Student Highlight: Semran Thamer

May 11, 2018

Semran Thamer perseveres and excels as he fills the gaps in social work

Semran Thamer has a life history that’s quite the read. At the age of six, he fled with his family from war-torn Iraq. As a refugee who spoke little to no English, Semran watched his father develop into a self-made man. The family lived in a shelter in Texas where a social worker helped his father find an apartment, get a new job, and work to support his family.

Semran was impressed by how the social worker opened doors to his family’s success, and he wanted to do the same for others. Enrolling at NYU, he pursued a degree in social work as a pre-medicine student. He worked at Bellevue Hospital as a volunteer social worker, ensuring clients were properly vetted and providing resources such as housing, adequate food, and employment. He consistently followed up with clients to secure their enrollment in programs that would provide optimal assistance.

But Semran’s journey didn’t stop there. During his course work and extracurricular activities at NYU, he saw the strong correlation between health and social work. On his many shifts in the Ambulatory Service Unit as an EMT the majority of his calls were drug related issues. “We would pick up the person, we would treat them, and the next week we would see them again…” This repetition led Semran to believe that the solution to these patients’ problems went beyond medical treatment. He saw how social work can address issues outside of the clinic, and as an EMT he learned that both the clinical and social aspects of health must be addressed to create a lasting impact in the community. Reflecting back on his experiences as a refugee and their medical challenges, while treating people every day who battle drug addiction, Semran was called to pursue a dual bachelor’s degree in Public Health and Chemistry.

Semran aspires to become a family physician who looks beyond an illness to how a patient’s lifestyle plays a critical role in well-being. “I understand that every individual has their own set of circumstances” says Semran. He aims to identify these circumstances and direct his patients to the resources that will help them find jobs, housing, and food when necessary. He would like to continue working in NYC, where he believes he can make the greatest impact in the lives of people from all over the world

Unfortunately, the social work program where Semran volunteered has experienced budget cuts and a loss of personnel. Collaborating with a co-worker, he came up with an idea to fill this gap with digital social work. The creation of SocioConnect was launched in February 2018. It’s an app that allows anyone to create a profile and answer questions that will generate a list of resources and instructions in one comprehensive platform. The app can also be used by physicians and social workers on behalf of their patients/clients.

Just a few weeks ago, Semran was inducted into the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health along with his peers. Upon graduation, he hopes to use his membership and the vast NYU alumni network to partner with those who can provide constructive insight so his innovation has a powerful impact.