I am an advocate for supporting young minds who want to excel academically, I believe, no one has the right to determine ones academic success. If a young mind does not wish to improve themselves or their lot, then we cannot force them to do what they are not prepared to do. But there are a lot of young minds who want to succeed, who are determined to meet academic success, but fear that when they succeed, the academic institutions around them, will not be receptive to their story.
I was volunteering at the African-American Museum in Philadelphia; during my break a young black high school student, asked me about myself. After she shared her aspirations of becoming a physical therapist, I proceeded to share about being a pre-medical student and my endeavors, with The Cush Center for Learning, and The Medical Pledge. During the conversation, she looked astounded, as in how can a confident, young black woman can exist on this journey; of course, this was not a look I was alien to.
Throughout my young career, I received that look, from my own peers and from outside my race, so I reassured her, there are many more like me, you could be one of them. She sighed, so I asked if she gets involved in the medical schools in Philadelphia, she replied, “They don’t want me there.”
It is 2016 and young minority students, and I am sure other underserved students, share the same sentiment. They do not want me there. I asked her why she felt that way and she said I don’t see that many young black girls with confidence in medical school. I suppose I was like a breath of fresh air to her young eyes, but for me, it was an opportunity to inspire her to be better than what society deems she is worth.
During this medical school process, a lot will test you mentally, emotionally and financially. Because it is not about when you get in, it is the story of how, which people are always in shock about. The how I say is the journey, when it happens well that is the blessing, once it is done, another process begins. But her comments echoed one salient point and that is our society reinforces an inferiority complex to minority students, thus it is no surprise that some feel even with the successes they make, medical schools, are not in their cities to cater to their goals, but that their schools are a mirage of academic learning; a place where some get in, but not them.
To the underserved students, who feel a medical school, or any institute of higher learning, does not want them there; your thoughts are not unfounded. Based on the history of racism, segregation, discrimination, which tore down the minority, especially African-American community, this matter is resonating with our millennial children.
I hope I was able to inspire that student to try and reach out, as not all administrators and professors of higher learning, wish to exclude, but I told her you must involve yourself in the discussion. If you want to be a doctor, become known, and work at it. This is no cakewalk, but if you walk this path like me and others keep going.
Because believe it or not, there are a lot of individuals who will help you on this journey, but some that will not hesitate to see you fail. And that is a fact known all too well too many. We must be better than the generation before, so the generation after, can change the narrative to they don’t want me there, to, I will go there.