What is your current title and role?
I am currently a first-year medical student at the California University of Science and Medicine.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in San Diego, CA, but after my parents divorced when I was about 4 years old, we moved to Compton. That’s where I grew up until I left for college.
Tell us about your professional (medical, nursing, allied health, etc.) school?
I attend California University of Science and Medicine (CUSM) which is a newly accredited medical school located in the Inland Empire (IE) to address healthcare disparities in the IE and to train doctors who not only care about the disease and the treatment of diseases, but who also care about the patient– their stories, their many barriers to adequate care and resources, and to empathize with pleas for help in all aspects of their lives.
Tell us about struggles and challenges in achieving your goal and how you overcame?
I am the youngest of 5 brothers. My mom is a single mother who struggled to pull us all through primary school while keeping us away from bad influences like gangs in Compton as well as keeping us fed, happy, and protected daily. I was forced at a young age, because my mom had so much to take care of on her plate, to grow up sort of fast and this created a sense of independence and determination in me that propelled me to achieve my goals. Of course, the support I received from my mother and other mentors like pastors in my church and teachers at my high school helped me reach my full potential and is the reason I overcame the environment that surrounded me daily in Compton. In a place where less than 1/3 of the population attends college and only a little more than half of the population obtains a high school diploma, my support system helped me to overcome the challenges of such an underprivileged community full of disparities and now I look to help students like me do the same.
Please share with us about your family and your support group?
My mom, my brothers, my church, and my friends are my support group. Daily they encourage me and keep me focused on finishing this race called life when times get tough.
Please share a memorable experience from your training that has stayed with you till today.
One memorable experience from my training was when I shadowed a doctor in Lynwood and an elderly African American woman shared with me that seeing a young black male looking to succeed in medicine already made her feel better because she doesn’t see that too often. It reminded me that this journey that I am on is not just for me, but for the community that surrounds me as well.
Please share a memorable teaching moment.
One memorable teaching moment has been applying to medical school. At first, I was only going to apply to DO schools because I thought I wouldn’t get into an MD but turns out I got into multiple MD schools! It taught me to never count myself out for anything and to always let God have the final say.
Please share a highlight from your practice/current role.
One highlight has been representing my culture and community in a profession that sees so few black males let alone from cities like Compton make it. It gives me a sense of pride while also reminding me of my responsibility.
What do you like and dislike the most about working in healthcare?
I like the fact that being a healthcare worker puts you in a position of leadership that can lead to you influencing a person’s life in the right direction. I dislike that healthcare workers mental health is not being considered however and that they are overworked causing them to have high rates of burnout, suicide, and depression.
What are three things that you are grateful for?
1. God’s grace. 2. Family and Friends. 3. Sleep
What excites you outside medicine?
Sports like football and arts like poetry, rap, and spoken word excite me. As well as the bible and helping others find Christ.
What advice do you have for students interested in healthcare?
Don’t listen to the internet or all of the rumors out there that say becoming a healthcare professional is too much work, overbearing, or not worth it. There’s no other profession on earth that can impact lives more. Other than maybe a pastor, but you know thats not for everybody. Point is, medicine is worth it!
What do you think the student of today needs to be successful in matriculating and graduating from professional school (medicine, nursing, allied health, pharmacy)?
The student today needs to be strong minded. Many people will tell you you can’t, that it’s becoming harder and harder every year to matriculate and that the odds are stacked against you. Remember you can choose the cards that you are dealt, but you can choose how you play your hand, so don’t let the circumstances scare you.
How would you advise or guide students to develop leadership skills, community outreach experience, research opportunities and clinical shadowing?
Reach out! It’s like the old saying closed mouths don’t get fed. Find leaders and mentors within the community and those who are around you and gather all the little nuggets of wisdom that you can from them. It will help you a lot and they will provide networks that are key to your success.
How can we support and guide students to achieve good grades and be successful in standardized exams?
Teach students how to master the art of taking exams. A lot of standardized exams aren’t about how much you know, but rather how good you are at taking a test. Learning some test-taking strategies will definitely help students. Also creating resources like student learning groups for students to learn from their peers can also help them to learn how to collaborate with others in order to learn better and do better in classes as well.