Feb 21, 2020 10:00 AM

Author: Majid Khan

To say that the PathMaker Program made an impact on my life would be a huge understatement. I learned so much from my PathMaker experience, I honestly could write a book about it. I was able to see and do so many things that changed my career path and goals. Because of the skills I learned, the connections I made, and the amazing mentorship I received, the program instilled in me a drive to continue to chase my dreams.

I am the first-born son of two immigrant casino workers and a first-generation college student. While I was an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada in Reno, I heard about the PathMaker Program. I went online and saw pictures of Salt Lake City, Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), and the University of Utah (U of U) and fell in love. I wanted to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone, and the PathMaker Program was the perfect opportunity.

The summer I attended the PathMaker Program was the first summer I spent away from home. As you can imagine, my mom was very nervous about me leaving. But it was completely worth it. My experience in the program was nothing short of amazing. For 10 weeks, I had the opportunity to work in the lab researching brain tumors with Randy Jensen, MD, PhD, and David Gillespie, PhD. I was also able to shadow several surgeries so I could connect the clinical experience with laboratory experience firsthand.


I am currently a first-year medical student at the University of Reno in Nevada, and there is no doubt that everything I am doing today is in some way related to my experience as a PathMaker student. The people at HCI are some of the most amazing and down to earth individuals I have ever met. I immediately noticed that everyone—from my fellow PathMaker students to researchers and physicians to administration—cared about me and my success.

The thing I took away from my time at HCI that means the most to me is hope. The partnership between HCI, U of U Health, and Primary Children’s Hospital fosters hope every second. Whether contributing with my research, shadowing doctors, or walking down the halls and smiling to patients walking by, hope by far was the biggest thing that I learned. Hope continues to be a part of me today—hope that I can be the first doctor in my entire family, that I can one day save lives, that I can be part of the reason that one day cancer will be no more.

majid khan

About PathMaker Programs for Cancer Research

The PathMaker program is a one-on-one mentored research experience for high school seniors and undergraduate students from underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds who are interested in pursuing careers in research, medicine, and education.

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Cancer touches all of us.

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