Story of Tamika Auguste M.D.

Tamika Auguste M.D.

I am a first-generation American. Both my parents are from Trinidad. I was born in Brooklyn, NY and my family eventually moved down to Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  I am diverse in my ethnicities being Indian, African, and Chinese. My parents did everything for my brother and I, but we had very humble beginnings. Both of my parents had “some” college experience but never finished college. Both my parents worked until my father lost his job and my mother had to work two jobs. That was the way it was for most of my teenage years. That is just the way it was. Through all the economic hardships my family had there was one constant theme coming from my parents…education. I grew up thinking that college was automatic after high school. I did not know it was a “choice”. Honestly, it wasn’t until my sophomore in high school when one of my friends said she wasn’t sure if she was going to college did I know college was optional. I had no idea! That was just the way it was in my family. It was also impressed upon me that I would have to get an academic scholarship to help pay for college. My parents took out a lot of loans to send me to college. It was ok; they knew I would be able to pay it off.  There was no lack of work ethic in my family. If we could work, and work hard, it would all be ok.

I was that child who always wanted to be a doctor. My earliest memory of wanting to be a physician was at age 5. I remember pretending to listen to my friends’ hearts. I cannot remember wanting to be anything else. Again, that is just the way it was and my parents expected nothing else. I was always a good student; usually one of the best in class, going into medicine seemed automatic. Seemed like it was something that I can and should do. I honestly sailed through high school with minimal effort. Though, I received my first C and thought my career was over. I got through it but it was the first sign that perhaps this path to medicine was not going to be smooth sailing. In college I was premed and taking ridiculously hard biology classes.  Struggled to do better than good but nowhere near excellent. My desire to become a physician seemed stronger than ever but the path seemed less clear. Tough times came in organic chemistry. I had earned a D by the end of the semester and I was devastated. I went to the professor and pleaded my case for extra credit, or another solution. It was a last ditch effort. I don’t know why or how he took pity on me but he said he would give me an “Incomplete” and gave me the chance to audit or sit in on his class next semester and retake the exams and if I did better, that grade would stand. In my eyes, this was it! I unofficially sat in on that class, worked harder than I ever had (until GEMS year) and earned a “B”. That “B” was what was ended up on my transcript. For me, it was a turning point, a wake up. I realized that to that point I really wasn’t working to my full capacity. Why? I don’t know, but I couldn’t always be the student with her back up against the wall. My MCAT scores were horrible. It was looking really bad. Through all of this, there was one thought that I couldn’t stop thinking of. I couldn’t let my parents down. That just wasn’t an option. It was time to look at other options to assist with entrance into medical school. Looking at post-baccalaureate programs, I found the GEMS program and the rest is life-changing.

When I got that acceptance letter to medical school, I cried. My parents were over joyed.  I think my father cried. I had just completed the GEMS program and to that point, it had been the most difficult year of my life. I had gotten through it, felt like a different student and person, and I honestly felt confident enough to think, “This is it, I’m going to do it. I’m going to be a doctor.” That confidence came from the GEMS program and the transformation I had just gone through. As a GUSOM student, I met wonderful students and colleagues, I have met teachers/educators that were literally amazing and people that I have chosen to emulate. As a Georgetown student, I felt part of a family. It wasn’t always coming up roses though; I did have some personal struggles in medical school. My father developed a long-term illness while I was in medical school. Diagnosed my first month of medical school and he died three months prior to my graduation.  The students, teachers/educators, faculty, ancillary staff, and dean got me through it all. The kindness that was shown to my family and me was such a gift. Cura Personalis personified.  This and the development of personal relationships are perhaps is the most important lessons I learned while I was a Georgetown student.  I try to use these lessons on a daily basis. We often talk about these lessons, but through my personal experiences I saw it, I felt it, and I was a recipient of it. I see what it did for me, and I want to make that difference in my patient’s lives if I can. I strive to make a difference every day. I really believe that we all should. If not, then what are we doing? Georgetown changed my life. When I walk into the lobby of the Med-Dent Building I exhale deeply and smile every so slightly because I know that everything is going to be ok. It always is here.