THERE IS NOTHING QUITE LIKE THE FERVENT CONFIDENCE OF A CHILD, full of hopes and dreams. Growing up, I was that type of child. I had an imagination that was hard to contain. I said, “I’m going to be a doctor, and a lawyer, and a teacher, and a musician!” Yet one day, I decided I would channel all those aspirations in one direction: medicine.
I was raised by my mother and grandmother, who cared for mentally and physically disabled individuals both inside and outside our home. Grounded in this environment, from a young age I wanted to be in a profession that would serve individuals on the periphery of society.
As a pre-med student at U-M, I benefited from work experience that introduced me to the administrative side of health care, both domestically and internationally. Through that work, my fascination with maximizing access to health care grew. I wanted to approach health care with integrity and a multifaceted perspective. I wanted to improve the health of individuals I might meet and entire communities I may never know.
Focused on building the capacity of underserved communities to address their health care goals, I returned to U-M and enrolled in the School of Public Health to earn a master’s degree in global health management and policy. Burning with childlike passion for addressing population-level care, my studies made me consider which values I regarded as important and how they would affect my role in health care.
Personal fortitude, integrity, and faith are tested in difficult environments. My graduate program challenged me academically, as did my life at the time. From struggling to live in the West Indies while working on health policy to my mother’s multiple hospitalizations to being displaced by a fire in my apartment building, the limits of my strength were stretched further than ever before. Most importantly, my faith in Jesus Christ was tested and purified in the crucible of these trials.
Looking back, I now understand what Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his 1963 book, “Strength to Love”: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Despite all the challenges, during graduate school, I taught at my former high school and emphasized to my students the tenets of leadership, excellence, achievement, and diversity that I learned from the LEAD Scholars program. I developed a full consultancy report to guide the development of Grenada’s new National Policy for Older Persons. I collaborated with key stakeholders to make policy recommendations for the Detroit Health Department regarding expansion of medication-assisted treatment. I also helped develop a business and process improvement plan for the Kisii Eye Hospital in Kenya.
These recent experiences have sharpened the lens through which I view the world. Emboldened by the values upon which I stand, I am now applying to medical school fully understanding the “why” behind everything I do. I will bring this steadfast devotion into my practice, no matter the circumstance, and I can thank my LEAD family for setting me on my way.
The LEAD Scholars Program provides scholarships to black, Latino, and Native American students who have been accepted into U-M. Visit umalumni.com/LEAD to learn how you can support the program and, thus, help create a more diverse campus.