Ahmad Salah’s parents had a dream. Even though they were successful doctors in Iraq they wanted their son and two daughters to have a better life than them. They made the decision to move their family to the United States knowing they may not be able to find jobs as doctors. “The sacrifice my parents made motivated me more than anything else to be successful,” he said.
Salah was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq. In 2003 when he was seven years old the United States government ordered the military invasion of Iraq. In 2010 the Salah family moved to the neighboring country of Jordan. The parents continued to practice medicine until 2012 when they moved their family of five to Central New York.
Salah entered Liverpool High School in time for his senior year but would need two years to graduate. “My English wasn’t good. I had to work very hard to improve. Reading helped. Watching movies helped. I also asked my friends to correct me whenever I misspoke.”
When it was time to choose a college, Onondaga Community College wasn’t Salah’s first choice but it turned out to be his best. “It was my last option. I hadn’t taken any Honors or AP classes and SAT test scores weren’t good at all. Coming here really motivated me.”
Salah blossomed as a student at OCC. He majored in Mathematics & Science with an Honors minor. His outstanding classwork earned him membership in international honor society Phi Theta Kappa. Salah became an Honors Ambassador, going to area high schools and speaking with students about the benefits of coming to OCC. Shortly before earning his degree he was named the top student in his major.
Today the future is very bright for Salah and his entire family. He works as a medical interpreter, helping patients who speak Arabic communicate with doctors. He’s also on track to become an American citizen. Salah will attend Syracuse University in the fall and major in medicinal history, then transfer to the University at Buffalo’s School of Dental medicine and pursue a specialty in orthodontics.
Salah’s two sisters attend Liverpool High School. Their parents are working as medical assistants and interpreters. He’s forever grateful for the sacrifices they made. “They could have stayed where they were and made more money. Instead they chose to bring us here so we would have more opportunities.”