I have my dad to thank for getting me interested in photography. I grew up watching him pull over every few steps to take pictures. Soon enough, I got in on it too. While my dad was the one who taught me the essentials, specifically in landscape and travel photography, I went on to explore more on the side of photojournalism and fashion photography.

It’s been six years and counting since I took photography up as a hobby, and I love what the world looks like behind the lens.

Photo Portfolio

I find a lot of comfort behind a camera. Pictures show you a single moment in the world, many times moments that are fractions of a second long.

I’ve never been one to share my pictures, save from the occasional Instagram post, but finally I have created a sort of portfolio on 500px.

https://500px.com/jamilaraja

A Story

The question as to why I want to become a doctor is presented to me about 500 times a week. I think many are just a little surprised because I tell them I’m a journalism student and the two fields don’t normally go together. But, to answer the question, here is the story behind my decision.


 

As many people know, I went to Yemen in the summer of 2013. I got to volunteer in a community clinic and shadow a doctor for a few weeks. At that time, I didn’t have a clue as to what I was going to do or be in my life. I was essentially using this experience as a test run to see if medicine was a good fit for me.

About a week into my trip a woman had walked into the clinic seeking some help. She was dressed in a burqa and all you could see were a pair of copper eyes and weathered hands. With her was a younger man, possibly her son, leading them both deeper into the clinic. The doctor motioned for them to come into the main room and they took a seat at the chairs in front of the doctor’s desk. I took my spot leaning against the dusty windowsill acting as the background while the woman conversed with the doctor. I couldn’t understand much, as my Arabic skills are close to zero, but the expression in her eyes relayed all the worry and pain she had been holding on to. A moment later the doctor briefly translated what the woman had told him; she has cancer, and she’s in a lot of pain, but we’ll do what we can. The doctor then told me to go retrieve some medication that we can provide to her with an IV.

When I had returned, the woman had moved to one of the beds. She was lying on her back, legs crossed at the ankles and fingers intertwined on her stomach with her thumb making a slow rubbing motion against her other hand. The doctor and I both walked up to her bed and she looked at both of us, eyes crinkling at the edges, as if we were the answer to all her problems. The doctor went on to explain that we would do the best we can to help with her pain, but this isn’t a permanent solution. Even with that information, the woman’s hopefulness didn’t waiver. It was overwhelming for me.

I continued to hang the bag of fluid on a hook and the doctor allowed me to set up her IV line. I took the woman’s hand in mine and nervously got her hooked up (I definitely would not be allowed to do this in the States). Before I left I gave her elbow a light squeeze and told her she’ll be fine.

The reality was that she was probably not going to be fine. The clinic only had so many resources, and the problems the woman will face are beyond the realms of our small clinic. After we left her side, the doctor had informed me that giving her medication to alleviate her pain is the best we could do. It was the heartbreaking reality many rural people in Yemen had to face.

At the end of the day, I was waiting outside of the clinic kicking around pebbles and waiting for my ride back to the main town. The doctor had come out and told me he was going to start up the ambulance while everyone else was filing out the clinic. Of those people, the woman with the copper eyes stepped out of the front doors. I smiled up at her and she took a few strides toward me, placed her hand on my shoulder and quietly thanked me. That woman knew she had more days of pain waiting for her, but for those few hours we provided her with a little bit of solace. Her gratitude lifted the somberness that I was feeling from earlier, and I nodded in return.

That woman had put her full faith in the doctor and me, and it was as scary as hell. And even though I didn’t cure her, she left me feeling like I actually did something. I knew from that trip that I wanted to pursue medicine for that something. For a career that provides the occasional moment of hope for people that haven’t seen it in a while.

And that’s the reason I’m a pre-med student.

A Dream

I had a dream last night, and it was sorta freaky. I had woken up at around 4am from the dream and I had typed out what I remembered. I figured I could share this one, but excuse the horrible writing and any errors, since I was probably slightly out of my mind and I just copy and pasted what I had typed out.


