Celebrating Our Graduates; College of Arts and Humanities

This trilingual Clemson graduate wants to bridge language gaps in healthcare


Rund Abdelnabi’s warm and infectious smile will be visible to the thousands at Clemson University’s December graduation ceremony as she crosses the stage in Littlejohn Coliseum. Her parents will watch with pride from the stands. Having roots in Palestine, they separately emigrated from Jordan to the United States, with Rund’s father initiating the transition in 1980.

Witnessing their daughter’s Clemson journey materialize has resulted from immense perseverance from the family. Rund now leaves with a degree in Language and International Health, ready to help Spanish and Arabic speakers surmount language gaps in healthcare.

“Sometimes it’s very intimidating when you go into a healthcare clinic. Although you might be able to speak limited English or be fluent in it, it’s scary,” Rund says. “They feel more comfortable if they have someone who can speak the language 100 percent and can help them out to make sure they’re not missing vital information. I saw my family go through that.”

Across continents, her study abroad host family in Córdoba, Argentina, is sure to send Rund well wishes over text on graduation morning. They know they’ll always have a place in her heart.

The six-month study abroad trip through Clemson University’s Córdoba Center not only provided real-world linguistic experience to improve Rund’s Spanish. It was soul-enriching. The allure of personable Argentinian healthcare providers stoked her aspiration to become a physician assistant, who works under the direct supervision of a licensed physician.

Rund returned from Argentina with a handmade mate mug. It’s used to drink yerba mate, a traditional South American drink made by steeping the dried leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant.

Rund returned in July with much more than oratorical fine-tuning – a handcrafted cup to drink yerba mate has been used more in the States than South America, and the new bond with three fellow majors who also studied abroad.

“It was an amazing experience,” Rund says. “I worked in a public health center and witnessed how the Argentinian healthcare system differs from America’s.”

Rund initially dreamed of dental school. She interned under a local pediatric dentist fluent in Arabic, French, Russian, English and Spanish. Fluent in three languages, Rund will soon dismantle barriers affecting her family and others.

“I thought this major was the best of both worlds because I did want to come out being close to fluent so I could serve a wider population in the future,” she says. “I’ve seen it in my community with those who cannot entirely speak English.”

There is no grand vacation to celebrate her milestones. Instead, it’s off to work two jobs to prepare to apply for physician assistant school in 2024.

Rund will work as a pharmacy technician and complete a year-long pre-physician assistant program.

As her Clemson chapter nears its end, Rund cherishes her time in the Muslim Student Association and the embrace of her host family, who welcomed her faith with open arms.

“It was such a great environment to learn about the culture and language. They just became my family,” she says. “They were very supportive of who I am as a person because in Argentina, they don’t have a lot of Muslims. We had a lot of conversations and got to know more about each other.”

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