Scholarship Recipient Finds 'Opportunity' at St. Thomas

Andrew Mahama '19 keeps a picture of himself as a child dressed up in his father’s oversize scrubs on Halloween. It reminds him that he’s always assumed he’d follow in the footsteps of his father, a cardiologist who emigrated from Syria. Only recently, though, has he asked himself why he feels so called to medicine. The answer has come from inside as well as outside the classroom.

A biology major, the Sioux Falls, South Dakota native arrived at St. Thomas without knowing what the liberal arts meant. Then he took his first philosophy course.

“It really spoke to me,” he said. He learned to reflect on open-ended questions, including how he could positively impact others.

During the summer of 2017, he had an experience that clarified his calling. He rode 4,000 miles across the United States to support the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, writing on his leg every day the name of a young adult with cancer. Two names belonged to St. Thomas friends. The overwhelming and unexpected gratitude he received, along with the stories of courage he encountered along the way, taught him that “whether you do something very small or very big, you can make a difference in someone’s life.”

Today Mohama has a clear definition of the liberal arts: “Opportunity.” He credits supportive St. Thomas faculty, family and friends; experiences like his cycling trek and his internship at a dermatology clinic; and his leadership role on an Ashoka changemaker team for opening him up to the reality that he not only can impact
others – he already has.

Mohama received the Connie D. and William C. Carroll Annual Scholarship. Applications deadlines for 2019-2020 scholarships is Jan. 3, 2019. For more information, go to