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School of Engineering

Tomorrow’s Engineers: Zharia Akeem

Monday, February 22, 2021
Zharia Akeem, a double major in computer science and biomedical engineering, plans to make an impact in her hometown of Detroit.
Zharia Akeem, E24
“For my first project in Introduction to Computational Design, I made something from scratch,” says Zharia Akeem. “At that moment, I knew that I was definitely going to stick with engineering.” Photo: Alonso Nichols

Zharia Akeem, E24, a Detroit native, is double majoring in computer science and biomedical engineering. Her passion for engineering was encouraged by a summer program at MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach, and through the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program.

When I started taking engineering classes, I fell in love with the idea of making something out of nothing. For my first project in Introduction to Computational Design, I made something from scratch. I was able to see the entire process and then see how it worked at the end. At that moment, I knew that I was definitely going to stick with engineering. 

My dream job is to be a trauma surgeon back in my community in Detroit. I’m going to start by being a combat surgeon in the Army. I have family members, my brothers and uncles and cousins, who served in the military.

I also wanted a job that would enable me to go back to my community, because Detroit is a majority African-American city without a lot of African-American doctors, and certainly not a lot of Black trauma surgeons or woman trauma surgeons, which can create trust and communication barriers. My hope is to do bootcamp before medical school, and after school do my residency in a military-approved program, and then ultimately go back to Detroit after I have served.

One highlight of my time is studying with English lecturer Jennifer Minnen. She encouraged me to write papers on scientific research, which was a really good experience. She introduced me to other people on campus who know about research going on at the university, and was open to helping me do the things that I wanted to do.

Since I’ve been here, the student body in the engineering department, as well as the professors and the TAs, have been so welcoming. I’ve never felt more like a part of a community than I have at Tufts and at the engineering program.

Everyone’s trying to do something, everyone’s trying to create something and make a difference and break some type of barrier. They motivate me to try to do more, to learn more things.

This excerpt is from "Who Are Tomorrow’s Engineers? Meet Five with Big Ideas" by Laura Ferguson, Tufts Now.