A more than usual amount of sweat dripped from my hands as I held the fifth-grade science fair certificate. I was proud to stand, in my best white dress, as the only African-American female recipient at Monticello Elementary School. This early period in my academic life was marked by a growing interest in science, which eventually, converged with a personal scientific revelation. Soon, I was to learn the circumstances of my premature birth and how medicine enhances and saves lives. My single mother demonstrated strength and perseverance raising me, but especially at my birth. Born premature at 32 weeks, my mother stopped at nothing to see that I was born healthy as possible. With a team of well-trained health professionals, she accomplished this goal. Particularly fascinated by the fact my mother’s amniotic fluid unexplainably reappeared one morning, I expanded my general interest in science into an interest in medicine.Order now
I spent my high school days earning good grades, running track, and playing basketball. I then enrolled at Bowling Green State University and continued to look for educational opportunities in science. During my junior year, the university named me as one of its first learning assistants for general chemistry. As the only female minority representative, it was an accomplishment to help another student of color, given her circumstances, earn a “B” in the course. This experience taught me the importance of minority representation and having relatable mentors. I was proud to learn, while also being able to teach.
As my college years progressed, my decision to become a physician was solidified. While shadowing inspiring medical professionals, such as neurosurgeons, obstetricians/gynecologists, ophthalmologists, and internal medicine physicians, I saw how they interacted with patients, performed in high pressure situations, and completed successful surgeries. Shadowing a physician who has practiced in Africa proved to be a particularly motivating experience and formed my interest in health care delivery to underserved populations. Detailing her professional journey in Africa, I learned she successfully delivered a baby and saved the mother, while persevering through an AIDS challenge and recommendations not to proceed with the delivery. This was a full circle moment for me. As the physician was for me, I was for my student and mentee – an example of the possibility of achieving a seemingly impossible goal.
Her accounts of Africa’s healthcare delivery challenges inspired me to see first-hand the scope of health disparities and provide any contributions. During my junior and senior year, I volunteered to assist generating mobile clinics in Nicaragua and Africa. Traveling to these locations and interacting with the locals left an unforgettable impression on me. For example, I facilitated a tooth-brushing station in Tanzania where I met a young girl named Celia. As I demonstrated the circular motion of brushing, her initial look of confusion turned to a smile as she mimicked the motion on her own. We quickly became friends. I later reflected on the joy that such a small thing that we take for granted can bring to someone who has limited access to basic hygiene and medical care. While volunteering abroad, I obtained an understanding of the constraints of poverty. The high incidence of HIV/AIDs, births taking place on the floor due to lack of beds, accident victim’s deaths due to lack of emergency care access, and the scarcity of basic medicines and condoms showed me the severe needs of underserved populations. I was thrilled with the opportunity to make lasting cross-cultural connections and humbled by the friendliness and heartfelt gratitude of the people we served.
Ultimately, I want to become a physician and provide care to those in need as a function of purpose and gratitude. I aspire to create a path of wellness for those who are medically challenged and have limited access to basic care due to economic disparity. Having the perspective of a double minority helps me to appreciate the need for all to be given the opportunity to live healthy and productive lives. Additionally, my medical volunteer experience abroad will allow me to demonstrate cultural competence with diverse patient populations. My ambition is to not only be a physician, but be a physician dedicated fully to her patients. I’d love to mimic that same dedication seen from the physicians I shadowed and shown by my mother.