From Dishwasher To Heart Doctor: This Syrian Refugee Fulfills His American Dream
Some people have that special instinct: when they see wrongs happening in the world they try to fix them, and when a kindness is done to them, they make sure to pass it along.
Dr. Heval Mohamed Kelli, a cardiologist who lives in Atlanta, is one of those people.
"When I came here as a refugee," Dr. Kelli says, "I remember that my mom and dad didn't have access to insurance."
Dr. Kelli's family came to the United States from Syria, fleeing violence and danger in their home country. Though he was young, Dr. Kelli knew that he wanted to be a doctor, inspired by his experience watching ambulances arrive in his home neighborhood—sometimes to save people, and other times to remove people who were beyond being saved. And his aspirations went beyond a medical degree; he wanted to help people who were recent arrivals in America, like his family had been.
"Now I come back here," he says of the clinic where he offers free treatment to those without insurance, "to help the same people like my parents."
When he first arrived, however, Dr. Kelli didn't have the money or time to go to medical school. He had to support his family. So he worked at a nearby restaurant, cleaning floors and washing dishes, until his family was more settled.
Now, Dr. Kelli works as a cardiologist at Emory University, just a block away from that restaurant where the young Syrian refugee got his start.