16:03 PM

Alumnus With Hard-Work Knack for Landing on His Feet

Opens pharmacy with brother for their mom

Ahmed AlRawi ’12, MCTM ’20, wrote the book on resilience. Here is the story that leads to his opening an Arabic and English language pharmacy for his pharmacist mother in Houston.

Refugee Experience

The 34-year-old has had his life upended twice. First, in 2004 when he, his parents and siblings fled violence in their native Iraq. After that event, he finished high school in Jordan and began medical school there. The second upset came in 2008 when the family moved to America as part of a resettlement program.

With his remarkable “no big deal” attitude, AlRawi recalled, “I had completed three years of med school and thought, ‘I’ll figure it out.’”

However, the young man figured out that to become a doctor, he would have to start pre-med all over again. No way. He would go back to school, he figured, and find another career.

Finding the Right School and the Right Career

“After I was disappointed at the sight of the sprawling U of H campus and the showstopping requirements at Rice, someone recommended the University of St. Thomas,” he said. “I saw the campus, fell in love immediately, went to the office and applied. Right away, I felt welcomed in the cozy, comfortable, diverse campus.”

At UST, he secured his B.S. in biochemistry and earned a Master’s in Clinical Translation Management. In no time, the intelligent, high-energy professional was working at the prestigious MD Anderson Center as a senior research data specialist. He was there for nine years.

AlRawi proudly explained, “We managed clinical trials for cancer therapeutics. I was the specialist for anything that had to do with DNA/RNA sequencing. My pride and joy was the phenomenal work we did trying to discover new targets for leukemia. The work involved long hours and was so rewarding that I even learned computer coding to participate that much more fully.”

Liking Hard Work and Launching a Business

He took his work ethic to his present position at Texas Health and Human Services. There, AlRawi is in charge of allocating federal funds for COVID testing in all of the state’s public and private schools. It’s a demanding and complex role.

In his words, “I work hard, and I like working hard.” That mantra led him to champion the launch of a new business with his mother and engineer brother—a pharmacy called Alsedra.

AlRawi said, “We named the pharmacy after my mother. Her name is Sedra, which, in the Quran, is the tree that provides the shade for God’s throne. So with that rare and recognizable name, we target our advertising to Houston’s Arabic-speaking community. And our customers are appreciative that they can ask important medical questions and get answers in the language they are most fluent in.”

AlRawi completed the reams of regulatory paperwork required to get the business up and running in a fraction of the usual time.

“It’s another specialty of mine—detailed, legal paperwork. I enjoy reading it! The DEA license alone usually takes eight months to complete, but I did it in five days because I love paperwork, and I did it right the first time.”

Adding Volunteer Work to His Edge-of-Overload

Add volunteer work to AlRawi’s “busy” list. He is a blessing to UST, where he serves on the Alumni Board and is the Chair for the 2022 Two Saints and a Taco event.

“I live on the edge of overload, and that’s my happy place,” he smiled.

The accomplished alumnus can’t say enough positive things about the UST experience, and he seems to have convinced his father. Dr. Nabeel AlRawi recently joined the St. Thomas faculty as an adjunct professor of Cybersecurity in the Kolbe School of Innovation and Professional Studies.