MHS Student Inspired by Brother with Autism to Pursue a Career in Medicine

Growing up with a non-verbal younger brother on the Autism spectrum, Neellab Wahdat knew from a young age that she would pursue a career in medicine so she could help others like him.

“My brother has motivated me to work with underserved populations. They face a lot of challenges and barriers, and I want to make it easier for them by making an impact through medicine,” she said.

Originally from Orange County, Calif. and a graduate of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Wahdat is beginning the second half of the 11-month Master’s of Science in Medical Health Sciences (MHS) program at Touro University Nevada.

Before joining Touro in 2021, Wahdat worked with those on the Autism spectrum as Vice President of UCSD’s, ‘Include Autism’ student organization. In her role, Wahdat helped organize volunteer events where students would coach individuals with autism in communication and social skills, while spreading autism awareness to the community.

“Most of those we worked with were highly functional and we were able to communicate, but there were some who were non-verbal,” she said. “My brother is non-verbal. Growing up with him has made me very patient, and I’ve learned how to communicate with people without having to use words.”

Wahdat is also Vice President of Philanthropy for her MHS class, an opportunity that has allowed her to organize events that benefit underserved communities. In addition to her studies, she is hoping to collaborate with the DO Program on outreach initiatives that focus on health and wellness presentations.

“MHS is definitely challenging but very rewarding,” she said. “I’m very thankful for the program because I’m being exposed to medical school curriculum early on and I’m learning how to develop study habits and techniques that I think will make me more successful in the DO program.”

After she’s finished with medical school, Wahdat would love to stay in Nevada to work in primary care and help the underserved populations across the Las Vegas Valley.

She would love nothing more than to help people like her brother; the one person she credits with setting her on a career path to medicine.

“Having a brother with Autism has made me very accepting and curious to understand people beyond the surface,” she said. “Without him, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”