Snapshots showcase the diversity of backgrounds and experiences of Perelman Med students.
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More about Richard Maduka
Where did you grow up? Prince George's County, Maryland
Where did you go to college? The University of Maryland, Baltimore County
What is your favorite song, movie or book? Current favorite song - XXX. by Kendrick Lamar feat U2
To have fun or relax, I enjoy... Playing basketball with friends, watching movies and pretending I am some kind of film critic, and cooking Blue Apron meals with my significant other.
Why did you choose to attend medical school? And why did you choose Perelman? I genuinely believe that most people decide to pursue a career in medicine because they are called to become healers and help people, especially in times when they are the most vulnerable. And I am no different. I choose Perelman because I felt that I would not only get a elite education (with perhaps an overwhelming number of options for extracurriculars) but also I would be surrounded by driven individuals from diverse backgrounds, that I am now proud to call my colleagues.
Any activities you are involved in, or have been involved in while at PSOM: I did a good number of extracurricular activities during my time in medical school, but the most recent was co-coordinating the "Stop the Bleed" Program - a campaign hosted by the Agnew Surgical Society at Penn to talk to high school youth about firearm violence and teach proper first response techniques from wound packing with gauze to tourniquet use.
If I wasn’t a medical student, I would be... Heading to culinary school so that I could be a contestant on Chopped!
"All of us tell stories about ourselves...To know someone well is to know her story—the experiences that have shaped her, the trials and turning points that have tested her. our families, our school years, our first loves, the development of our political views, and so on." What is your story? I have recently graduated and will be attending Yale University Surgical Residency program this summer. My journey through medical school has encouraged my passion for community outreach. I was raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland, a resource poor and predominately Black community outside of Washington DC. There, I grew accustomed to bomb threats at the middle school, and I learned to expect the irony of a fast food restaurant adjacent to a dialysis center.
Today, my personal experiences allow me to bridge the gap between my two worlds: underserved communities of color and the medical profession. I love forming that connection. As the community outreach chair of the Agnew Surgical Society, I have spoken with West Philadelphia residents - who remind me of my neighbors in Maryland - about the importance of colorectal carcinoma screening. Additionally, I organized the Agnew Surgical Clinic, which provides underserved patients with access to appropriate surgical care. Through this work, I have learned the importance of partnering with patients to build trust in the medical system.
As I continue to cultivate my interests in surgery, research, and outreach, I believe these interests and skills will make me a better provider as I continue through my medical training and career. Though I do not know exactly what the future will bring, I aspire to lessen disparities in access to medical care, and improve the health and well-being of all of my patients.
More about Alex Miller
Where did you grow up? Boston
Where did you go to college? Harvard
What is your favorite song, movie or book? Favorite book: A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
To have fun or relax, I enjoy... I sing with an a cappella group, and I enjoy long bike rides -- this summer, I rode from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. I enjoy reading and various craft projects, including quilting and knitting.
Why did you choose to attend medical school? And why did you choose Perelman? I was a middle school English teacher for six years before I decided to apply to medical school. I loved teaching, but I realized that what I really wanted to be doing was taking care of kids, and that as a physician, I would be better positioned to get involved in some of the advocacy work I was interested in. I loved the diversity of interests and backgrounds of students at Perelman. It seemed like everyone I met was truly passionate about something outside of medicine.
Any activities you are involved in, or have been involved in while at PSOM? Covenant House coordinator, Doctoring IA course assistant, SNMA academic co-chair, blood drive committee
If I wasn’t a medical student, I would be… A reporter for This American Life.
"All of us tell stories about ourselves...To know someone well is to know her story—the experiences that have shaped her, the trials and turning points that have tested her, our families, our school years, our first loves, the development of our political views, and so on." What is your "story"? I have always loved stories. When I was a child, I was so captivated by books that I would want to become the characters. One book about trains so captured my imagination that, for months, I insisted that everyone call me Engine -- and if you asked me to go for a walk, I would say, "I don't walk. I chug." Stories allowed me to travel the world from my bedroom, to find commonality with people whose experiences were very different than mine.
My family taught me very early the value of finding common ground. Growing up mixed race (my mom is black and my dad is white) has given me a unique perspective that I feel grateful for. My parents share so many fundamental values, and their relationship taught me early on that their commonalities are more important than their differences.
Stories are a powerful mechanism for empathy, and empathy is fundamental to the practice of medicine. Talking to patients, and learning their stories, is an incredible privilege, and it is what I love the most about medicine.
