Deeqo Mahamud (Pharm.D., ’26)

Medical Interpreter at Maine Medical Center

Interview By Curry Stover

I knew that, above all else, I wanted to be with my mom. 

After leaving Somalia and growing up in Kenya with my aunt, my goal was always to come to Maine, where my mother had settled. There was nowhere else I’d rather be.

When I was young, I was impacted by the experience of going to the hospital. I witnessed patients receiving their medications in unorganized boxes or haphazardly wrapped in paper. Even at a young age, I recognized that there had to be a better way. 

I began asking myself what career I could pursue that would help others, and pharmacy appealed to me because you’re given the ability to help, educate, and truly connect with others. In Kenya, pharmacists are called chemists, and the job doesn’t require as much education and training as it does in the United States. So, even though I didn’t fully understand what a pharmacist did, I knew that was the path I wanted to follow. I was finally going to reunite with my mother.

U N E pharmacy student Deeqo Mahamud

Supporting my community is incredibly important to me. In my free time, I work at Maine Medical Center as a medical interpreter assisting those who speak Somali and Swahili. I am the youngest of 10 children, and I’m the only one who speaks English. I already had plenty of experience going to appointments with my siblings and mom. I thought, if I can help them, then there has to be a family out there who could also use this help. 

Most of the people who I interpret for are Somali women who are a bit older in age. When they see me, they look at me as though I am their daughter. Even though they don't know me, I can feel them relax once I enter the room, and I know they feel safe.

U N E Pharm.d. student Deqoo Mahamud walks with a university professional staff member

I have a Post-it note on the wall behind my computer with two dates. The first is May 18, 2018, the day I arrived in the U.S. The second is May 18, 2023. That day, my friend texted me and told me to go to the UNE website. I did, and I saw myself represented on the website for the School of Pharmacy. All my mom wants is to see me succeed and achieve everything in this world. I showed her the website, and she was so proud.

In exactly five years, I’ve experienced my highest highs and lowest lows. The highs include finishing my first year of pharmacy school. I knew that if I could make it through the first year, I would make it through the entire program.

The lowest point came this year. I was preparing to start my first clinical rotation — my white coat was washed and ready to go — and then, the Friday before I was supposed to start my rotation, my mother was hospitalized. We had so many questions, and it wasn’t until three the next morning that we learned she had been diagnosed with cancer. I immediately switched my rotation with another student and took four weeks off to care for my mother. 

U N E pharmacy student Deqoo Mahamud

Everyone at UNE was so understanding, and I am so thankful for all of the support I received from my professors and peers. Today, I’ve completed my rotation, and the whole experience has given me much more strength to continue on the path I’ve set out for myself.

Return to the table of contents