A Cleveland man who worked for 25 years as an auto mechanic has now, at age 51, realized his childhood dream of becoming a doctor.
Dr. Carl Allamby related his story of inspiration in an interview with Fox News Digital and recalled his upbringing in East Cleveland where his minister father struggled to make ends meet as a door-to-door salesman while his mother raised him along with five siblings.
“We faced economic hardships throughout my upbringing and were on welfare for what seemed to be my entire childhood,” said Allamby, recalling that on many occasions his family went without lights, gas or water.
“And if not for government handouts,” Allamby said, “we would have been without food on many occasions.”
He added, “I remember having a desire at a young age to become a doctor — but my life circumstances led me to a much different place.”
Allamby said in the phone interview, “As you can imagine, the situation my family and others in the neighborhood faced led to significant despair. While I’m sure our teachers at school tried to educate us as well as they could, the multitude of challenges a lot of us faced made our educational aspirations secondary to the fulfillment of our basic needs.”
He went on, “From my own experience, it is very difficult to focus on your education when your mind is filled with challenges outside the walls of the school. Food insecurity, safely making it to and from school, affording decent clothing and basic school supplies or just trying to fit in took precedent over studying and getting good grades.”
After working through high school at a local auto parts store and making car repairs on the side, Allamby opened his first auto shop at age 19.
“In a sense, I started Allamby’s Auto Service mostly out of desperation and necessity,” he said. Over the next 25 years Allamby would get married, have children and grow his auto service business. But after so much time in the same profession, he decided to go back to school at night, initially working toward a business degree. He enrolled at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio, in 2006 at the age of 34.
An introductory biology requirement for his degree rekindled his childhood dream of being a doctor.
“Learning about some of the incredible basic functions of the body reminded me of my childhood ambitions to become a doctor,” Allamby recalled, so in 2010 he enrolled in pre-med classes at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland.
This week’s #WCW goes out to Dr. Carl Allamby, the former Cleveland auto mechanic who changed career paths at age 47 to become a medical physician. What an inspiration to never give up on your dreams! #wearehued pic.twitter.com/rjZJBdxEKc
— HUED (@WeAreHUED) August 7, 2019
Allamby said he was “always infatuated with the way things worked — and the human body seemed to be the most complex of anything I encountered, which always fascinated me,” he told Fox News Digital.
“After my decision to pursue medicine, I started volunteering at a hospital in the Cleveland area,” he said. “Initially, I worked in a pediatric ward for immune-compromised children, providing activities for them during their often long-term stay.”
“In addition, I performed many hours of shadowing and volunteering in the emergency, urology and neurology departments at this and other hospitals.”
“Every exposure I had in medicine further solidified my choice to pursue a medical career,” he said.
“Over the course of five years or better, I attended weekend, evening or early morning classes in pre-medicine and other college studies while managing my business, lifestyle and household in order to transition my career,” he said.
“My exit from business could not be abrupt,” he explained. “I had too many people counting on me and too many bills to maintain.”
Incredibly, the father of four was successfully running a business and commuting to pre-med classes; after which he began attending medical school at Northeast Ohio Medical University in 2015. He graduated at age 47 and began his requisite emergency medicine residency in 2019. In 2022, he completed his residency and is now an attending physician at Cleveland Clinic’s Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.
A few years ago, Dr. Carl Allamby was a mechanic in East Cleveland. He decided to go to medical school & graduated at age 47. Now a resident @MyAkronGeneral, he addressed caregivers & community members at our #MLKDay2020 Celebration -an inspiration for all of us. pic.twitter.com/6ioxdniHbM
— Tom Mihaljevic (@TomMihaljevicMD) January 17, 2020
“In my previous life as a master technician, I worked on almost every make and model and fixed everything from brakes to major engine and transmission rebuilds,” he said.
He added humorously, “I had a lot of customers break down in tears or who were visibly shaken when I explained the diagnosis and eventual fate of their vehicle.”
Dr. Allamby credits the support of his family, particularly his wife, Kim, a physical therapist, for helping to make his dream a reality.
“I feel we all have the opportunity to make our lives better. If you want it, go after it. Don’t give up,” he told Fox News Digital.
“Plan your work and work your plan. Your sacrifices today will produce advantages for tomorrow.”
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