North HS Grad's Story is an Inspiration

Long Journey from Nepal-Akron-Athens
Posted on 04/29/2022
Image of Nirmala Ghimirey(from Ben Siegel at

Nirmala Ghimirey was born in a refugee camp in Nepal without access to electricity, water or healthcare. The camp was gated, and there wasn’t much to do. She never imagined going anywhere further than the camp.

Ghimirey, now in her second year of medical school in Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (HCOM), spent 14 years at the camp before her family was resettled in Akron, Ohio, in 2009.

“In a few months, after everything was taken care of paperwork wise, I started ninth grade,” she explained. “At that time, I did not know much English. I knew my ABCs, which was taught to us at school in the camp, but in the new school I did not understand a single word the teachers said in class. The only thing I knew were the math problems.”

During her junior year of high school in 2010, she joined a biomedical program and started taking an interest in diseases and science. Ghimirey reached out to her teachers and mentors about her interest in medicine, who informed her she could attend college through scholarships, the Pell Grant and student loans.

“They helped me recognize that college and higher education was not just for people with rich and educated families,” she said. “Knowing about all of these things, I thought to myself once again, ‘This is something I’m interested in — I want to learn more about the diseases I saw in the refugee camp.’”

She obtained an undergraduate degree, earned her master’s degree and then applied for medical school.

“Now I’m here,” she said. “Today, studying about all the germs and parasites that existed in the camp, I don’t know how I survived all those years. I think I must have a very strong immune system.”

A first-generation college and medical school student, Ghimirey said studying medicine brings new challenges and obstacles each day. Luckily, she has the support from HCOM’s faculty and her peers.

“I would recommend Ohio University and HCOM, it has been fun and challenging,” she explained. “It allowed me to grow more as a person and challenge myself. I have met amazing people, each person with a story, and made wonderful friends. I was fortunate to have been accepted to OU-HCOM; I am grateful for learning about patients from a holistic view point.”

Ghimirey plans on graduating in 2022. She’s not sure what specialty she wants to pursue just yet, so she will enter her clinical rotations with an open mind and see what excites her the most.

No matter which specialty she chooses, Ghimirey has an entire community rooting for her.

“My family has always been supportive and are very proud of me,” said Ghimirey. “In Nepali culture, family is much more community-based, so it is not only my parents but the entire community is proud of me for all my accomplishments. Knowing this inspires me but also brings high pressure for me to succeed. However, knowing that what I am learning now will enable me to save someone's life or overcome an illness inspires me. Knowing that I would be able to make a difference in communities and individual lives inspires me to work hard and push myself through challenges.”
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