Source: Getty Images Pro

Medical schools across the country recently announced who “matched” to residency and fellowship programs, a final step in becoming a licensed, practicing physician in the U.S. Thousands of qualified, experienced immigrant and refugee physicians were in the running for these slots, though they have already completed residency in their home countries. Many have practiced medicine for years — if not decades — abroad.

Yet this year, just 55 percent of these non-native international medical graduate applicants matched for residency, down six percentage points from 2020 match rates. By comparison, 93 percent of U.S graduates got spots. Scoring a scarce residency…

Photo credit: Wyut Yi Thin

When I was a kid, I always wanted to help people. I grew up watching Jackie Chan’s movies, and I admired that he saved people with his martial arts, which inspired me to learn Taekwondo in high school. When I got older and was about to choose a career, I wondered: What’s the best way I can help people at their most vulnerable? That’s when I decided to go after medicine.

Photo Credit: Christina Noel

In Venezuela I was at the top of my field. I worked for one of the largest financial groups in the world, and taught at a top-ranked university. But as circumstances in my country changed, I had to seek political asylum in the U.S., leaving my wife and young daughter behind.

When I arrived, I felt as if I had to relearn everything from scratch. The job search and interviewing process was so different from what I was used to in my home country. I felt isolated and like I would never fit in.

Belinda and the Chicago skyline. Photo credit: Christina Noel

In her home country of Ghana, Belinda was known as a “Boss Chick” — an ambitious woman who had built a successful career as an architect and project manager. She oversaw portfolios and projects of all sizes across the country. UpGlo was proud to champion Belinda’s professional ambitions in Chicago, supporting her in rebuilding a career in project management and design with McDonald’s corporate offices. Here is her story:

Back in my home country, in Western Africa, I earned a law degree and started a foundation providing legal aid, access to courts, and rehabilitation and reintegration for incarcerated women and children. I advocated tirelessly for reform of our country’s legal system, which was plagued by corruption and lack of due process. I helped more than 200 women get released on bail, and secured 35 acquittals.

I was a single mother of two children, helping other mothers. This work was my passion, my reason for getting up in the morning. But as my efforts started to get more press coverage…

My wife and I were living our dreams in Turkey, our home country. We had met by chance in a cafe and later married. We both had careers we loved: She was a lawyer, and I did IT and research work for the government. We were expecting our first child.

And then, in 2016, there was an attempted coup.

My family fled. We applied for asylum in the U.S. Six months later, I received my work permit. I was desperate to start working again. …

The #MeToo movement has illustrated that the challenges women face. In her new book, The Courage to Say No, Dr. Mahmood shares her unique perspective as an asylee who rebuilt both a life and career in the U.S. Upwardly Global was proud to support Raana in navigating her job search in the U.S.

Dr. Raana Mahmood

From my earliest days, the concepts of justice and equality were important to me. My parents saw my ambitions and were supportive of my professional goals. I eventually earned my medical degree.

But after I was married and had a son, my husband and in-laws weren’t happy…

Lulu at her office

I remember so clearly my first day in the United States.

I woke up in Detroit, a strange city where I knew no one. I had just left my family and new husband — a man I barely knew and had not chosen to marry — in Saudi Arabia. Everything I owned now was in a carry-on suitcase.

My very first thought was this: I want a cup of coffee.

It was such a simple thing to be able to walk out of my hotel on my own and find a coffee shop. I wouldn’t have had the freedom to…

Sandra with her husband in San Francisco

I never expected to be a single parent. One of the biggest surprises of my life came when my husband, Luis, learned that he had been approved for a green card to come to the United States. His parents had moved here from Honduras in the 1990s, and they had applied on his behalf years earlier. Suddenly, what had seemed like a remote possibility was now reality.

At the time, our son was only a year old. We had to make a choice — we could stay together in Honduras, or we could take the opportunity for Luis to come…

Every two seconds, crisis and conflict uproot a life across the globe.

A life like Andrew’s.

In his native Kenya, Andrew was an engineer and a successful entrepreneur, having built his own electrical services company. But government corruption and demands for bribes made daily life dangerous for Andrew and his family. When he could no longer meet the demands, his wife and child were assaulted in the family’s home. Andrew knew they had no choice but to leave their home, extended family, and the business he had worked so hard to build behind.

The family sought temporary refuge in neighboring…

Upwardly Global

Upwardly Global is a national nonprofit organization that works to eliminate employment barriers for skilled immigrants and refugees.

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