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Scholar Wins "Give Back" Competition, Awarded for Medical Humanitarian Work

Published: Thursday, 13 Apr 2017
Author: The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program
Department: Office of the Dean

The Honors College at Michigan State University hosted a Give Back Competition and Colloquium on March 28, 2017.  The competition invited students to submit a video blog outlining the service work they organized in their communities. After deliberation by MSU faculty, MasterCard Foundation Scholar Gobi Bah was chosen as first-place winner for his work with RESTORE Worldwide.

RESTORE Worldwide, founded by Bah's mentor, Dr. Michael K. Obeng, is a non-profit organization that provides pro-bono reconstructive surgery and related medical services to children and adults with disfiguring deformities from birth, accidents, and diseases.

Bah serves as a liaison between RESTORE Worldwide and West Africa by identifying critically ill youth who cannot afford reconstructive surgery and/or do not have access to qualified surgeons. Last summer, Bah identified a 4-year-old girl in his native Gambia who was in critical need. He secured the services of RESTORE Worldwide, arranged travel accommodations and visas for the family, and escorted them from The Gambia to LA.

In addition to his ongoing work as a liaison, Bah took a one week leave of absence from his courses at MSU to assist the organization on a humanitarian trip to Ghana. His responsibilities included coordinating between patients and doctors, translating, and documenting the procedures in a medical journal. During his week of volunteering, Bah and the organization were able to perform free surgeries for 46 Ghanaians.

Bah is currently an undergraduate student at MSU studying neuroscience and is a member of the Honors College. His experience working with RESTORE has helped him focus his aspirations to become a medical doctor. As a doctor, Bah believes that he can serve in underprivileged communities to make impactful changes each day. "Research is important, but it can take a while for a breakthrough to impact people," he said. "I want to have an impact on people every day of my life, and I think that's what doctors do."

As first-place winner, Bah received a $1500 award courtesy of the event's sponsor, MSU Federal Credit Union. He plans to use this money toward application fees for medical school. When presented the award, the MasterCard Foundation Scholar took the opportunity to encourage others to give back to their communities. "I want people to know that you don't need money to help—you can help in many ways," he said. "It doesn't matter how old you are. Sometimes just reaching out to someone makes a big impact. The opportunities are always there, you just need to be willing to seek them out."

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