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ODU NUCLEAR MEDICINE TECHNOLOGY GRAD RETURNS TO KUWAIT AS FIRST SPECIALIST IN COUNTRY'S HISTORY

At a time when many recent graduates are searching for that perfect job or taking a break before entering the real world, 23-year-old Aishah Alboloushi will be packing for a trip to her native Kuwait, where she will work in a government-sponsored medical laboratory as the first Kuwaiti citizen with a bachelor of science degree in nuclear medicine technology.

For the May 2006 Old Dominion University graduate, it will mark the end of an exciting period in her life, as well as a new beginning.

"My time in America and at Old Dominion has been a big challenge and an important part of my life," Alboloushi said.

Her journey began in Kuwait, the small oil-producing monarchy that sits of the Persian Gulf and is bordered by Saudi Arabia and Iraq. An excellent student in elementary and secondary school, Alboloushi applied for a scholarship from the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education after her high school graduation. In her research, she surfed the Web for information about schools in Europe and the United States, before choosing ODU's program in nuclear medicine technology.

"I always knew I wanted to find my own way," said Alboloushi.

Although she has always loved school, particularly math and science, it was a big decision to travel thousands of miles away from home to continue her education.

Arriving in Norfolk in the fall of 2001, Alboloushi spent her first year at Old Dominion studying English extensively. "I was really overwhelmed in the beginning, but I knew I was here for a purpose and I had to stick to my goal," she said.

Along the way, she proved to be an excellent student. "Aishah had the qualities you just can't quantify," said program director Scott Sechrist. "In addition to motivation and a genuine love for helping people, she really exhibited drive and stood out in a class of good students," said Sechrist.

Old Dominion's highly selective nuclear medicine technology program, which admits only 12 juniors each year, is a clinical imaging specialty that utilizes radioactive materials for diagnostic, therapeutic and research purposes. Students learn to operate equipment (gamma cameras and PET Scanners) that aid physicians in diagnosing various medical conditions and disorders.

"This type of cutting-edge technology is not yet available in Kuwait," said Alboloushi, who cannot wait to share her knowledge in this field.

Students in the program are required to complete internships with local hospitals where they gain valuable real-world experience. Having five sisters and three brothers at home, Alboloushi said working in the pediatrics department at Children's Hospital for The King's Daughters was immensely fulfilling. Three additional internships at local hospitals gave her even more experience.

Alboloushi recently passed the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board, a national exam that medical technologists must pass to work in the United States. "It was really rewarding to know I could pass it, to know that I am as prepared as my American counterparts," Alboloushi said.

When she returns home later this month, Alboloushi will run a nuclear medicine technology lab in Kuwait City. "I'm really excited to take this knowledge and be able to help people," she said.

This article was posted on: May 17, 2006

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