D A N I E L G H A J A R
Burning Tree Country Club, caddie | University of Connecticut | Class of 2017
The first WGA Caddie Scholar Alumni under the spotlight is Daniel Ghajar, a former four-year caddie at Burning Tree Country Club. He recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in science, with a focus on Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Connecticut. Impressively, the Stratford native finished his degree in three years! Daniel’s love for nature and the world around him motivates his studies and fuels his ambition to make a change in the world.
Daniel’s involvement in extracurricular activities during his college years paved the way for his success and contributed to a fulfilling college career. He was involved in a program called Hall Associations, where he learned about event programming and broadened his understanding on inclusion and cultural competency. Daniel also had the opportunity to take a spring break trip to a national park trip with UCONN. This experience, he says, was life changing; being able to work with nature and create friendships, all while learning how to work as a team and getting tasks done together. Daniel also made time to volunteer at a local hospital where he shadowed doctors to broaden his understanding on patient care and the healthcare system.
If there’s one thing that Daniel can share with current college students, it’s to get involved in as many things as possible. “The experiences will speak for themselves,” he reflects.
Q: What was your college major? What made you pursue your academic studies in this major?
A: I graduated from University of Connecticut in three years with a Bachelor’s of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology. I knew right out of high school that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, and I saw this as a perfect academic plan to set myself up for success in medical school. I am also a big nature fan, and learning about the intricate processes that life functions by is fascinating to me and helps me to have a greater appreciation for life and the natural world around us.
Q: If caddying has taught you anything, what has it been?
A: Caddying has taught me the power of personal connections and networking. My father was also a caddie and found a career through a connection he made on the golf course! I have had golfers help me as well with advice, contacts at medical schools, and even resume reviews. You never know how far just a little conversation can take you.
Q: If you were to give back to the community, how would you do so?
A: I give back to the community by educating them on various health topics to empower them to create positive change in their lives. For example, a few months ago my students and I did a service project at a homeless shelter educating clients on ways they could manage stress and relieve physical chronic pain by practicing different meditation and stretching techniques. The group was so happy to learn about different ways they could help and several reported during our later visits that they had been using what they had learned from us to help them, which was awesome to hear! I feel that educating people on how they can improve themselves is of enormous importance, as they can hold on to that knowledge beyond just the short time we have with them to help them improve their health and lives.
Q: What does the future hold for you?
A: I am currently working as a program assistant with the non-profit Southwestern Connecticut Area Health Education Center (AHEC). This past year I served as an AmeriCorps member with AHEC working with youth in high schools and colleges in the Greater Bridgeport area as both an educator and mentor providing them with knowledge, experiences, and resources to encourage them to pursue higher education and careers in the healthcare field. I provided them with lessons and activities in the classroom and engaged them in service projects aimed at providing education to the underserved communities throughout Bridgeport at sites including homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and after-school programs. This next year I will be working with AHEC to supervise the new AmeriCorps members through their service terms while also providing assistance with various other public health education initiatives that we are conducting. I am also applying for medical schools across the country to proceed forward with my plans to become a physician beginning next year.