More about Daniel Akuma
Where did you grow up? Abakaliki, Nigeria
Where did you go to college? Kenyon College
What is your favorite song, movie or book? Favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption (filmed less than an hour from my undergrad)
To have fun or relax, I enjoy... Keeping up with NCAA soccer, swimming and volleyball
Why did you choose to attend medical school? And why did you choose Perelman? Medical school has always been in the picture because I wanted in on the magic wand physicians always seemed to wield. Today, I want to be more of a physician scientist (MD/PhD) than a pure clinician because the bench top won me over during my gap years! Penn Preview weekend made Perelman an easy choice. Also, Penn's MSTP is large enough to not leave one feeling alone, yet close-knit enough for this small liberal arts college grad!
Any activities you are involved in, or have been involved in while at PSOM? SNMA, African Health Interest Group, global health, diversity recruitment
If I wasn’t a medical student, I would be...an NCAA Division 3 columnist/color commentator
"All of us tell stories about ourselves...To know someone well is to know her story—the experiences that have shaped her, the trials and turning points that have tested her, our families, our school years, our first loves, the development of our political views, and so on." What is your "story"? I was born and raised in Nigeria, a country rich with over 500 ethnic groups and languages. At age 11, I was just the regular kid in Abakaliki, Eastern Nigeria. I got up at dawn to trek – or rather skip – the three miles to school with my siblings. My parents grew up in the ravaging Biafra War era and had overcome several obstacles to provide me and my siblings with basic education. So naturally they were amused whenever I would announce my dream of someday studying in ‘Obodo Oyibo’ – what we used to call the United States. My journey to realizing that dream was as surprising as it was humbling to me. From my fifth-grade teacher, Uncle Nwakile, to my EducationUSA advisor, Aunty Shade, many people bent over backwards so I could stand. Fast-forward a few years, I will not forget the pride of my parents as they watched me accept my college diploma in Obodo Oyibo. All their sacrifices had not been in vain. While I can never fully repay them, I am glad for the opportunity to ease the disease burden at home through this career in medicine.
More about Amanda Labora
Where did you grow up? Miami, FL
Where did you go to college? Brown University
What is your favorite song, movie or book? In the spirit of rebellion, my favorite TV show is Jane the Virgin!
To have fun or relax, I enjoy… Going for a bike ride out to Manayunk and beyond.
Why did you choose to attend medical school? And why did you choose Perelman? I became interested in medicine while working as a medical scribe in the ER during a semester off from college. I was inspired by the relationships that physicians are able to form with their patients even over a brief period of time. I saw that physicians have the privilege to enter patient’s lives during very vulnerable times and aid people in making decisions that affect their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
I chose to attend Penn because I wanted to train at a school that places as much emphasis on producing humanistic doctors as it does knowledgeable ones. Furthermore, I felt that Penn had the resources and support to help me grow as a physician, researcher, and person.
Any activities you are involved in, or have been involved in while at PSOM? Latino Medical Student Association, Students Opposing Racism in Medicine, Advisory Council of the Office of Inclusion and Diversity
If I wasn’t a medical student, I would be… An anthropologist or a foreign correspondent
"All of us tell stories about ourselves...To know someone well is to know her story—the experiences that have shaped her, the trials and turning points that have tested her. our families, our school years, our first loves, the development of our political views, and so on." What is your "story"? When asked where I am from, I have difficulty answering. “Miami” inadequately expresses the Pan-American identity I formed growing up in South Florida. Although I am Mexican-American, I was exposed to the cultures of many different Latin American and Caribbean countries growing up. In my hometown, Spanish is the lingua franca and Haitian Creole and Brazilian Portuguese are widely spoken—English less so. I grew up speaking Spanish at home and attended a public bilingual school where most of my friends were immigrants. My parents still live in the house I grew up in near the Miami River in Little Havana, named for the large Cuban population that lives there.
I studied History at Brown and ended up taking a winding and unexpected path to medical school that included stints in Egypt, Syria, Brazil, and Mexico. Since coming to Penn, I have developed an interest in health equity and the ways in which racism affects medical education and the health of patients. I am so grateful that I ended up at Penn, not only for the academic aspect of my education, but also for the incredible mentors I have found and the wonderful relationships I have formed. I'm excited to see what the next phase of medical training has in store for me!
More about Krystal Hill
Program of Study: MD
Interests (research and/or clinical): Community Service, SNMA, diversity recruitment and pipelines, and wellness
To have fun or relax, I enjoy… Spending time with friends and family, reading, playing sports (I’m on the Penn Med flag football team!)
