Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

When I first began my premed studies I remember learning about the two percent; an American Medical Association study found that only two percent of surveyed physicians were black women. As a child, I experienced this first hand. I had a slew of health issues, ranging from a busted lip to a life-threatening infection. All left scars. While hospitalized, I noticed I could identify myself in many of the nurses, but almost none of my doctors. Thankfully, my curiosity overcame my fear prompting me to ask my doctor what pus was. My short lecture on phagocytosis left me intrigued and wondering if I could be Dr. Alexandra-Elise Dakaud, MD?
As a homeless teen, I migrated through some of the worst schools. During this time, I was also scarred with the belief that people who become doctors have the best families, go to the best schools, and come from the best neighborhoods. I simply did not fit in any of those categories, and in turn found myself being scoffed at by peers and guidance counselors. Despite the various obstacles I knew I would have to overcome, my scars would not define me. Instead, I began to shadow in various specialties. I remember the exhilaration I felt being in the operating room and eagerly watching the surgeons. Unique to the practice of plastic surgery, I truly enjoyed seeing the intersection between patients’ vision and the surgeons’ expertise which not only produce physical changes, but also changes in an individual’s perspective on life at times. I believe that it is that human connection to have empathy for the scars of others that gives not only a face but a cause to our work. With a curious, open, and focused mind, I have no doubt that my journey of becoming a part of the ever-growing two percent will continue to develop as it should. My scars are part of me, but they do not define me. I will carry them on my journey, but they will not determine my path. They will heal. And my future will be defined by my desire to heal, serve, and inspire others.

Alexandra-Elise from Georgia
Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University