QUEENS - Dr. Ali Jilani now walks the halls of a hospital as a doctor – a significant difference from when he was growing up and was in and out of hospitals as a patient with cerebral palsy.
"In those early teenage years, it was a lot about me feeling inferior and not good enough," Dr. Jilani said.
It hasn't only been a physical battle for the 27-year-old, but an emotional one dealing with psychological issues a person with a disability may develop.
Dr. Jilani says being a doctor with a disability isn't a disadvantage.
The Pakistan-born medical resident has overcome many hurdles, as he's now completing his residency at Northwell’s LIJ Forest Hills Hospital.
He said being a doctor with a disability isn't a disadvantage.
"When my patients see me, they are able to connect with me more in the sense that they feel more vulnerable," he added.
What inspired him to dream big was seeing people like Bethany Hamilton, the surfer who lost her left arm from a shark bite back in 2003.
Surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm from a shark bite back in 2003.
"That really, really made a difference and made me believe I can achieve a lot," Dr. Jilani recalled.
Through motivational speaking, he advocates for others with disabilities to chase their dreams and works to change the perception of people with disabilities with the support of his loved ones like teachers, friends and family along the way.
Dr. Jilani advocates for others with disabilities to chase their dreams through motivational speaking.
"If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be here, and I wouldn't have achieved what I have achieved," Dr. Jilani said.
Dr. Jilani said he's proud of his disability and recognizes it as a core part of his identity.