 

The day was bright, almost blinding. My vision was creating auras in areas of direct sunlight. I was walking into what looked like an overpass. Directly in the middle, there was an industrial elevator shaft. Basically, a hole in the floor and celing with two walls on each side. You could see across the shaft to the rest of the area. There were four pillars on my left side and through them there was a parking lot. I walked over to the lot, white lines painted on the ground, but there wasn’t a single car. Instead, neatly placed in the middle of each space was a pair of shoes. I assumed my shoes have to be removed also, so I walk to an empty spot, heel off my black converse and place them in the middle of the spot. I glanced at the spot on my left and there were a pair of scuba diving boots.

I didn’t think much of it, and I walked with my rainbow socks back over to the underpass. This time there was a middle age man and another couple waiting at the elevator. When I stopped, the older man looked over at me and pressed the up button. I hear the elevator making its way down, but it didn’t stop. The four of us looked into the shaft to see what happened, but it was just a black hole. I looked over to the couple at my left and they were just as confused. Down the elevator shaft we can still hear the elevator. A moment later it comes back up to us, but again, doesn’t stop. The elevator keeps going back up and down never stopping. After the third time, I realize the elevator is also speeding up, travelling up and down the shaft at a quicker rate every time it passes our level.

The middle age man on my right seemed like he was in a hurry and it was becoming agitated. The elevator was still going up and down. I was still standing, looking at nothing, and when the elevator returned to our floor I see the middle ages man take a running start and jump into the shaft and on the elevator platform. I was shocked as the elevator had reached a high speed. Once the elevator moved up, there was no more sound and a second later I started to walk away. Two steps later and I hear a snapping sound, I look towards the shaft and see the elevator platform falling and the cables were making a whipping sound. I ran back to the shaft and looking into it, but again it was just a black hole. The guy that jumped onto the platform was no where to be seen or heard either.


 

If anyone out there wants to psychoanalyze this and get back to me….

Also, It’s been months since I’ve written on my little blog, and it makes me a horrible person for neglecting it. But have no worry, it’s winter break and I’m back.

How to Succeed in 2016 Via Tweets by Donald Trump

According to billionaire Donald Trump, candidates should be wary of the rich and powerful

According to Donald Trump, give Hillary the heebie jeebies

According to Donald Trump, let Wisconsin deal with their shitty roads and call out the liars

According to Donald Trump, promise build a wall between the US and Mexico to gain the Hispanic Vote

According to businessman turned politician Donald Trump, make sure you are not a politician

And above all else, be kind and respectful to your fellow candidates!

With all these helpful tweets, I would like to formally announce that I will be running for 2020. God Bless America!

Medi- Don’t Actually- care

This summer I get to spend a few days a week working the front desk of my aunt’s office. She’s an acupuncturist, so a good chunk of my job consists of calling insurance companies to figure out coverage plans. After three weeks, you realize that the people behind the phone are clueless and you want to rip your eyes out (I don’t recommend that, because they probably wont cover that either). Of course, that’s if you’re lucky enough to get an actual person on the line and not just one of the robot machine things that make you punch in random numbers. *COUCH Blue Cross Blue Shield COUGH*

The conversation I had today just shows how much the insurance company does not give a crap about the people that call.

Actual conversation I had today:

JAMILA: “Acupuncture and Herbal Care, how can I help you?”

PATIENT: “Yea, I just talked to my insurance company and it says that I have coverage with you guys, so I was wondering if I can make an appointment?”

J: “Of course, what day and time would be most convenient for you?”

P: “Well how long should this all take?

J: “About an hour or so, your first visit may take longer.”

P: “The surgery only takes an hour, but what about after?”

J: “I don’t understand your question…”

P: “How long is the recovery.”

J: “After the treatment, there isn’t really a recovery. You may feel drowsy, but nothing major.”

P: “I don’t understand.”

J: “If you don’t mind me asking, what are you looking to have done?”

[Tells me about a major surgery they need done]

J: “Uh sir, you do know that this is an acupuncture center?”

P: “Wait, you’re not the urologist?”

J: “No, not at all”

P: “Oh my God that guy is a fucking idiot! He told me this number for a urologist”

J: “No, not even close. Sorry about that”

P: “Fucking insurance doesn’t even know what they’re covering. Sorry to bother.”

J: “No problem. Have a good day”

I hope that guy found the correct doctor.