Who or what has inspired you while at VCOM?
Two of my inspirations while at VCOM are Dr. Sofia Abraham-Hardee, DO, PhD and Dr. Olutayo Sogunro, DO, MS. As exceptional female doctors from underrepresented backgrounds, they have inspired me to look forward to a positive future in medicine. They also both received their medical degrees from VCOM!
Dr. Sogunro is a general surgeon who volunteered her time to help with our Dominican Republic mission trip. During my first real clinical experience, Dr. Sogunro taught me a lot about proper physical exam techniques, how to ask the right questions and how to present patients in a systematic way. She put a lot of things into prospective for me during the mission trip and gave me responsibilities that required me to think like a doctor. Dr. Sogunro instilled a bigger passion for me to learn medicine effectively and challenged me to learn every day. I am forever grateful for her support and endless knowledge she provided and continues to provide me.
Dr. Abraham-Hardee is a pediatrician and the Chair for Pediatrics at VCOM. Even with her busy schedule at VCOM and with a family at home, she still manages to entertain and accommodate students outside of school. Dr. Abraham-Hardee loves what she does and it is evident in her lectures and in her practice. She is very enthusiastic about teaching medicine and all my classmates love listening to her. Her humor has made learning medicine so much more fun! She is extremely easy to talk to and has a very free-spirit attitude that everyone is so attracted to. She is one of the reasons why I am pursuing pediatrics myself!
How has the VCOM mission inspired you as a medical student?
The mission statement that resonates with me the most is, “To serve as an advocate of osteopathic medicine, rural health, mission medicine and affordable, accessible healthcare for the medically underserved.” As an immigrant and first generation college student, I can identify with the daily challenges underserved communities face and I am committed to helping reduce health disparities. Before medical school, I took courses on health disparities and it changed the way I viewed medicine. The inequalities that occur in health and in the access of healthcare really concern me. So, I started volunteering to help people in low-income communities understand the importance of health and many co-motilities that were disproportionately affecting them. VCOM’s mission for rural health and international service is one of the many reason why I choose VCOM. With my background, I feel like I have an obligation to aid these communities. I am committed to a lifelong journey of mentorship and service and I’m happy VCOM is supporting me along the way.
Who or what inspired you to study medicine?
My family is the primary influence in molding my passion in medicine. I am not from a family of doctors or even college-graduates. We are originally from Eritrea, a small country in East Africa where malaria, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and other preventable diseases are extremely prevalent problems. Conversations with my parents instilled a passion for wanting to do more or to somehow help. My parents constantly feel helpless when they hear one of their brothers or sisters are suffering from diseases they know nothing about. Watching that never settled well with me, even at a young age. I was just as curious as my parents were and I’d ask questions about medical problems they didn’t have the answers to. That is what sparked my interest and curiosity in medicine. I’ve always wanted to go to medical school to not only help my family but to also help other underprivileged families going through similar circumstances.
What do you like to do when you are not studying or going to school?
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I also enjoy volunteering, traveling and eating! I’m really big on journeys, happiness and finding passions.
What do you most enjoy about the Blacksburg area?
Blacksburg has the most breathtaking views! Looking outside at the mountains is like watching a movie on a panoramic screen. For the first two years, I was fortunate enough to have a view of the mountains from my bedroom window. And boy, do I miss them! Blacksburg is so peaceful and is full of natural beauty. There are a lot of outdoor activities I could do immediately surrounding Blacksburg, which I absolutely love. Blacksburg is such a gem and it isn’t hard to find fun things to do in such a big college town.