Throughout my teen years and up until my sophomore year in college, my grandmother was like a mother figure to me. She was strong and confident and wanted the best for me, unfortunately she was unable to see me live out my dream. My grandmother was a breast cancer survivor but, she couldn't survive the stroke because her body was too weak. When my grandmother passed away it was as if my whole world came crashing down once again but, this time there was a strong bond that developed between us that I did not want to be over but it was. I will always remain thankful to the physicians and staff at the Bon Secours Health System who helped me though this hard time. Right after my grandmother passed away my mother suffered from her third transient ischemic attack this one more severe than the others. Although my mother is still sick today and has just recovered from another transient ischemic attack I still have the perseverance and strength now more than ever to pursue a career in medicine. The painful experiences that I have suffered throughout my life have made me stronger.
Life has taught me that Laughter is so much more than a sound. It can force sadness to the back of the mind, it can make the impossible seem preposterously possible, and most importantly, it can unite. Sharing a chuckle with the person in front of you in the check out line makes you feel bonded to him or her, doesn't it? A laugh breaks down the barrier of the unknown and forces commonality, even if it is only for a moment. The patients at The University Hospital in Baltimore Maryland gave me the observation that "Pain is deeper than all thought; and laughter is higher than all pain." My desire to explore an interest in clinical medicine and to give something back to the institution that helped my family through our tribulation prompted me to volunteer in the Child Life Department at University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. I see many frightening faces that stir up the images of the many visits to the hospital with my grandmother. During my shift, I tried to make those admitted more at ease either with meals, conversation, or a video game and crafts. My contact with patients and involvement with their care are rewarding experiences that helped to strengthen my resolve to pursue a medical career.
Beginning in February of 2007 I started an Americorps volunteer membership with The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute as a Community Health Worker. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that I was embarking on a life altering experience that would prepare me for a future in the medical field. The internship consisted of eight weeks of intense training and an entrance exam at the end of the training period. Immediately after the training period we were sent out into the East Baltimore Community to bridge the gap between the residents of East Baltimore and, the Health Care System. During the first few weeks following the training period I was given the opportunity to interact with residents from diverse backgrounds. While interacting with the residents I provided them with useful information regarding healthy lifestyle habits, diet and nutrition, hypertension preventative methods, diabetes mellitus preventative methods, cancer preventative methods and HIV/STD preventative methods. I also had the opportunity to conduct blood pressure screenings at the North East Market in which, I was able to offer residents advice on how to lower their hypertension levels. As a community health worker, I am also responsible for weekly rotations at The East Baltimore Medical Center. My primary duty as a community health worker at east Baltimore Medical Center is to promote breastfeeding and, to help the obstetrics patients have a successful pregnancy by discussing a wide-range of healthcare topics in relation to pregnancy, along with offering them supportive resources that can be beneficial.
Being a medical professional requires a love for all people and an ability to relate to those who we can't possibly foresee an initial connection. It is a physician's job, first and foremost, to create this connection. The common bond should then blossom into a mutual relationship of trust and dependability. In my everyday life, I constantly practice my ability to make such connections. I spend a great deal of my time and hard work contributing to several community organizations throughout Baltimore City such as the Fayette Street Outreach Community Organization. Along with working with the youth in my community to help keep our neighborhoods clean. The young children in my community do not have many extra-curricular activities but, I try to give them something positive to do by taking them to bible study and simple things like walking the dog and escorting them to the playground. Beginning in September of 2007 I started the implementation process of my Reach One, Teach One Youth Enrichment Program sponsored by Real Time Community Commitment and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. There are so many things that can cause children to choose the wrong path so, it is important to impact their lives in any way that is positive. I am also a 2008 recipient of The Governor’s Office on Community Service and Volunteerism Award for National Service. I have a true passion for helping people.
When people ask me the question, "Shant'e, why do you want to be a physician?" I always give the same answer. All of my experiences, hospital exposure, personal life, science classes, and work experiences that have intrigued and amazed me, and all of the characteristics I have that drive me in this direction add up to one simple answer:" Because I know I'D be a good one." While my thirst for medical knowledge has guided me towards medicine, my experiences with patients and desire to work with those who are ill fortify my convictions of becoming a physician.