Sadat Zaman

MSCM Student Sadat Zaman Driven by Passions for Basketball, Helping Underserved Communities, and Holistic Health 

Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) student Sadat Zaman, MSCM ’24, has been playing basketball in parks around Los Angeles for most of his life. He noticed something remarkable—many players in their 60s and 70s still hold their own against players in their 20s. 

“I asked them how they stay in such good shape, and all of them said they just kept playing,” Zaman said. 

This experience highlights the pivotal role of physical fitness in overall health—particularly when paired with nutrition. 

“Physical activity bleeds into many areas, such as preventing chronic diseases and improving your mental health,” Zaman said. “I specifically like basketball because it’s a unique sport. It’s one of the only sports where you have to be on offense and defense. Plus, there’s a lot of sprinting, jumping, and moving side-to-side. So it keeps your tendons and ligaments healthy and builds stamina and confidence.” 

Zaman is also drawn to the communal aspect of basketball. His desire to become a trailblazer in community medicine intersects with his passion for the sport. He plans to one day start a free basketball league for children and adults in underserved communities. 

Zaman was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. Both of his parents immigrated from Bangladesh in the 1980s.  

“You have to pay money to play in basketball leagues, and my family was never that wealthy,” Zaman said. “My parents always had to save a lot so that I could play. But luckily, they saw the value in it—other kids’ parents did not. So I understand how hard it can be for many kids here, which is why I want to make it free for them.” 

Zaman went to UC Irvine as an undergraduate, where he started as a biology major before falling in love with anthropology. During his senior year, his father had a stroke. 

“I took my dad to the neurologist, the physical therapists, the occupational therapist, the family medicine doctor, and the ophthalmologist,” Zaman said. “I got to meet all these doctors and see how they were helping to take care of my dad.” 

This experience reignited his interest in pursuing a career in medicine. 

“I saw how much of an impact healthcare workers can have on a patient’s life and the whole family,” Zaman said. 

The process also reminded him of basketball in terms of the teamwork involved, with various healthcare professionals playing different—but all essential—roles. 

Another pivotal experience for Zaman was setting up a clinical trip to the Dominican Republic for Global Medical Training, a UC Irvine student organization on which he served as president. They provided free medical care to four underserved villages. 

“I realized how big of an impact a physician can have on these underserved communities. I saw how people respect what you say, and you can directly improve their health outcomes and their family’s lives.” 

At the same time, Zaman feels that his anthropology studies taught him valuable information about how societal and cultural factors can significantly affect health outcomes. 

All of these factors—his respect for the medical profession, his desire to help underserved communities, and his interest in addressing health from a holistic perspective—drew him to KGI’s Master of Science in Community Medicine (MSCM) program. 

“Even the admissions process is holistic,” Zaman said. “They don’t just look at your GPA. They look at your ideas and your life experiences. I think that’s why my classmates are some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.” 

One highlight so far has been the Health Systems Sciences course, which teaches students how to improve healthcare in medically underserved communities from a business perspective. 

“I learned a lot about the management side of healthcare and how to suggest ideas to a healthcare company to help improve their services,” Zaman said. 

For his Capstone project, Zaman will educate stroke patients on how to take their blood pressure and the importance of taking blood pressure to prevent secondary stroke—a topic close to his heart after his father’s stroke. He appreciates the support he’s received from Capstone instructor Dr. Katherine Y. Brown

“Dr. Brown has been amazing in providing articles and suggesting ideas of where and whom I can help,” Zaman said. “She has so much knowledge about everything. I also appreciate how accessible she’s been.” 

He has also enjoyed learning from Dr. Pamela Smith, Dr. Susan Yazdanmehr, and Dr. Christopher Lopez in Intro to Life Sciences, Infectious Diseases, and Health Systems Sciences, respectively. 

“Dr. Smith and Dr. Yazdanmehr are so knowledgeable because they’re both physicians,” Zaman said. “When we have questions, they answer in detail and are always willing to help us more. Dr. Lopez has 20 years of experience in public health, and he teaches us so much through his firsthand experience. It’s helpful having professors who have careers that you want to do because they can provide you with such valuable insight.” 

After he completes the MSCM program, Zaman plans to apply for medical school. He is considering specializing in either family medicine or sports medicine. 

Above all, he wants to give back to the community where he was born and raised. In addition to starting a free basketball league, he would also like to start a food pantry. 

“I dream of working in the underserved communities within Los Angeles,” Zaman said. “That’s where I grew up, and that’s the community I know best.” 

Brown has enjoyed working with Zaman to prepare for the Capstone project and admires his dedication to community health. 

“Sadat Zaman is committed to serving underserved communities,” Brown said. “Capstone provides an opportunity to listen to the needs of stakeholders and engage with the community in a meaningful way. It has been wonderful to mentor Sadat through this process. I consider it an honor to be part of his journey and look forward to seeing his success and all of the lives that are positively changed due to his contributions to community health.”