What does inspiration mean to you and how would you use your platform in your future career to inspire others?
I always knew I wanted to become a doctor. I had the special dress-up doctor kit and I even wrote my second-grade biography on Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor. However, I first gained true exposure to the STEM and medical fields when I was nine while attending an event at a local university aimed at teaching young girls about STEM. Each girl was assigned to a group led by a college student. My group leader was a sophomore majoring in biology on a premed track. That day, she explained what she was learning in her classes and why she wanted to become a doctor. Her stories revealed her absolute fascination with biological sciences and her inspiration behind studying to become a doctor. Eight years later, I still remember the passion she displayed for medicine and her determination to become a doctor. Through hearing her experiences, I, in turn, found my passion and love for science. She further solidified my desire to pursue a career in medicine simply by sharing her story and acting as a mentor. To me, to be an inspiration means to share your story and allow others to gain insight into your journey. Sharing your story not only empowers others but can also open a door of possibilities, as it did for me that day.
Being a mentor and support system is the biggest form of inspiration; having a mentor in your desired field is one of the most crucial steps in pursuing your dreams. Of the 14% of women who pursue orthopedic surgery, only 4.1% are African American. Despite this small percentage, I was fortunate enough to still benefit from opportunities that gave me insight and exposure to this field. However, not all young girls have these same opportunities, therefore discouraging them from pursuing orthopedic surgery or other STEM fields. This can have detrimental effects on the community because as STEM and medical fields lose capable and intelligent young women due to a lack of guidance, the community is also losing opportunities to develop diverse representation in these fields. As an orthopedic surgeon, I would use my platform to inspire other girls the same way the college student did when I was nine years old. Acting as a mentor and sharing my story on my pathway to becoming an orthopedic surgeon will provide young girls with not only guidance in their life choices but also emotional and motivational support. Simply by sharing my story, leading by example, and acting as a confidant, I hope that I can empower other young girls to follow their own path and to find that same feeling of inspiration and passion I felt eight years ago.
What are you currently doing to inspire those around you?
During a normal school year, being a teen is tough with school, friends, sports, and all the other different directions we get pulled in. But being a teen during a global pandemic with school online and seemingly alone with limited in-person social interactions is even more confusing and overwhelming. While I have developed a knack for staying focused, I have noticed many of my peers needing support with not only staying focused but also navigating the world around us. In May 2020, as I reflected on all I had lost and wouldn’t experience, I decided I needed to stop wallowing in self-pity and do something productive. As I scribbled my ideas on paper, I knew I wanted to help other teenagers who lost their school season like me. The idea that stuck with me was a podcast; designed to be the Lighthouse in the middle of the storm – a type of support system for teens all around the country so they didn’t feel all alone and powerless.
With inspiration from Sean Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, my advice podcast, TEEN TALK, was born. Its sole mission: to help others who may be struggling with finding balance. Each bimonthly episode is dedicated to a different topic important for youth in the modern world. With the help of other teen guests, I advise listeners on how to deal with today’s problems as well as discuss the importance of teen success. By tackling topics such as productive procrastination, mental health, taking initiative, and leadership, listeners are inspired to succeed by the stories of other teens.
With little female representation in the STEM and medicine fields, I find it crucial for girls to hear the stories of others in order to show them the beauty behind STEM. My recent season was aimed towards inspiring girls interested in pursuing the medical field or other STEM fields by highlighting high school students’ experiences in their pursuit of STEM. In the end, not only does each episode help teens learn from others on how to manage and find balance in their lives, but it ultimately is a support system that encourages my listeners in their own endeavors whether that be academic, athletic, or social and inspires and strengthens their determination.
What you would do with the scholarship award if you were to receive it?
As a senior, my college application process has begun. During my college experience, I hope to gain the ability to have opportunities to connect with my community as well as cultivate my knowledge in order to be successful in my future field. If I were to receive the Desire to Inspires scholarship award, I would set aside this money in order to fund my higher education endeavors, an important stepping stone to accomplishing my goals in the medical field.