Dr. Gulshan Harjee’s smile lights up a room and she shares her life experiences that shaped the person she is today. Gulshee, as she is fondly referred to, is a co-founder of Clarkston Community Health Center (CCHC), a non-profit clinic that provides patient-centered medical care to the uninsured and underserved residents of Clarkston, a city known for its ethnic diversity and recently settled refugee population. She serves pro bono as the Chief Marketing Officer, Board Member, and teacher/mentor to students at CCHC.

After the untimely and tragic death of her first husband, Gulshee was the primary breadwinner for her children. She started by volunteering at a free clinic very early in her career. “It was my pledge that when my circumstances allow, I would devote myself to mitigating in my own way the issue of accessible healthcare for the indigent and marginalized communities,” she shares.

Gulshee’s tenacity and hard work led her to the present day, where she works closely with monitoring the quality of patient care at CCHC, as well as recruiting and negotiating collaboration agreements. “Being able to provide expertise, jobs, and decent pay to my employees, and being able to communicate with my patients in six languages is a gift I could not trade for anything else.”

In the past, Gulshee has served on the boards of the Rialto Center at Georgia State University, HealthSouth Blood Center, and Glitter of Hope. She also spent 18 years serving with the Dekalb Medical Center and Emory Healthcare in Decatur, Georgia. She was also a member of the Southeast Ismaili Council when it first began in 1985.

“Giving back to society is what makes a human being complete and makes a life well-lived,” Gulshee shares. She reflects on lifting the lives of the underserved as a key pillar in Islam and notes her desire to assist in any situation in which she is called upon to serve the community.

With all the wisdom that she shared, we were curious to ask Gulshee how she gets through a bad day. “In my field, not being able to reach every patient who would like a consult can be defined as a bad day,” she says. “During a pandemic, traveling and escaping may pose some challenges. Through praying, exercising, reading, gardening, listening to ginans, and listening to my mum’s voice at the end of the day bring me comfort and solitude to help recharge.”

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Dr Gulshan Harjee in her clinic.
Dr Gulshan Harjee in her clinic.

The work that this physician does was recognized recently at a virtual awards ceremony at the State Capitol of Georgia, recognizing her as the recipient of the Yellow Rose Nikki T Randall Servant Leadership Award. Every year during Women's History Month, the Georgia Legislature recognizes outstanding women in  Georgia who exemplify leadership and inspiration.

According to the Georgia Senate, Gulshee was bestowed the Yellow Rose as she has “diligently and conscientiously devoted innumerable hours of her time, talents, and energy toward the betterment of her community and state, as evidenced by her superlative and distinguished service in the medical field; and Dr. Harjee co-founded a medical practice in Decatur, Georgia, and later went on to work at Clarkston Community Health Center, where she has served as an inspiration to her colleagues and associates; and raised from humble beginnings, Dr. Harjee takes pride in serving immigrants, refugees, and the poor, viewing this service as an opportunity and privilege to give back to her community; and she has successfully leveraged her vast professional and community service network to establish strong collaborative partnerships with prominent universities and health care  institutions  and  was  named  Atlanta's  Top  Doctor  as  a  result  of  her  dedication  to excellence; and Dr. Harjee has established a glowing reputation of renown throughout the state for her personal commitment to the health and welfare of the citizens of Georgia.”

Gulshee was also celebrated as the L'Oreal Paris Honoree Women of Worth National Honoree and named among Atlanta’s 500 Most Powerful Leaders by Atlanta Magazine. Additionally, she was acclaimed as a Points of Lights honoree, an award established by President George W. Bush. “I am grateful for this opportunity to serve the great state of Georgia and for the opportunity to be a naturalized citizen of America,” she says.

Her advice for young professionals who are starting or trying to choose a career path? Gulshee suggests the younger generations follow their passion, gifts, and talent. She also shares that living and practicing with high morals and following the values and ethics laid out by Mawlana Hazar Imam is of utmost importance.

“What motivates me is teaching the next generation of healthcare providers,” she shares. “Empowering individuals from marginalized communities and employing them to become breadwinners in a competitive industry brings me immense joy.”

Gulshee’s story is an inspiration to many and her view on her experiences and opportunities is rooted in gratitude. “The Lord gave me many highs, but many serious lows as well,” she remarks. “I believe I became a kinder, more tender, and compassionate person as I healed through them one at a time.” She shares that life is full of injustices and discrimination, but through her travel, she witnessed vulnerable children as they fought diseases and lack of healthcare which empowered her. “I am a small fish in a tank of sharks,” she explains. “I can only do so much, but as long as I am able I shall fight with the best of my ability.”

Gulshee shared details about her latest project, a state-of-the-art patient comprehensive facility that will expand to a three-phase academic campus. This facility will be located in the heart of Clarkston and will serve local marginalized communities. Texas Entrepreneur Shoukat Dhanani has generously pledged $2.5 million towards the relocation, while his sister Dilshad has also volunteered at the current clinic.

This move will allow Gulshee and her colleagues to continue addressing the medical and dental needs of immigrants and underserved communities in the area.