My name is Griselda Potka and my family and I immigrated to the United States from Albania when I was eight years old. I lived in Hartford, Connecticut for the majority of my life and attended Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Prior to beginning the GEMSprogram, I was living in Boston and worked as a research coordinator at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Growing up in a rural village illustrated the negative impact that lack of medical care has on health and educational outcomes. This motivated me to become a family medicine doctor and empower communities through health education. As the first person in my family to graduate high school and attend college, my educational journey has been arduous. When I stumbled with courses, I had no parental guidance and it took longer for me to recuperate. In addition, while in school, I helped my father run his house painting business and went home often to translate for my parents. These added responsibilities certainly impaired my academics and in part contributed to my difficulties in obtaining a medical school acceptance. However, I refused to succumb to despair and give up on becoming a doctor because I knew that I was capable and driven, I just needed an opportunity to prove myself.
Receiving my GEMS acceptance letter was life altering. It meant that I had a second chance to realize a dream that I had been working towards for many years. While in GEMS I have learned to stop second guessing myself whether it’s on an exam or while presenting information during the infamous facilitated sessions with Dean Taylor. One piece of wisdom: you can overcome a lot more adversity than you think is possible.