by TRACY ZOLLINGER TURNER
When Roxanne Rajaii was a senior at Bloomington High School South, she had a strong sense of the career and life she wanted. Fifteen years ago, she and nine other high-achieving high school students were featured in a story called “Great Expectations” in Bloom’s very first issue. On her way to the University of California, Berkeley to study bioscience, Rajaii said she wanted to become a doctor. And now she is.
After graduate school at Georgetown University, medical school at A.T. Still University in Missouri, and a medical residency in Michigan, Rajaii returned to Bloomington to practice in 2019. She considered several different specializations, but dermatology had a personal pull.
“I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was 2, so I was in and out of dermatology offices for most of my childhood and young adulthood,” she says. “That was the biggest reason I wanted to go into medicine, and dermatology in particular. I know the detrimental effects of skin disorders—not just on the skin, but on a person’s mental health and how they perceive themselves and their confidence. The office that I work in now [Dermatology Center of Southern Indiana] is actually the office that I went to as a kid, so I have truly come full circle.”
Rajaii was born in Bloomington but spent part of her early childhood in Iran with her mother, teacher and artist Rosa Payravi, and her ailing grandfather. Rajaii’s father, Mohammed, remained in Indiana, where he worked at the Indiana University Herman B Wells Library. Rajaii returned to Bloomington in elementary school and remains connected to the very first friends she made at Childs Elementary. “They welcomed me to a new school and to a new culture and helped me with the language,” she says. “I think that’s one of my most profound memories.”
Rajaii met her husband, anesthesiologist Damon Morris, in medical school. After spending the first four years of their marriage in different states to complete their residencies, they are happy to be working in the same city, and to “serve the community that raised me,” says Rajaii.
Her approach to medicine remains as patient centered as possible.
“I went to medical school because I knew I wanted to be able to relate to people the way that I was related to as a patient, or the ways I thought relationships from providers to me as a patient could have been significant,” she says. “Those were my driving forces. If you are in it for the money or the prestige or things like that, those aren’t strong enough reasons to withstand the pressures that medicine puts on you.”