Randy Amibang from Student National Medical Association

The next spotlight in the #HumansofGUSOM series is on the president of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), Randy Amibang. 

Randy was born in America and grew up in Cameroon during the mid-’90s, around the time the HIV/AIDS epidemic was hitting Sub-Saharan Africa. “My aunt actually contracted the virus, which unfortunately progressed to AIDS quite early on and she passed away. Just seeing how the disease took a toll on her and seeing the energy sucked from someone who was once so lively… it was very different because it was my first true run-in with death.” Experiencing this loss and seeing the way the healthcare system had handled the epidemic is what sparked Randy’s interest in medicine. “Healthcare back home is very different than healthcare here, so when you hear that people with HIV/ AIDS can live for a long time… back then it wasn’t really true for many parts of the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, so that’s how I actually first became interested in medicine.”

After her undergraduate studies, Randy decided that she wanted to take some time before applying to medical school. Taking these gap years and traveling ended up being some of the happiest moments of Randy’s life. She went to many different countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nigeria, Malaysia, and Italy. “I think just being able to learn about people in that intercultural way and just being able to interact with them and learning why they love certain things, why certain habits are kind of frowned upon…. that really made me happy. I really love learning about other cultures because I think that’s important in any kind of interaction you have in life…especially if you’re going to be treating patients of different walks of life.” 

Randy joined SNMA at the beginning of her freshman year and actually became the president that same day. “I joined SNMA because it was so inclusive and I felt like I needed to have a voice on campus, and I thought my voice would best be heard through SNMA. I also wanted a more intimate community and so SNMA gave me that outlet.” Through SNMA’s programming and events, Randy hopes that people feel leaving empowered. “We just always want to make an impact. If one person can take away something positive from the event it’s great.” Above all, Randy wanted to stress how open and inclusive SNMA is. “SNMA is an organization for everyone and it’s not only for black students or people of color.” 

Medical school and extracurriculars can be overwhelming, and Randy advises incoming medical students to make sure to take some time for themselves. “You need to be realistic with what you can do and also what you can put your body through.” When asked how to balance work and wellness, Randy recommended making time for personal interests and hobbies. “Make sure you’re also making time for your hobbies and passions because those things actually do help your mental health and help you overcome struggles in medical school.”