On what makes Krystal, Krystal:
"Whether we are organizing a lunch talk, strategizing how to improve minority recruitment at Penn or thinking of ways to expand SNMA's barbershop hypertension screening initiatives in West Philly, Krystal often finishes our planning sessions with a riotous exclamation of 'Teamwork makes the dream work!' But really, the teamwork only works because she has such zeal for our community, and has poured her soul into makings sure every URM feels welcomed and at home at Penn. Her intelligence and thoughtfulness are inspiring, her laugh is infectious, and our Penn community just wouldn't be the same without Krystal on our team." -H. Moses Murdock, MS2
More about Anthony Martin
Program of Study:
- Orthopaedic Surgery
- Emergency Medicine
- Medical devices
I was born and raised in Miami, Florida with a Cuban family. My parents left the island as children during the Revolution and started a new life in the US. One of my biggest driving factors as a student has been to make my family proud by showing them how their hard work as recent immigrants has led to the success of their children.
More about Chase Richard
Program of Study:
- Pursing MD and MBA
- Yelling at the TV when sports are on
I look through glasses tinted by my African American heritage, Bay Area upbringing, and parents that emphasized the value of faith, service, and education. The people that I’ve met and the sights, sounds, and events that I’ve witnessed have helped shape my worldview. The wellspring of innovation, solutions and progress is diversity. When the lenses of a diverse community of people overlap, we see a much clearer picture of how to best address the challenging issues in health care of access, quality and affordability.
More about Rosaline Zhang
Program of Study:
- Global health
- Medical education
- Listening to podcasts
- Finding the best vegetarian food in Philly
I was an urban studies major at Penn for undergrad, and so was excited to be continuing my education in the city and university that I love! I am incredibly thankful for PDI's commitment to collaborating with students and to supporting student initiatives, including inviting students to being course assistants and launching a student blog. Penn Med has provided a wonderful environment to explore new interests and work with amazing faculty, administrators and peers.
Alejandra Guevara Méndez
More about Alejandra Guevara Méndez
Program of Study:
- University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras Campus, B.S. in Cellular- Molecular Biology
Clinical and Research Interests:
- Skin Innate Immunity
- Community Health- Puentes de Salud and University City Hospitality Coalition (UCHC)
- Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA)
More about Alexandra Herndon
Where did you grow up? Seattle, WA
Where did you go to college? University of Washington
What is your favorite song, movie or book? My favorite book is The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
To have fun or relax, I enjoy... A good beer with a good book
Why did you choose to attend medical school? And why did you choose Perelman? I chose to attend medical school because it was the perfect combination of science, compassion, and the idea that I could contribute to society meaningfully. I tried other careers first because I got nervous about committing to medicine straight out of undergrad, but nothing else stuck. When I interviewed at Penn I noticed two things: everyone seemed genuinely happy and Gaye's magical ability to reel you in, so I let her.
Any activities you are involved in, or have been involved in while at PSOM? Student National Medical Association, Medical Student for Choice, Planned Parenthood volunteer, Gold Humanism Honor Society, Med Ed Club and the Med Ed Certification Program
If I wasn’t a medical student, I would be...On Broadway
"All of us tell stories about ourselves...To know someone well is to know her story—the experiences that have shaped her, the trials and turning points that have tested her, our families, our school years, our first loves, the development of our political views, and so on." What is your "story"? I like to equate my life story to that of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson - coming from humble beginnings and continually improving with age, but on a much smaller, less grand, more reasonable scale and rather grasping onto my late twenties as I realize youth is fleeting and I'd be lucky to age as flawlessly as he has.
In all seriousness, I grew up just outside of Seattle and graduated from a school where teen pregnancy and secondary school education stopping at high school graduation were considered the norm. I was lucky to have parents who never insinuated that would be the norm for me, but rather preached college and planted the seed for continual self-improvement, and as a result I ultimately ended up here at Penn. I won't bore you with the details in between other than to say I refused to let college be the best years of my life despite living like they were, and I developed a newfound appreciation for teachers across America having been encouraged by them, but also having been put in their shoes for two of the toughest years I've lived thus far.
I'll end with saying the greatest goal I've set for myself has been to simply be happy, and I couldn't have been more happy having made the life choices that landed me here - soon to be working a dream job and surrounded by awesome, supportive friends and family - and which will propel me forward in life to come.