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‘My saving grace was our strong family structure’: Cleveland auto mechanic finally achieves his dream of becoming a doctor — at age 51

An experienced auto mechanic and small business owner in Cleveland, Ohio, has finally fulfilled a lifelong dream. At age 51, he is now a doctor.

Earlier this year, Dr. Carl Allamby completed a long, circuitous path into medicine that began when he was still a child. Allamby was one of six children. His father was a minister, and his mother was a homemaker. Despite his parents’ best efforts though, the family struggled to afford even the most basic necessities. They were on welfare and often couldn’t afford gas, electricity, or water.

“And if not for government handouts,” Allamby said, “we would have been without food on many occasions.”

Though Allamby felt the desire to become a doctor even back then, his difficult circumstances didn’t allow him to give the idea much thought. Instead, he took a part-time job at an auto parts store and performed repair jobs on the side. He took to the work quickly and managed to open his first shop at 19.

“In a sense, I started Allamby’s Auto Service mostly out of desperation and necessity,” Allamby admitted.

Then, at age 34, he decided to try to grow his business by pursuing a business degree at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio. That decision changed his life.

In his final year there, he was forced to take an introductory biology course to complete the business program. That course once again reignited his interest in medicine.

“Learning about some of the incredible basic functions of the body reminded me of my childhood ambitions to become a doctor,” he recalled.

So, he enrolled in pre-med courses at Cuyahoga Community College and began volunteering at a local hospital.

“Initially, I worked in a pediatric ward for immune-compromised children, providing activities for them during their often long-term stay.”

By 2015, Allamby was accepted into medical school at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Now, seven years later, Allamby has completed his residency and works as a full-time attending emergency medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic’s Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

Despite all the hard work and sacrifice, Allamby has no regrets about leaving the repair shop for the emergency room.

“I cannot be more happy than where I am now,” he claimed. “When you look up and the day is over and it’s time to go home, you cannot believe nine hours has passed. I leave so energized.”

He also acknowledges that he wouldn’t be a doctor, if it weren’t for his family.

“My saving grace [growing up] was our strong family structure,” he said. “My siblings and I always stuck together and weathered our hardships as a team.”

Now a husband and father of four, Allamby said that his family, especially his wife Kim, continues to support him. He also hopes that his story will inspire others to pursue their dreams.

“I feel we all have the opportunity to make our lives better. If you want it, go after it,” he said. “Don’t give up.

“Plan your work and work your plan,” he continued. “Your sacrifices today will produce advantages for tomorrow.”