Where were you born?
What school did you attend?
Brown University for college, medical school (MD), and a Master of Public Health (MPH) program.
What gained your interest in the NIH?
I knew that I wanted to do a research year between medical school and residency training. An advisor at my medical school recommended the Medical Research Scholars Program, a one year research fellowship for medical students, on the NIH campus. I found out that a classmate of mine at Brown Medical School and a friend of mine from Yale Medical School had done the program in the past and both really enjoyed it. When I researched the program, it seemed like a great fit for me.
What kind of work do you do at the NIH?
I do clinical ophthalmology (eye medicine) research at the National Eye Institute (NEI). The purpose of my project is to investigate whether consuming large amounts of calcium puts people at higher risk for macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes loss of vision. We analyzed data from over 4000 patients to see if there was an association between calcium intake and the development of macular degeneration in these individuals. I am currently writing up a paper that summarizes our findings, and will be submitting it to a scientific journal. It is a wonderful opportunity to work with the team here at the NIH. Since this is such a respected and powerful institution, our research findings have the potential to have a huge impact on the medical field.
What message would you like to send to young Blacks who are considering going to college?
There are few things more important than going to college. In today's world, having a college degree opens up countless doors. A college-level education empowers you with critical-thinking skills, and an awareness of the world that is extremely important to have. With a college degree, it is possible to pursue a career that brings lifelong personal satisfaction and financial stability. I know that attending college allowed me to start on a path to success. I am so proud to say that I am graduating from medical school this semester, and will officially be a doctor, 3 months from now! I was recently accepted into an eye doctor training program (ophthalmology residency). There are not many black doctors, especially not in the field of ophthalmology, so I feel so grateful to have made it to this point. It has been my lifelong dream to become a doctor and going to college made this dream a reality! If you go to college, any career goal you have will be within your reach! Make sure to seek out role models and mentors who you can relate to, at every step of your path. Sometimes, it can be hard to picture yourself accomplishing a difficult task. Having a mentor is extraordinarily helpful because it allows you to get to know someone who was once in your shoes. You can find out how they were able to accomplish the goals you want to accomplish. There are times when I was having a very hard time in school, and I sought out black mentors. It was so powerful to get to know people who looked like me, who were achieving great things in life. Getting to know these role models really made me feel like I could achieve great things too. It gave me the strength to continue working toward my dreams. Surround yourself by people who make you feel as though your dreams are possible!