Statements by Americans
The Medical Student
I firmly believe in the powerful message of Ecclesiastes 3:1, which states that every endeavor man can undertake has its own time and meaning. Looking back on my own life, I see these different seasons as stages of growth that have helped me to understand my own potential and the path that I wish to take in life. I feel that I have lived deeply and fully, and now wish to apply the valuable life lessons I have gained to what I feel is my true calling. Now is the season to explore the fascinating world of medicine, and to finally make that dream a reality.
As a child, I never believed that I could succeed. Growing up in one foster home after another, I lacked the stability that a youth needs in order to excel in classes and build a proper foundation for the future. I was pregnant by the age of eighteen, and dropped out of school to try to forge a future for my children. Life was difficult but fulfilling, and I found much joy in being the mother of two lovely children. The day my second child was diagnosed with Krabbe’s disease, however, all of my happiness seemed to vanish before my very eyes.
Krabbe’s disease is both terminal and debilitating, and the doctors gave my daughter a life expectancy of eighteen months. Swallowing my shock and sorrow, I devoted myself to making the most of the precious time I had left with my child. I researched intensively on Krabbe’s disease, learning as much as I could about its mechanisms and the course it would run. I applied these lessons to caring for my daughter, and provided her with the twenty-four hour a day care that she required. Because I was afraid she would die at any moment, I never left her side, even to go to work. In order to pay the bills, I took in outside sewing and odd jobs. But no sacrifice was too great for my daughter. She lived to the age of four, long past her expectancy, which the doctors attributed to my constant care.
Being such an intimate witness to the struggle of life and death left me with a deep sense of human fragility. I realized that the human body is so very intricate and beautiful in its complex delicacy. Working closely with doctors, studying medical texts, and nursing a very sick little girl gave me my first taste of medicine. I was too numbed with pain, however, to focus my thoughts on any plans to enter that field. I instead tried to deal with my grief while providing for my remaining child as a single mother. During the next few years, I worked as a secretary and a beautician, and eventually opened a beauty salon of my own. As a business owner, I entered a new world of innovative ideas and social responsibility. Running the salon taught me the valuable lesson of “people pleasing,” and I gained the confidence and communication skills to fight for my rights as a businesswoman. I also devoted much time and funding to my community. I knew full well the horrors of poverty, and often performed services for the local nursing home and charities. My life was finally beginning to stabilize, and I decided that the time had come to think about the dream of medicine that had grown during my daughter’s illness.
Because my days were devoted to running the beauty salon, I attended college during the nights. I was hesitant at first; although I felt drawn to medicine, I did not know if I could handle the coursework. I therefore decided to explore the field before committing myself to it. I found part-time work in the medical office of a local prison, which gave me much exposure to the rigors of health care. Working with prisoners was an amazing experience, for it taught me that all humans need compassion, no matter what their past or their crimes. Whenever a man walked into the clinic, I saw him not as a prisoner, but as a human being in need of help. I poured all of my compassion into my work, and did my best to ensure that these men were receiving the care that every human deserves.
Because I was in a prison environment, the office granted me much more opportunity for hands-on care than I could have found in a public setting. For instance, I often changed bandages and assisted in minor surgeries. On one memorable day, I helped treat a young boy who had nearly cut off his thumb while working in the kitchen. The knife had bitten deep into his palm, and his thumb seemed to be dangling by a thread. Far from feeling repulsion, I was fascinated by the sight of his hand’s internal parts. I realized that I was viewing the physiological structures that enabled movement, and found the experience to be breathtaking. My resolve snapped into place. I knew then that medicine was my true calling, and I enrolled in Georgia Southern University immediately as a full-time student.
Attending college at this point in my life has not been easy. I live seventy miles away from campus, and commute every day. The distance always seems so tiny when I think of the wealth of information I am gaining in my classes, and the many noble goals that are now within my grasp. College is certainly not the only aspect of my life right now. I revel in white water rafting, horseback riding, and cabinet making, and enjoy the challenges and hard work that fill these activities. Having been married to a farmer for the past ten years, I also know the basics of running a farm. I am an advocate for birth control, and have devoted much of my time to convincing sexually active adolescents to seek family planning services. Additionally, I have striven to prepare myself for making meaningful contributions to my community. Because I am from a region with a large Hispanic population, I spent a summer in Costa Rica strengthening my knowledge of the Spanish language, as well as broadening my cultural awareness of other peoples and customs. I believe that a physician must be attuned to all of the needs of the community, be they physical or emotional or cultural.
Now is the season for me to tackle my true goal of medicine. I believe that all of my life experiences have been necessary to bring me to this point. I am mentally prepared and persistent enough to excel at any endeavor, and have developed the compassion and commitment to medicine that will drive me through the years to come. I look forward to my future with great anticipation, and know that the time has finally come for me to realize my dreams.
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