Yakira Alford


Hometown: Houston, Texas

Name of Undergraduate Institution: Rice University

Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Biology Major

Name of Medical School: McGovern Medical School, UTHealth School of Public Health

Favorite Quote:  “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Contact Info: yakira.alford@yahoo.com

Additional Links:


Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?

I am currently a first-year medical student at McGovern Medical School. I had always wanted to become a physician, but my interest in medicine was particularly piqued in high school after joining a health club.  After witnessing an open-heart surgery at the Texas Heart Institute, I was pretty much set on pursuing medicine, although I did entertain thoughts of becoming an engineer.  My desire to pursue medicine was strengthened through shadowing opportunities with a radiologist and with an OB/GYN. The icing on the cake for me was having the chance to work in the Emergency Department as a scribe, which allowed me to witness how physicians think and interact. I believe that my experience as a scribe has played a huge role in my current interest in Emergency Medicine.

If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell her?

Take college seriously. No, seriously. Sure, college is a time for exploration and for finding yourself, but don’t get so lost in that process that you lose sight of what is especially important for medical school: academic performance. Also, do not allow your pride to keep you from asking for help when you need it. Don’t treat the MCAT like you treated the SAT; study for it very hard, take it seriously, and knock it out….the first time. Finally, when you set your goals, pursue them wholeheartedly and avoid complacency.

Do you have another professional degree? If so, how has it impacted you?

I have a M.S. in Medical Science from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, which I will refer to as “MedSci” from here on out, and I’m currently in a 4-year MD/MPH program. MedSci is a “Special Master’s Program”, which is a 1-year, non-thesis master’s program that serves to enhance your academic record (granted you perform well in it) and to prepare you for medical school. Enrolling in the MedSci program was certainly not in my original plan, but it was highly recommended for my less-than-stellar undergraduate record. That being said, I am extremely happy that I went through the program; for me, it eased the transition into medical school by a ton. There are hardly any similarities between undergrad and medical school, but there was plenty of overlap between MedSci and medical school. I can’t speak as much on the MPH degree, but I decided to pursue it because I wanted a broader perspective on medicine that involve entire communities and demographics, especially in underserved communities. I have found that a lot of what I have learned thus far in my MPH courses is also covered in the medical school curriculum, but the MPH goes a bit more in depth.

What is your favorite thing about your medical school?

This is a tough one because I like so many things about McGovern! I guess I would say that I really, really like the people here. The student body is very laidback; they’re ambitious and determined, but best believe that they know how to have fun as well. Furthermore, the faculty here is extremely supportive.

What do you do to get through the stressful nature of medical school?

I resort to music a lot. As a matter of fact, I have a keyboard that sits right next to my desk so that when it’s time to take a study break, I’ll turn the keyboard on and play. Once my break is over (assuming I’m able to exercise self-discipline), I’ll turn the keyboard off and go right back to studying or streaming lectures. I’ll also watch reality TV shows like Love and Hip Hop; something that doesn’t take much brainpower to understand.  Since I’m going to medical school in my hometown, I go see my parents a lot. Finally, one of the greatest ways that I have gotten through the stressful nature of professional school is by letting loose with my medical school friends. They really know how to have a good time, like, really.

Thank you so much for your sound advice and for sharing a bit about who you are with us Yakira! You are very much appreciated! And please continue doing what you do with Melanin M.D.; your work in that initiative has positively and tremendously influenced the lives of so many people! Keep on prospering!

Health Career Spotlights Home Page

Posted on April 24th, 2017

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