GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
There was a crinkle in his forehead when asked to recount his past experiences; remembering the intricate details of trials and tribulations today could not be easy. When describing his experiences through his journey, he seemed to be the kind of person who would be relentless to achieve his dreams.
Airman 1st Class Maxwell Ali, an aerospace technician for the 319th Medical Operations Support Squadron, overcame adversities to earn his education and hopes the opportunities provided by the Air Force will help him reach his goal of becoming a board certified general surgeon in the Air Force.
Ali was born in Ghana, a country in West Africa. Although he was born and raised in this country, Ali wanted to pursue medicine and there were not many opportunities available there.
“Growing up, I always wanted to go to medical school,” said Ali. “I have always had a passion for saving lives. Unfortunately, there were not a lot of medical school options in Ghana. Financially, my family could not afford medical school there.”
Ali searched for more affordable medical programs and finally found an opportunity in the Ukraine to begin medical school.
“I saved some money to attend medical school there,” said Ali. “While maintaining proficiency in three Ghanian tribal languages, in order to chase my dream of being a doctor, I learned Ukrainian, Russian and English. My goal was to interact with various patients.”
Although Ali finally reached his goal of going to medical school in the Ukraine and earning his doctorate in medicine, he had to evacuate the country for the sake of his life shortly after graduating.
“This was a time when Russia made Ukraine very unstable,” said Ali. “A friend I made there was stabbed in a train station, and a classmate of mine was attacked in an amusement park. People did not get help when these things happened because it became such a normalcy there. All that I was hoping for was a chance to leave safely without any harm.”
Luckily, Ali was able to leave the Ukraine and start a new life in America. He moved to Texas, where he tried to find work, but realized that using a foreign degree in America would be a challenge for him.
“I first worked as a substitute teacher, and then for a healthcare insurance company, but I was not able to save a lot of money to help with my dream, as well as provide for my family,” said Ali.
While in Texas, he discovered the opportunities that the Air Force could provide.
“I found out the Air Force could help you chase your dreams and whatever it is you want to accomplish in life,” said Ali. “I immediately talked to a recruiter, became a U.S. citizen, and here I am. I absolutely love what I do and serving my country.”
Ali has had many instances where he was able to use the knowledge he obtained from medical school to his career in the Air Force.
“”It is amazing to have him as an asset to our team,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christian Baldwin, the NCOIC of the Primary Care Clinic for the 319th Medical Group. “It helps having him as a middle ground between the doctors and his coworkers, and that he is able to assist them with the knowledge that he has.”
While Ali currently works in an entry level medical position for the military, he still has his sights on a larger goal.
“A1C Ali has embraced his unique position with an attitude of humility, determination and an eagerness to learn,” said Air Force Capt. Christine Persinger, doctor for the 319th Medical Group. “He is using his patient experiences here to cement the knowledge that he already has and further sharpen his clinical skills. Hopefully, the scope of family medicine has provided him with some valuable experiences to better prepare him for the road ahead. It has been a pleasure working with him and I know that he will succeed in whatever he endeavors to do.”