"At times it was hard to believe them, and quite easy (rather) to embrace the idea of an image of success that did not look like me, or share similar social experiences. However, I continued to follow my parent’s mold of persistence."
-Emi Nwabueze, Medical Student
My name is Emi Nwabueze, and I am a current 2nd year medical student. I am a native of Maryland with proud Nigerian roots. I have 3 siblings; 2 younger sisters, who seem to look up to me, and an older brother who’s shoes as a 4th year medical student I hope to one day fill. As I look back on the journey that brought me to where I am today, I can only show appreciation for the adversity that I encountered, the lessons learned, and ultimately, the triumphs gained.
I can remember when I first made plans to pursue a career in medicine. At the time, I was a high school sophomore; notably I was 1 of about 20 African American students in my class of about 400. My parents (as immigrants to the United States from Nigeria), had always instilled in me the foresight to not let diversity (or the lack thereof) hinder my ambitions in life. At times it was hard to believe them, and quite easy (rather) to embrace the idea of an image of success that did not look like me, or share similar social experiences. However, I continued to follow my parent’s mold of persistence. Even as adversity continued to rear it’s head during my collegiate years at Penn State, I pushed through the academic and social barriers that arose, and embraced the opportunities that came to lead me towards my goal. Upon graduating in 2011, I could gather from my research endeavors (in Cardiovascular Psychophysiology), and from my experience in the Primary Care Scholars Program at Penn State’s College of Medicine, the tools which furnished my autonomy, creativity, and the desire to serve others, that I have today.
By virtue of my educational experiences alone, I have the utmost appreciation for diversity. As humans we share a common human experience, but it is our personal journey that ultimately makes those experiences unique. For the past 3 years I have been able to fully appreciate that uniqueness: first as a post baccalaureate student in Georgetown’s GEMS program, and now as an African American female in the School of Medicine. Although, my demographic has always made me a minority in academia, I believe that I am increasingly gaining the tools that will enable me to change the circumstances for those who will come behind me. In the near future I will be writing prescriptions, giving medical advice, consoling loved ones, and hopefully inspiring many patients along the way. My goal, however, is to also equip a generation of students who desire to serve their community in a similar fashion. There is great potential in the diversity of mindsets, and sociocultural experiences that could be brought into the field of medicine - I find that now, more than ever, I can inspire those who not only look like me, but who can share this understanding, and belief that there is a place and opportunities for them to do the same.