Hometown: Killeen, TX
Undergraduate: Texas State University, BS in Microbiology, minor in Biochemistry
Graduate: Chatham University, MS in Biology
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you came to Drexel?
I grew up in a small military town in central Texas and graduated with my BS in Microbiology from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. While attending college, I was in the microbiology club, physics club and Medical Explorers club. After graduating, I traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to complete my MS in Biology at Chatham University to further prepare myself for the rigors of medical school.
Once I moved back to Austin, Texas, I wanted to act on one of my passions — my interest in fashion — before attending medical school, so I began working at Nordstrom as a women’s shoes sales associate. During my time as a sales associate, I was able to meet some really great people from various backgrounds and got paid to do what I love: talk to people. From picking dinner date outfits to choosing wedding heels, there was never a dull moment at work. I was really able to sharpen my people skills, as well as communication skills, and I truly believe that it will translate through my work with my future patients.
What drew you to medicine in general, and to the College of Medicine specifically?
I knew I wanted to be a physician since middle school, but I honestly did not really know that was the only career path for me until my third year of undergrad, where a trip to the emergency room changed the trajectory of my pre-med path forever.
After a trip to the university food court, I began to get a sharp pain in my stomach, which was food poisoning, but I didn’t know that then. After thinking I could wait it out, the pain got so excruciating that I had no choice but to make the long haul to the emergency room. As soon as I walked through the revolving doors, the front desk personnel redirected me to the free clinic across the street; they did that without even asking my name, without even greeting me. It was in that moment, that I knew that I needed to become a physician because who knows how many countless Black patients have gone through dehumanizing experiences like mine, and worse.
I chose to attend the College of Medicine for many different reasons. From the beginning, the interviewers were so welcoming and made me feel very comfortable during a highly stressful time. By the end of the interview, I could tell that the faculty and staff really cared about their students, and the environment was very collaborative. Lastly, the College of Medicine takes pride in giving back to their community, something that means a great deal to me. I was drawn to opportunities to join student-run outreach programs or volunteer in local clinics; the chance to be a part of a cohort of like-minded students making a difference in a community is really what drew me to the College of Medicine.
How do you think your undergraduate studies, and any work, research or continuing education experiences you had prior to medical school, will prepare you for this next step in your academic career?
During my undergraduate studies, I majored in microbiology and minored in biochemistry. From the stories I have heard from current medical students and the experiences I have had during undergrad, I believe that my undergraduate studies have shown me how not to study in medical school. With how fast paced everything is and how much material we must absorb in such a short amount of time, I know the way I studied in undergrad will not suffice. I do, however, believe that my graduate school education will help me tremendously. Going into graduate school, I knew that I had to make a substantial change in my study habits to keep up with the amount of material that was being thrown at me. Learning how to manage my time better, working with my peers more often, and actually changing the way I studied the material is what I had to do, and I believe this will help me tremendously in medical school. Although I know I will have to continuously alter my study habits to adapt to the material, graduate school gave me a leg up.
Outside of medicine, you have an interest in fashion. What kind of role does this play in your life? Do you think it will be helpful as you go through medical school to have an outside interest that you're passionate about?
I always told myself if I did not become a doctor, that I would be a personal stylist. Ever since I can remember, fashion has played a big role in my life and it has seeped through into my pre-med career also. One of the biggest things fashion has taught me is how to express myself and be comfortable in my own skin, which, makes others more comfortable in theirs. I have had many instances where patients would ask me about my jewelry and tell me they liked it, which then turned into a conversation [about] themselves, their kids, or anything else they wanted to share with me. By the end of these patient visits, the patient, doctor and myself would be laughing, smiling and looking forward to the next visit. Having those kinds of conversations with patients really means the world to me because it means that they feel comfortable disclosing personal information to me, which is needed in this profession.
Going through medical school, I believe it is very important to have an outside hobby to help prevent burnout. I think fashion is the perfect hobby for me because it transcends just being a hobby; it allows me to express myself and create a comfortable environment for both myself and those around me, including my future patients.
You also have an interest in working in underserved areas and helping better the representation of physicians from underrepresented communities. What inspired these goals? How do you hope to start working toward these goals during your time in the College of Medicine?
Many specialized physicians are located in large metropolitan areas because that is where the most resources and patients are, which leaves patients living in underserved areas struggling to travel to appointments, or not able to access treatment at all. I have a passion for serving the underserved because everyone deserves access to quality health care. I plan on moving forward with accomplishing these goals by starting various programs affiliated with the new medical school and Reading Hospital. My biggest aid in helping the community is the community itself, and if we work together, we can meet the needs of the people that need it the most.
I had the pleasure of seeing my first Black doctor a year ago. I grew up in a military town full of diversity, yet I didn’t see my first Black doctor until I moved to Pittsburgh. Representation in medicine matters because it is important for a patient to have the option to see a provider that has had the same experiences as their patients. With shared experiences between a patient and the physician, it will be easier to establish a dynamic patient-physician relationship, which will lead to better care in the long run. Lastly, having more representation in medicine will give little Black girls and Black boys hope that one day they can become a physician too, and can contribute to becoming the representation others need in future generations.
What are you most looking forward to about medical school?
I am most excited about meeting new people from various backgrounds and learning from them as much as I learn in the classroom. To me, medicine is more than just curing patients. It is inclusion. It is learning from patients. It is celebrating a patient’s success. Medicine is all-encompassing, and I am excited to be a part of the thousands of future physicians wanting to make a change, whether it be large or small.