What is your name, age, and location?
Emily, 22 years old, Boston, Massachusetts.
What is your profession?
I am currently in medical school.
What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?
In college, I studied Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology with a focus on Neuroscience. I received my BA from Yale.
What was your first job?
I was a babysitter and tutor throughout high school.
Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?
I was driven to pursue a career in medicine through a combination of convoluted factors throughout my life, including my research in tropical medicine in Thailand, my volunteer work and babysitting of children with autism, my growing passion for science and my love of working with people.
Name/describe what has been your most rewarding project so far?
My most rewarding project has been my work in establishing and building a non-profit organization in Rwanda called Gardens for Health International. We work to help people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses to farm their own land so that they can create sustainable sources of nutrition.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?
As a woman pursuing a career in medicine, I feel like I have a slight advantage in being part of the growing minority gender in the field. Now that women are recognized as key players in medicine, there is more of an effort to support us.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?
While my gender has furthered my career due to the increased pressure to bring women into the profession, it has also hindered my career in terms of freedom to choose a specialization within medicine. I can recall several medical school interviews during which I was asked the question: “how will you balance career and family?” And in talking with the other interviewees, I realized that only the females were asked this question.
I received skepticism when I responded that I hoped to balance career and family successfully, and that I hoped not to have to sacrifice either too extensively. Maybe I am naive. But I still felt down about this. The questioning inevitably moved on to, “so what type of medicine are you interested in?” I would say that I am open to all specialties at this point, but that I am leaning toward pediatrics or internal medicine (which is true, but not because I don’t think I could manage a more “intense” specialty). This was the response they were hoping for, I sensed. I fear that if I had responded with “neurosurgery” my application would have been looked less highly upon.
Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?
My Dad has been my greatest support and role model throughout my life. He has been pursuing so many different things in his life, has been an excellent father to five different children, and never ceases wanting to make a difference in the lives of other people.
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?
Take advantage of each opportunity that comes your way, even if you’re afraid of where it may take you.
– Interview by Haley Hogan