Getting It

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A professor told Sahra Malin, 'if you want it, go get it,' and that's exactly what Malin is doing.

Malin has been active in different groups on campus include the Somali Student Association and the Muslim Student Association. Off campus, she is part of the advocacy group Doulas for All.Sahra Malin didn’t care much for high school. “I hated it with a passion and I think it’s because I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said. “I just didn’t see the point.” Malin’s perspective shifted following the birth of her daughter in 2015. Malin had a doula present during the delivery and that experience set her on a path to learning more about health care.

Malin enrolled at Seattle Central College in 2016. Not long after, she became a birth doula. “I’ve helped deliver 55 babies all over Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma,” she said. “I decided to become a doula because I really wanted to be supportive and help make a difference in Black women’s lives since they are three times more likely to die during childbirth than a white woman because of the racial disparities and systematic racism that happens in the hospital.”

Doulas provide a necessary service to expectant mothers. They advocate on behalf of the mother and provide comfort as well as information about pregnancy and the childbirth process. The job is deeply personal and can include long hours. Malin has been doing this work for three years while going to school full time and raising two children. “I love being a doula and, at the same time, I was motivated to finish my degree no matter what,” she said.

Malin transferred to UW Tacoma in the fall of 2018 to pursue a degree in healthcare leadership. “I love women’s health, especially population health and seeing the statistics around cesareans and infant mortality rate and putting those together to see what needs to be changed,” she said.

“I feel honored that I get to do this work because there were so many circumstances where maybe there was a single mom or a person who just arrived in America like three months ago and she literally has nobody in the city for her. And I was considered to be the closest person to her. She considered me to be like her family. To be in that type of intimate experience and to share that experience with her – I feel so honored to be able to do this type of work.” —— Sahra Malin

While on campus, Malin met Assistant Professor Sharon Laing. “I had never had a Black female professor until Dr. Laing,” said Malin. “She made me feel like I’m worthy of the things that I’m dreaming. She told us, ‘if you want it, go get it.’”

Malin is the second person in her family to graduate from college, but she will be the first to attend graduate school. Starting this fall, Malin will begin work on a Master of Health Informatics and Health Information Management at UW in Seattle.

After grad school, Malin hopes to combine her two passions: women’s health and data. “I want to be the chief data analyst for the department of women’s health in a hospital,” she said.

Section: 
Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / June 25, 2020
Photos by: 
Sahra Malin
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu