How a married couple made their dream come true by getting into TCOM
Zaid Siddiq had 48 hours to make a life-altering decision that would affect his wife, his family and his future. An offer to attend the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine had just rolled in on Friday, July 7, but he and his wife Iqra Ameen had already moved to Missouri in anticipation of both of them starting medical school the following week. Siddiq had until Monday morning to make his decision to accept or decline what looked like the last spot available in the Class of 2027.
It was a restless 48 hours for the couple as they wrestled with the decision. TCOM is part of their family, Zaid’s sister, Dr. Zara Siddiq, is a 2015 graduate, and his brother-in-law is also a TCOM graduate. Could this young couple that married in 2019 break apart to attend separate medical schools?
“That weekend was rough,” Ameen. said
It was the beginning of a 72-hour drama that would change the lives of Zaid and Iqra and was set in motion months earlier in ways that no one could have possibly foreseen.
“We actually thought about splitting up,” Siddiq said.
Drawn to medicine and TCOM
Iqra Ameen and her family immigrated to the United States from Peshawar, Pakistan when she was 2 years old. Growing up with very limited access to medical care and seeing the negative effect it had on her parents, they pushed her toward education and medicine.
“When you have a lack of access to medicine and education, you learn to value education and what it means to see a physician because growing up for me and my family it was hard to see them,” Ameen Said. “When you have a family member who is sick and you don’t know what to do, it’s such a helpless feeling. It drew me towards medicine because deep in my heart I never wanted to feel that way again.”
Ameen and her family moved to the Fort Worth area when she was seven and over time she became drawn to osteopathic medicine and TCOM. In high school, she visited the campus of the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth numerous times. She also saw the outreach being conducted by TCOM students in the community and knew this was the school she wanted.
“I had seen the work that TCOM students were doing in the community, especially with the RHI (Refugee Health Initiative) program and it really stood out to me as incredible,” said Ameen. “It is really beyond words the work being done in the community and the reputation of TCOM really attracted me to the school.”
Zaid Siddiq’s path to TCOM was a little more direct. With his sister being part of the Class of 2015, he was already knowledgeable about the school, but it was his interaction with TCOM graduates that pulled him toward the school.
“While I was thinking about college, I began to scribe for some doctors and it was there that I noticed the compassion and care that the TCOM doctors had,” said Siddiq. “I saw the extra steps they would take with patients and that pushed me to TCOM. Everything about the school pulled us towards them.”
Zaid and Iqra met through a family connection in 2017 and were married in 2019. They both graduated from UTA in 2020 and they knew what their next steps would be. Medical school.
All roads lead to HSC
The couple began the process of applying for medical school after graduation in 2020 but didn’t get any interviews in the cycle after only submitting a few applications.
Knowing they needed to make their applications stronger for medical school, they got some advice from a family member. Dr. Vernon Williams Jr. told them about the Master of Science in Medical Science program in HSC’s School of Biomedical Sciences and how it helped him. That sound advice wasn’t from just any doctor, it was Siddiq’s brother-in-law. Dr. Williams is a 2015 TCOM graduate, who met his future wife and Zaid’s sister, Zara, while in medical school.
“The Med Sci program really engrained in me that I want to do medical school and I’m so grateful for what they taught me,” said Ameen.
“During the Med Sci program, I was a medical assistant and my doctor was trusting me with a whole lot more because I was learning so much through the program,” said Siddiq.
The couple graduated from the program in 2022 and this time they were ready for a second shot at the medical school application cycle.
The couple didn’t want to take another year off, so besides TCOM, they applied at DO and MD schools in Texas and out of state. Then in December of 2022, Ameen got an email for an interview with TCOM. One week later, Siddiq got the same news, they were both getting interviews at TCOM. There was something else. The couple wasn’t hiding the fact they were married, but they also weren’t using it to get into medical school.
“I didn’t hide the fact that I was married and my husband was also applying,” said Ameen. “I just believed in us that we by ourselves and our own merits could get in. We both worked so hard to get to this point.”
The couple had other interviews at medical schools across the country along with TCOM. They didn’t receive any pre-match offers and when the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Services (TMDSAS) released its match list on March 3, neither Zaid of Iqra matched at a school in Texas, much less TCOM.
So they went onto TCOM’s waitlist which can have anywhere between 100-200 applicants on it. These are applicants deemed acceptable by the admissions committee, but seats are not available. But where did Zaid and Iqra rank?
What are the odds?
Despite not matching at TCOM, schools outside of Texas have a different process and for Zaid and Iqra things were looking up. They were both accepted into multiple medical schools across the country. Still, they both were holding out hope that they would make it into TCOM. March passed, then April, May, and into June without hearing anything from TCOM about a spot for either of them. With deadlines approaching, they had to make a decision.
