Road to 100: Family Support, Family Environment Sets Morehouse School of Medicine Students Up for Success
When 100 new Doctor of Medicine candidates first stepped foot on to the campus of Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) this year, it marked a major milestone, not just for the students but for the school itself. MSM’s Road to 100 inaugural Class of 2021 marks significant growth for the medical school. A school whose mission includes training doctors to serve those who are traditionally underserved and to help shrink Georgia’s doctor shortage.
Many of the students who come to MSM come from within the state of Georgia. In fact, 63 percent of the Class of 2021 call Georgia home. Students like Victor Bowden. The aspiring doctor is a native of Stone Mountain, graduated from Chamblee High School and received his degree from Georgia State University in 2016.
Bowden’s interest in a medical career was ignited while taking an anatomy class in high school. Being a former college basketball player, he had a great interest in how the body worked and wanted to know more, and also do more. “I knew I always wanted to help people and I knew I loved the body,” said Bowden. “That’s kind of where it met together. In medicine.”
Family and friends played a role in his decision to come to MSM. Several of his college classmates chose MSM as well, and his mother ingrained in him the importance of giving back to those in need the most. When he needed help paying for applications for medical school, his circle eagerly chipped in to help him achieve his dream. The same family-like support and environment at MSM was one of the biggest things that stood out to Bowden in deciding to enroll at the school.
Another factor in Bowden's decision was that he could learn from and alongside people who looked like him. He was fortunate to be surrounded by a number role models with whom he could identify as a child. “In my community, I did see a lot of black male physicians, even in my neighborhood. I was in contact with them early. I guess that helped me be able to visualize myself as a physician,” said Bowden. “As I started to learn more about it and I realized how few black males were in the field, it added that extra drive for me to break that mold and become a part something where there aren’t that many of us in that area, and possibly inspire other kids the same way I was inspired by seeing other people who look like me.”
Oreoluwa Adekunle’s family also played a factor in her decision to become a doctor and ultimately attend Morehouse School of Medicine. Born in Georgia, Adekunle’s parents immigrated to the United States from Nigeria. “My grandmother helped me realize the disparity in healthcare,” explained Adekunle. “Just because healthcare is so different here than it is there [in Nigeria]. And as she’s getting older, my family wants her to stay here just in case something happens. She won’t have access to great healthcare if she’s over there versus if she’s here. And wondering how that figures into some people’s decision-making. How they can’t really go where they want to because they might not have access to proper healthcare."
Adekunle first thought about a career in medicine as a high school student in Rockdale County. But it was a summer abroad trip to Portugal during her junior year at Agnes Scott College and volunteer work with refugee children at Global Village in Decatur that solidified her decision.
The future anesthesiologist or pediatrician hopes she can continue to do good and work towards creating health equity during her studies at MSM, as well as after she receives her hood and degree. “I want to be a positive impact on the community,” said Adekunle.
Jasper Tseng plans to follow in the footsteps of his grandparents. His grandfather was a surgeon and his grandmother worked as a pediatrician in China. Tseng’s parents immigrated to the United States, where Tseng son was born. He attended Gwinnett County schools before going on to college in North Carolina. His grandparents’ model inspired him to pursue medicine, but working at Gwinnett Medical Center for a year after college reignited his love for the field.
Tseng also had a few friends who came to MSM, introducing him to the school before he applied. “When I went for the interview, they really emphasized a family environment and everyone helping each other rather than it being competitive, and that really influenced my decision,” said Tseng. “Med school is something that is pretty tough. A good support system will help you through it. Knowing that people are excited for you and want you to succeed is important.”
The family-like environment is what sets MSM apart from other medical schools, and it greatly benefits future medical professionals trained at the school.
“We take great pride in our family-oriented culture,” said MSM President and Dean
Valerie Montgomery Rice, M.D. “We support an open-door policy, and our two-to-one student/teacher ratio allows
all students an opportunity to develop great relationships with their professors.
While they are students here on campus, we will ensure they have the support and resources
they need so that they might succeed.”