Mustafa Rasheed, of Chantilly, Virginia, has received Virginia Tech’s 2020 Outstanding Graduating Student for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Coordinated by Student Affairs, the Outstanding Student Awards recognize exceptional academic achievement, leadership, and service by a student from each of the university’s colleges.

Rasheed will receive his M.D. during the school’s virtual graduation ceremony May 9.

“Receiving this recognition left me in disbelief initially,” Rasheed said. “I feel tremendously honored and humbled, and I cannot take individual credit for any of my accomplishments. I have been surrounded by a great support network that consisted of family, friends, and mentors.”

Rasheed’s academic talents earned him eight Letters of Distinction, which are awarded to top-performing students in various disciplines. In addition, he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, an exclusive recognition reserved for only 15 percent of a medical school class. He was also inducted into the prestigious Gold Humanism Honor Society, a recognition for students who best exemplify humanism and empathy in their medical endeavors.

During his four years of medical school, Rasheed has been an active researcher, with involvement in up to five different projects at once. For his main research, under the mentoring of Kenneth Oestreich, former assistant professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, Rasheed investigated specific factors in the regulation of immune cell differentiation and function with the goal of creating new targets for therapeutics in cancer and auto-immune disorders.

In addition, Rasheed was involved in research projects that included psychotherapy for opioid addiction, methods of gastric tube placement and outcomes in pediatric patients, urinalysis testing in the emergency department, and creating ultrasound models for the education of diagnosing peritonsillar abscesses.

For his research efforts, Rasheed has presented at six national and international conferences and has been a co-author on six published scholarly articles.

As a native of Kurdistan who immigrated with his family at the age of four, Rasheed was active in diversity and inclusion programs at the medical school and within the community. He served as president of the Student National Medical Association, which supports underrepresented minority medical students and addresses the needs of underserved communities. He was also active in the Roanoke Refugee Partnership and the Bradley Free Clinic.

In other activities, Rasheed served on the medical school’s admissions committee, mentored two pre-med undergraduates at Virginia Tech, was co-president of the medical school’s Emergency Medicine Interest Group, and was an outreach coordinator for the Jefferson Center in Roanoke.

“Mustafa embodies all that our school stands for and possesses the attributes we hope for our graduates,” said Aubrey Knight, senior dean for student affairs. “He has been an outstanding student, a quality researcher, and a highly committed member of the greater Roanoke community.”


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Rasheed is a graduate of Virginia Tech where he majored in biochemistry, biology, and chemistry and served on the university’s Volunteer Rescue Squad.

“My fellow fourth-year medical students and I are entering medicine at a unique time,” he said. “While we may lament over missed events and celebrations together, we have adjusted. Our feelings are now more focused on questions such as, ‘How can we help?’ and ‘What is the latest research?’ to stay up to date. Health care providers are needed more now than ever so we are continuing to prepare for the first day of residency.”

Rasheed will begin his residency in emergency medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia this summer.

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