Student Success

‘My proudest achievement’

First-year medical student at OUWB realizes dream featured in 2020 Bloomberg ad

An image of Frosilda Pushani

Student Success

icon of a calendarOct. 7, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Andrew Dietderich

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Everyone has a unique journey on their way to medical school, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many who manifest it on national TV — like OUWB student Frosilda Pushani.

But that’s exactly what happened with the first-year student.

In 2020, Pushani was in a national ad for Michael Bloomberg, a then-presidential candidate. Specifically, she talked about the benefits of a Bloomberg-backed program that helps top students apply to colleges, find scholarships, and more.

She highlighted how the program made it possible for her to attend University of Michigan as an undergrad — and of her vision of one day getting into medical school.

“Just seeing (my parents) smile at my white coat ceremony, that’s all I want to see,” Pushani said in the 2020 commercial, appearing to tear up a bit.

On Aug. 1, 2022, that happened on the campus of Oakland University.

“Once I put the two clips together of me saying that and then actually getting my white coat…it just felt surreal,” she says. “I was trying to hold back tears the entire day…it felt so good.”

‘My end goal would be in medicine’

Pushani is Albanian and was born and raised in Greece. Her family moved to metro Detroit when she was 7 years old.

It forced her to grow up fast.

“I was 7, 8 years old and doing all this translating on the phone…going with my parents to see doctors and translating for them when I had no idea what the terms were and I was still learning myself,” she says. “It did force me to grow up a little sooner than I would have liked, but I am who I am today because of it and I’m very proud of that.”

She attended Sterling Heights High School, and was in an accelerated study program at Macomb Mathematics Science Technology Center, where she was named valedictorian for class.

Post-high school, Pushani earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, health, and society (BHS) from University of Michigan. She took a gap year before starting at OUWB.

“I’m one of those fortunate students to have known since I was super young that my end goal would be in medicine,” she says.

Pushani says a big reason for her interest in medicine was seeing the difference between health care in the U.S. and other countries.

Specifically, she says, Pushani witnessed her mother struggle with the birth of her second daughter (Pushani’s sister).

“She almost died from complications because the doctors weren’t treating her well and weren’t giving her the necessary care,” says Pushani.

Pushani’s second sister was born in America. It was a completely different experience, according to Pushani.

“Just the way the OB-GYN treated our family and provided all these resources,” she says. “She was just so compassionate and kind and that showed me what medicine could really be.”

“I mean, we have a picture of her and our whole family in our living room.”

Here is the Bloomberg 2020 commercial featuring Frosilda Pushani.

‘Not very into politics’

While a junior in high school, Pushani says she received an email from a representative of CollegePoint.

CollegePoint is a Bloomberg Philanthropies-backed, nonprofit, virtual advising program that helps top students apply to colleges, find scholarships, navigate the financial aid process, and more.

Pushani says she took a chance on responding.

“I’ve always been prone to reaching new opportunities and resources, so I signed up and really became involved with my mentor,” says Pushani. “She submitted me as a nominee for a big scholarship.”

Through CollegePoint, Pushani received a full scholarship to University of Michigan.

Per scholarship requirements, Pushani had to essentially pay it forward in form of serving as a mentor for others. As someone who considers community service important, Pushani says she fully embraced the role.

“I worked with students who were from the Albanian community, a lot of immigrants, and a lot of other people who are disadvantaged,” she says.

Her commitment to service caught the attention of Bloomberg’s campaign team, which asked her to be in the presidential campaign commercial during her junior year at U of M.

“I said I would love to do it,” she says. “I’m a huge proponent for higher education, especially for people who don’t have the means to get there.”

‘It felt really good’

The commercial is two minutes long and briefly highlights Pushani’s story, the fact that there are many people like her who need help covering college costs, and, of course, plugs Bloomberg’s efforts to help such students.

She also mentions her own goals.

“I really want to become a doctor that actually makes a difference,” she says.

Pushani says it was somewhat “embarrassing” to have cameras following her around Ann Arbor, especially since she considers herself “very shy.”

When the commercial started airing, Pushani says “it was nuts,” including the fact that it made headlines in Albania.

It was all worth it, she says.

“I’m not very into politics, but when it comes to promoting platforms I’m passionate about like quality of health care, health equity, and education, then I’m all for it,” she says. “It felt really good to be doing that and be part of that.”

Pushani would go on to graduate from U of M and take a gap year before deciding to attend OUWB.

“I had my options, which I’m super grateful for, but in the end, I just felt so comfortable at OUWB…it really felt like my second home,” she says. “The aspect of community was really emphasized and I could see that it wasn’t just all talk.”

Pushani says she revisited the Bloomberg commercial she was in again right before her white coat ceremony at OUWB this year.

The vision she talked about in the ad — of seeing the joy in the faces of her parents — had come to fruition.

“My parents were crying the entire day…they were just so proud,” says Pushani. “It felt so good because their sacrifices were worth it…they wanted me to get the higher education that they didn’t receive and it just felt so rewarding.”

“I think it’s going to be my proudest achievement.”

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