NOVEMBER 1, 2018 - Two Georgetown student organizations hosted a panel discussion for current undergraduate students from minority communities to hear from four recent alumni of Georgetown College and the School of Nursing & Health Studies who are now enrolled in medical school.

The event, held October 18 in St. Mary’s Hall, was co-sponsored by the Minority Health Initiative Council (MHIC) at NHS and the Georgetown University Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (GUMAPS).

“We can’t afford to not have you in the field you want to be in and serving the populations that need your service,” Brian Floyd, MS, an assistant dean who advises MHIC and moderated the discussion, told the students.

Finding Your Passion

The panel included Derek “Ricky” Altema (NHS’15, Howard 2020) and Adaeze Ezefor (NHS’15, Howard 2021), as well as Georgetown medical students Anthony Jourdan (NHS’17, M’22), and Deseree King (C’14, M’22).

The four shared stories about their own journeys to medical school, including challenges they faced and opportunities they sought out along the way, such as shadowing physicians, seeking mentors, and discerning their true career passions. For example, Altema realized he truly wanted to care for patients while working as a health care consultant, and Ezefor and King had similar aha moments while teaching, respectively, with Teach for America and in South Africa.

“If you know that you have a passion for something, don't let anyone discourage you,” King said. While Altema advised, “Take it slow, and stay true to yourself.”

‘Believe in Yourself’

The panelists shared their reflections about the medical school admissions process, from application writing to interview advice. And they stressed the importance of finding a medical school that aligns with one’s interests and values.

To prepare for medical school, Jourdan took part in the rigorous post-baccalaureate GEMS Program, a longstanding Georgetown School of Medicine program “to equip under-represented and disadvantaged students for success in medical education.”

He encouraged students to stay focused on their goals even amid doubt. “Don’t listen to what the people who aren’t behind you have to say,” Jourdan said. “Believe in yourself, believe in your abilities. You’ve made it this far.”    

Floyd echoed that sentiment of encouragement.

“There are multiple ways to be pre-med,” Floyd reminded the students gathered at the event. “These people did it, and you can, too.”

By Nicole Gray (NHS’20)