Snapshots showcase the diversity of backgrounds and experiences of Perelman Med students. If you would like to nominate a Perelman student to be featured, please submit a nomination here. If you are a Perelman student and have a story that you'd like to share, please fill out this form!
More about Moses Murdock
Where did you grow up? Boston & Orlando
Where did you go to college? University of Central Florida
What is your favorite song, movie or book? The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
To have fun or relax, I enjoy... Reading, running, dancing and discovering new vegetarian restaurants in Philly
Why did you choose to attend medical school? And why did you choose Perelman? For me, medicine is the nexus of all the things that I love to do: the study of human biology and physiology, the opportunity to partner with and teach others about science, being a source of comfort for others in difficult moments, the ability to serve as a mentor and teacher, and joining a community of people who are putting their hearts and souls into improving society through research, policy, public health, and other forms of advocacy. When I was applying to medical school, I was looking for an environment that mirrored my college experience, namely an organization that would have my back and not only serve as a place for me to accrue knowledge, but also form a family and home away from home. Penn isn’t the only medical school with great hospitals, cutting-edge research, and shiny new buildings. What was unique was the feeling that from the administrators on down, people were excited to have me here and that they were committed to advocating for me as I grew personally and professionally.
Any activities you are involved in, or have been involved in while at PSOM: SNMA (Penn chapter and regional board), DISAC, MOSAIC, Johnson Scholars, HHBC, American Society of Hematology
If I wasn’t a medical student, I would be...Working for an education-focused nonprofit organization
"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’ve always had trouble fitting neatly into demographic boxes. I’m mixed, with my father being of Jamaican descent and my mother of Spanish descent. My childhood was this wonderful kaleidoscope of gallo pinto, rice and peas, ackee, trips to Central America and admiring the rich Jamaican accent of my grandmother. In ways explicit and implicit, the world has often asked me to choose: are you Black or are you Latino? Whether this question was posed by analyzing my friend group in high school, or whether it was an administrator during the medical school interview trail commenting on my choice of affiliating with SNMA or LMSA, I’ve struggled with being “half” of something. I’ve asked myself: what does it mean to be Black? What does it mean to be Latino? Ultimately, while I am delighted that my ancestry comes from several branches of the human family tree, I also see myself as whole, an Afro-Latino individual. I am so proud of my parents for seeing beyond their demographic differences and building a strong, functional marriage and family. I am in awe of their courage in leaving their home country and starting anew in the United States. I’m excited to continue to work on making sure the physician workforce is as diverse as possible, not only because it is the moral thing to do, not only because it will benefit all patients, but because I’ve seen how in the microcosm of my own life, having a diverse background and set of experiences has enriched my experiences and life story.
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 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