“Our families were very supportive, and we knew that this could go all the way up until the first day of classes,” said Ameen. “We kept waiting until the very last minute, sending emails, letters of intent, and interest hoping that we would get a spot.”
They could wait no longer. Zaid and Iqra accepted spots at the Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Joplin, Missouri.
During the first week of July, the couple got settled into a new apartment, new town and ready for orientation to begin the next week.
“Our hearts were content that it just wasn’t going to happen,” said Siddiq. “Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”
The admissions process to medical schools across the nation is highly competitive, and TCOM is no different. For a variety of reasons, spots do open up and when that happens, TCOM’s Assistant Dean for Admission Dr. Mike Kennedy fills spots with names on the waitlist.
It was Friday, July 7 when Dr. Kennedy had a spot open up in the class, and Zaid Siddiq was the next name on the waitlist.
His initial enthusiasm was tempered by the fact that his wife, Iqra didn’t have a spot in TCOM yet and they didn’t know if she ever would. The couple was in Fort Worth for the weekend to see their family before starting medical school the next week. They wrestled the entire time about what to do.
“We wanted to stick together because medical school is so tough,” said Ameen.
“We talked with both of our families and made the decision to come and talk to Dr. Kennedy about our options.”
On Monday, July 10 the couple met with Dr. Kennedy in his office to see what, if anything could be done. What Dr. Kennedy knew and what he could tell them were two entirely different things. Iqra Ameen was the next person on the TCOM waitlist, behind her husband. Dr. Kennedy knew this, but he couldn’t tell them.
“They were asking what her chances were of getting in, but I couldn’t tell them she’s next on the list,” said Dr. Kennedy. “I told them sometimes people won’t show up, but that’s very rare.”
Dr. Kennedy graciously gave them a 24-hour extension to see who showed up or perhaps didn’t the following day. In the meantime, the couple set out for Missouri, orientation at KCU was beginning the next morning. Little did they know, just a little after midnight on July 11, an email came to Dr. Kennedy. A student had withdrawn from TCOM and there was one more spot to fill.
It was Tuesday, July 11 around 10 a.m. when Zaid and Iqra were in an orientation session when a call came through on Zaid’s phone. It was a Fort Worth number, but sometimes even technology can play games with you.
“My phone said “Scam likely,” said Siddiq. Knowing it could be Dr. Kennedy he answered anyways.
“I’m watching him walk out the door and he’s shaking his head yes,” said Ameen. “Right then they called a break. As I’m heading out the door, Zaid tells me it’s Dr. Kennedy from TCOM and he wants to see if he can talk to me”
“We quickly found a private study room and put the phone on speaker so we could both hear him,” said Siddiq. “That’s when Dr. Kennedy tells us that he wants to offer both of us a spot in TCOM. I had to put the phone down and on mute because we both started to celebrate.”
‘We told him that we both accepted and we will see you tomorrow,” said Siddiq. “When we left that study room we both had to take a second. We were so thankful, but we didn’t have much time because we had to leave all of our stuff and get back to Texas.”
The initial burst of excitement was tempered quickly by the daunting reality of what they faced. They had to first withdraw from KCU, get back to Fort Worth in 24 hours, find a place to live, pack up their stuff and be prepared to start medical school in less than a week.
The couple first went to the admissions office at KCU knowing they had to be professional and respectful of the situation.
“Everyone at KCU was very understanding and so good to us,” said Ameen. “They knew that these things happen and we wanted to make sure they had time as well to fill our spots. It turns out that one of those spots was filled by a good friend of Zaid’s.”
After withdrawing from KCU, the couple raced back to Fort Worth for orientation for the rest of the week. Then in a span of 48 hours with their family helping out, they drove to Joplin, moved out of their apartment, drove back to Fort Worth, found a place to live, unpacked their stuff, and joined the rest of the Class of 2027 for the first class at 8 a.m. on July 17.
“We were talking about how grateful we were to be in this situation,” said Siddiq. “We are just very blessed to be in this situation, our top school and the school we have been thinking about since high school. It is such a big blessing, to be here.”
“We were meant to do the Med Sci program and meant to get into TCOM at the last moment,” said Ameen. “It’s been an amazing month, but we are so happy to be at TCOM.”
1000-to-1, 10,000-to-1, or even more astronomical are the real odds of Zaid Siddiq and Iqra Ameen landing the last two spots at TCOM as a married couple ranked right next to each other on the waitlist.
“Two married people, interviewed on two separate days, ranked by two different admissions teams, ending up ranked next to each other and getting the last two spots into TCOM,” said Dr. Kennedy. “In my 20 years, I have never seen anything like that before. That’s once-in-a-lifetime.”
It was a dream come true for Zaid and Iqra, who hope to spend that lifetime together practicing osteopathic medicine thanks to TCOM.