Rocovich Scholar on track to become latest doctor in Khan family

by Chuck Gordon

Amna Khan has spent her life around medicine. Both of her parents are doctors, and her older brother is finishing up medical school.

“Even when my mother was pregnant with me, she was practicing as a physician,” Khan says, “so you could say I’ve been learning about medicine since before I was born.”

Naturally, the Wingate University junior is also on track for medical school. Earlier this month, the pre-med major found out that her med-school path is set: Khan has been selected for the Rocovich Scholars Program, which means she has been accepted into the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM).

An agreement signed six years ago by Wingate University and VCOM provides two pathways for Wingate students to become med-school students at VCOM: the Guaranteed Interview Program, for students who apply during their junior or senior year; and the Rocovich Scholars Program, for students applying as sophomores.

The Rocovich program provides a tantalizing bonus: maintain a 3.7 grade-point average or better throughout your undergraduate years, and you don’t have to take the Medical College Admission Test to earn a seat at VCOM. Khan says she’s “trying to avoid the MCAT at all costs.”

Of course, if she wound up needing to take it, she would undoubtedly be prepared. A highly organized student who professes to “love structure,” Khan has a 3.87 GPA in addition to being involved in a host of activities. She’s in the Honors Program, is the secretary of the Muslim Student Association, is a supplemental instructor for Principles of Chemistry I and II, and is a peer tutor for six science classes.

Not only does she like to stay busy, but she has her heart set on serving others, especially in a rural community. Khan grew up in Burnsville, N.C., a small mountain town in Yancey County. After graduating at the top of her class at Mountain Heritage High School, she chose to attend Wingate because of the opportunities the more-intimate setting afforded her.

“I grew up in an environment that had small classes, and I knew that I would thrive best in a similar environment,” she says. “I know the majority of my professors on a personal basis, which would not happen at a larger university.”

Amna Khan visiting Pakistan

It’s been a match made in heaven. One of the only Muslims around, Khan says she felt accepted in Burnsville but always knew she was different from her peers. Then, when she visited Pakistan with her mother, she was something of an oddity, with a noticeable North Carolina-mountain lilt to her voice.

“Having the identity of being from Pakistan and having the identity of being from America, honestly the place I feel most at home is at Wingate,” Khan says. “That’s a big statement, but it’s actually true, because I feel so included, and it feels like my family here as well.”

Rocovich Scholars applicants must complete 40 hours each of healthcare and community-service volunteering. Before she’d even heard about the program, Khan was well on her way to fulfilling that requirement. On a couple of visits to Pakistan, and on a post-Hurricane Irma trip to the Caribbean island of Anguilla, where her brother was studying, Khan spent time volunteering in hospitals and clinical settings.

In Pakistan, she was struck by the family aspect of individual healthcare. In most cases, other family members are in the room during a doctor-patient visit – a fact of life that can place a burden on the healthcare provider.

“Understanding as a doctor what the patient is willing to tell you based on who’s around, and you having to try to work around that and try to get all the information from the patient without it being a problem, was a big thing that really affected the health of the patients, because you could make a misdiagnosis,” Khan says. “There’s so many factors that could play into it if you don’t know the whole story.”

The visits to rural clinics in Pakistan and seeing her mother provide care in a rural community in North Carolina have left their mark on Khan. After VCOM, she sees herself going into family medicine.

Wingate biology faculty are confident she’ll succeed, wherever she winds up.

“Amna has been one of our strongest candidates to date, and we gave her a very high recommendation,” says Dr. Alison Brown, professor of biology. “Amna really has a heart to serve others and has witnessed firsthand the impact her family has had on their community.”

Khan is Wingate’s sixth Rocovich Scholar and the 13th Wingate student to be accepted to VCOM since 2015.

Sept. 28, 2021