About two months after I started residency, I received a copy of my official diploma denoting my medical degree. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed with emotions as I reflected on the journey that I have traveled to make that moment a reality. Though I had gone through the graduation ceremony months earlier, commemorating the completion of my medical school journey, I realized that a part of me still did not fully believe that I had actually attained the milestone until I held the physical evidence in my hand. I stared at the document and a rush of memories came flooding over me, memories of years spent trying to overcome what at times felt like insurmountable obstacles to finally make this dream a reality.
I thought back at the formative years spent in West Africa, witnessing the impact and devastation that the lack of basic medical care can heap on impoverished communities. I reflected on my immigrant journey to the United States at the age of 11. Though growing up in Oakland CA was remarkably different from my earlier childhood in Nigeria, I found striking similarities in the plight of the poor and my experiences presented to me a different America than I ever thought existed. As an undocumented student for over 13 years, I worked hard to navigate the educational system to pursue my goal of becoming a physician despite years spent in limbo, unable to even apply to medical school due to lack of legal documentation. I never gave up on this fight because my life experiences and unique insight in to the plights of marginalized communities illustrated to me that medicine can be an avenue for social good. I had begun to think of health in a much broader sense, with a sense of urgency to address the social complexities of the medically disenfranchised, especially as it relates to mental health.
As I held this document in my mind and the tears streamed down my face, I looked around me and I was humbled by the environment that I now find myself in. At the MGH/McLean Psychiatry program, I know that I will be more than well-equipped upon the completion of my training here to continue the work that has fueled me for much of my life: addressing psychosocial, cultural, economic and environmental factors to improve mental health delivery and access for indigent populations. In my short time here, I have been inspired at the innovative work being done at so many levels to explore comprehensive measures to help improve the lives of patients across all spheres of the healthcare spectrum.
I have already established deep connections with mentors who have taken me under their tutelage, colleagues who are continually inspiring me by their resolute commitment not only to clinical excellence but towards building a cohesive community within the program. It is with the utmost humility that I look ahead at the future with immeasurable excitement and gratitude for the journey that brought me here, the opportunities for personal and professional growth that lies ahead, and with a steadfast commitment to the fight for social justice using healthcare as the catalyst and building block.