Farah El-Sharkawy was born and raised in Cali, Colombia. At age 16, something changed in her life when she participated as a volunteer in a medical mission, Partners for Cancer Care and Prevention. American and Colombian doctors and nurses from the United States went twice a year to the poorest parts of Cali. They brought medical supplies, surgical equipment, medications, and lots of enthusiasm. Farah worked as an interpreter in the mission, where she closely interacted with patients and the health team. It was at that time that she decided to become a doctor.
Early in her medical career, Farah became passionate about research, especially in the field of cancer. Upon her graduation from medical school, she joined the Surgical Oncology Department at Mercy Medical Center as a research fellow. Her research focused on the role of hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy in the treatment of gynecologic cancers. Farah currently is enrolled in a residency program in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she aspires to make the most of her training to become an expert pathologist and researcher.