Growing up in Albania—a small country in the southern Balkans—Emal Lesha had a dream of one day becoming a doctor. His dream became true last month, after he graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM), and found out he will continue his medical training in neurosurgery at one of his top choice residency programs.
After a year in medical school in Albania, he moved with his family to Boston. He started studying at University of Massachusetts Boston, all the while working odd jobs to help support his family during the transition. At UMass Boston, he stumbled on a program that changed his life.
The three-week collaborative TUSM/UMass Boston Enrichment Program exposes undergraduates to medical school life and to research careers, focusing on team-based problem solving.
The students visit medical research and clinical environments, establish mentoring relationships with faculty and medical students, and attend seminars about both financing higher education and career options in medicine or research. “It was very motivating for me and helpful to gain insight into how things work as a medical student and physician,” Lesha said.
While a medical student at Tufts, Lesha conducted research in a Tufts Medical Center lab focused on mechanisms of aneurysm formation and endovascular neurosurgery; it inspired him to seek a neurosurgery residency. Tufts Now spoke with Lesha about his path to medical school, his work at the lab bench, and what he sees as his future in medicine.