For this Miller School student, pursuing a medical career is a dream come true
By Bob Woods
Photography by Tom Salyer
t was a circuitous route that landed Narges Maskan at the Miller School four years ago. Born in Afghanistan, she fled with her single mother and younger sister as refugees during the first Taliban regime, settling in a small town in Southern California.
In high school, Maskan was diagnosed with an arrhythmia, which had gone undetected for years. “We lived in an underserved community with a large immigrant population and very few medical professionals, let alone pediatric cardiologists,” she said. Although delayed, her treatment not only alleviated an irregular heartbeat but also sparked her interest in becoming a physician.
That dream would be deferred, however — an outcome Maskan attributes to a limited education in her disadvantaged school system. Lacking the requisite coursework to apply to universities, she opted for community college and later transferred to the University of California, Davis, where she majored in biology. The experience led her to teach high school for two years with Teach For America outside Nashville, Tennessee. “I loved working with public school students who came from a background similar to mine,” Maskan said.
“But going to medical school was always the dream,” she added, and the Miller School has been a perfect fit. After three years in the M.D. program, Maskan accepted a yearlong research fellowship with the Dr. Phillip Frost Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery’s Wound Care Center, during which she studied and assisted patients suffering from chronic wounds and a debilitating skin disorder called hidradenitis suppurativa (HS).
Speaking about her work with HS patients, Maskan emphasized, “For many of them, their condition hadn’t been diagnosed for years, and they are so relieved to finally have an answer.” This scenario mirrored her own undiagnosed cardiac condition, strengthening her commitment to a career in dermatology, improving health care accessibility and advancing wound healing. She explained, “What drew me to this specialty are the complex medical conditions and the comorbidities patients have. To continue researching, learning about and providing assistance to these patients would be very rewarding.”