Rana Ballo, MD
Rana Ballo still remembers the day she entered a hospital as a bright-eyed high school volunteer and came out a doctor in the making. “That was when I made my decision.” Aware of her gift for math and science, Rana had always been drawn to medicine. The pull she felt from those hospital walls simply confirmed a suspicion she’d been harboring all along. From that day forward, Rana moved through her educational career with the decisiveness most students find only in grad school. Today, we proudly call this Wentcher Scholar 'Dr. Ballo.'
Rana grew up in West Rogers Park. She attended Whitney Young High School, where she excelled as an athlete, singer, and student. When it came time for college in 2002, Rana had to plan carefully, for she knew she had a long road of tuition ahead of her. With financial aid, and assistance from the Wentcher Foundation, Rana set off for the school of her choice: Duke University.
In college, Rana kept busy as a Chemistry major, Italian minor, and pre-med student. For a break from the books, Rana sang and played water polo, alongside work as a TA in organic chemistry. The dreaded “Orgo” was actually her favorite class. “A lot of kids hated it, but I helped calm them down.” Eager to move forward in her career, Rana began medical school at Loyola University just a few months after graduation.
For Rana, medical school was a time to discover her specific path in medicine. But it was also a time to give back. While a student, Rana tutored with Kaplan Prep. Her work there earned her a “Teacher of the Year Award” in 2007. That same year she had the opportunity to treat patients in villages throughout Guatemala, as part of a humanitarian aid effort sponsored by her school.
By her third year, Rana had discovered a passion for General Surgery. Observing an operation in her third year rounds, “It was love at first sight.” Upon graduation, she began her residency at Rush Medical Center. During this time, she rose through the ranks to become an Administrative Chief Resident. When asked about the past few years, Rana laughs to herself: “It’s been very tough. Very character building. But I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.” In 2015, Rana began a fellowship in Minimally Invasive Surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She now practices general surgery in Milwaukee, WI.
Rana sees her Wentcher Scholarship as one stepping stone on her path toward helping others. “I’m very grateful for the Wentcher Foundation. I hope I can have that kind of impact on someone else someday.”