Said Saab-Fernandez ('09C)

Award: Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Award Supported: MPhil in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of Cambridge

Undergraduate major(s): Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology (highest honors)

Currently: Completing an OBGYN Residency at the University of Pennsylvania

Said served as a teaching assistant for biology and chemistry courses and was active in the Undergraduates in Science Mentoring Program. He was a member of the Symphony Orchestra and served on the Board of Directors for Emory’s Volunteer Center. Said was also an Emory Scholar and member of the 100 Senior Honorary.  After graduating from Emory, he completed an MPhil in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of Cambridge and an MD at New York University. Said is a recipient of the US National Health Service Core Scholarship, and multiple awards at New York University School of Medicine fincluding the Frederick C. Holden Award for Excellence in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Student Clerkship, the John E. Constantine Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the John W. V. Cordice Sr. & Jr. Award for Outstanding Academic Scholarship and Community Service. 

Q: What experiences at Emory prepared you for the Gates Cambridge?

A: Academically, Emory’s undergraduate curriculum prepared me well for my year abroad. The general education requirements, coupled with the courses that the Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology major offered, certainly set a strong foundation onto which I further built while in medical school at New York University, prior to departing for Cambridge. This provided me with confidence in a very foreign educational environment.

Culturally, my study abroad experience through the German Studies Department was very helpful. Having spent a summer abroad in Austria while at Emory, I had become familiar with certain aspects of European culture. Although the UK was different, my study abroad experience in Austria certainly helped increase my comfort level and understanding of the ways in which Cambridge functioned.

Q: What memorable or interesting things happened during your Gates Cambridge experience?

A: The college system at the University of Cambridge was unfamiliar to me, in that the university was subdivided into smaller individual social/ academic hubs. I was accepted to Trinity College, one of the oldest and most traditional of the divisions. The traditions, dating back more than 500 years, the gowns, the dining halls, formal dinners, and the stone walls, were all surprising—and reminiscent of the J.K. Rowling series. In time, I came to accept and embrace those old traditions; they were quite fun and unique, after all.

Q: How did the Gates Cambridge impact your academic/ career path?

A: The course I completed while abroad has been very helpful in my understanding of basic statistics, epidemiology, and pharmacology, and has increased my confidence in analyzing the literature. Having completed an MPhil was also advantageous when I was applying to residency programs. Overall, my Gates Cambridge experience provided me with a great overview of the UK’s medical system and inspired me to continue on an academic generalist path.

Q: What advice would you give current Gates Cambridge applicants?

A: Complete your application on time, having your friends and faculty read your essays as you draft them. Most importantly, establish a relationship with your research mentor abroad prior to submitting your application. The department has the most initial say in who gets selected as finalists.