A friend once told me that you’ll never know where you want to go unless you can begin to understand where you come from.  Growing up as the middle child of an interracial family, I was never 100% sure of myself.  Through sports, however, I found that I was able to express myself and shine.  While I found enjoyment in being a top contender on the court, I knew that there was more depth to me than just sports.  It took a 23-hour flight across the globe to confirm which path I was meant to take in life.

I was fortunate enough to be born into a family full of values, hard work, and determination.  We were told never to quit just because things got difficult, and through the history of my parents’ and grandparents’ lives we were taught perseverance.  From as early as when my little sister and I use to play “doctor” and try to cut our dolls open to mimic being in the emergency room, I’ve dreamt of being in the medical field.  Later, going to a private high school, I continued with my dream but realized that I wanted to combine my love for sports with medicine and I wanted to start practicing as soon as possible.  I decided not to go to college to be a pre-med major, but rather to study Athletic Training.  Athletic Training, I thought, would allow me to practice right after graduation, would help me to stay connected with sports and athletes, and would still give me the satisfaction of helping people.  What I was not aware of, however, was just how intense the major was.  For four years I tackled a full course load, completed anywhere between 30-60 clinical hours a week, travelled with the designated teams, got a paying job on the side, played for Northeastern University’s women’s club rugby team, and still maintained an active social life.  I absolutely loved it!  While the road to graduation left me with many sleepless nights, I would not trade that experience in for anything.

Upon graduating I applied to different types of athletic training jobs, including working in a hospital setting as a physician extender, participating in a fellowship program, being a graduate assistant, and even working as an athletic trainer in the military.  I felt, however, that there was something missing in my life.  Because I had to complete a certain number of clinical hours while taking classes, and because the athletic training profession is not well known overseas, I was confined to the United States during my college career.  I’ve always felt that you can never truly be a well-rounded person unless you can put yourself in another person’s shoes and experience something different from your norm.  Luckily, I had friends who had the same desire as I did to escape for a year and experience life outside of our comfort zone.  We received a promising connection in New Zealand to work on a vineyard and make wine, something completely unimaginable for me!  A week before I was set to step foot onto the plane that would take me away from the hustle and bustle of New York for 8 months, I received a phone call from a potential employer.  He told me that a head athletic training position had opened at a college in New York City, and he had heard great things about me and wanted me to interview for the position.  I was ecstatic to discover that this man was asking me, a recent college graduate with only undergraduate experience, to head an entire program!  After much internal debate, I decided that in order for me to grow as an individual I needed to become that well-rounded person that I desired; I had to leave the country.

My time in New Zealand was and forever will be indescribable.  While doing a monotonous job every day in the blazing sun, I was able to think about my life; the past, the present, and what I want for myself in the future.  I was able to free my mind away from computers, cell phones, and people rushing to get to where they are going.  Somehow, the laid-back attitude of the Kiwis allowed me to come to realize what I am meant to do for myself and consequentially, for those around me.  I believe that the health care system of today needs a change.  It needs to revert back to when physicians actually cared about the health of people and when they would treat the whole patient, not just the disease.  I want to be that physician assistant who makes a difference in someone’s life.  Even now as an Athletic Trainer helping to return an athlete back to playing the sport that they love, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.  I want to be overwhelmed with that same feeling of worth by restoring the faith of the public in our health care providers.

Even at a young age playing with my dolls, I knew that becoming a health care provider was the right path for me.  I want to change peoples’ lives for the better, to bring hope to bad situations, and to restore faith that there are still health professionals in the medical field for the right reasons.  After I landed on the soil of the United States I made a promise to myself that I would follow through with everything that I discovered while abroad.  I can now be 100% confident in saying that I know exactly where I have come from and exactly where I need to be.

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