Future doctors to study abroad

Imagine getting the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with distinguished medical leaders, researchers and practitioners to gain a tremendous head start toward a career in medicine.

Now imagine acquiring a global perspective on medicinal practice in the clinics of Australia or Ethiopia.

This summer, sophomores Brain Perry and Ariana Burgess will not have to imagine because they will see first-hand how doctors administer care to many ethnic groups.

Perry, a biology premed student, said he knew at an early age that he wanted to be a doctor.

“When I was in the third grade, my mind was made up about my future career,” said the 19-year-old from Jacksonville. “It dawned on me that I really wanted to be a cardiologist.”

Perry is among 80 college students from colleges and universities throughout the United States selected by the International Medical Mission to participate in the cultural and educational enrichment experience abroad.

“I’m excited for Brian because he was always into the sciences,” said Perry’s mother, Priscilla Perry. “I asked him if he was sure if this is what he wanted to do, and he said, ‘yes’.”

Ms. Perry said it was always a challenge to keep Perry busy and she knows he’ll do well on his trip.

Just like Perry, Burgess said her interest in science evolved from her childhood curiosity.

“I was totally oblivious about bacteria growth at the age of six,” said Burgess, a molecular biology student from Miami. “I soon learned the different stages and conditions of bacteria as I conducted experiments with my microscope set.”

Now the two are well on their way to fulfilling their dreams.

Perry will head to Australia to meet with representatives of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, who reach out and treat the people of the outback. Burgess, who was the only student from FAMU chosen to participate in the Minority International Research training program, will spend eight weeks in Ethiopia researching malaria and training internationally to reduce disparities in global health.

“Both Ariana and Brian are two outstanding students who are committed to improving the quality of individual’s lives through health related research and service,” said Eric J. Toran, associate professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences.

Toran, who also serves as adviser to the Student National Medical Association, said these training opportunities would provide them with valuable knowledge and experience and help them to reach their long-term goals.

“They both aspire to become physicians to help alleviate conditions and diseases affecting people of color throughout the world,” Toran said.

Sylvia Woods, Burgess’ aunt, said she is proud of what Burgess is trying to become.

“I have the utmost respect for her and what she is trying to accomplish with her life,” Woods said. “It’s just great what she is doing.”

As members of SNMA, Perry and Burgess had the opportunity to meet their role model, Dr. Benjamin Carson Sr., renowned director of the division of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

“I was blessed to hear a motivational speech from my personal role model. He sparked my passion to become a cardiologist even more,” said Perry in reference to meeting Carson.

“Speaking with Ben Carson inspired me to not allow adversity to deter me from my goals,” Burgess said. “He allowed me to see that I am a future physician in practice.”

Perry and Burgess said this summer is just the beginning.

“Over the years, I watched God pave the way for my future profession and provide me with opportunities for higher learning,” he said.

He added that he knows that he will be the best cardiologist that hard work and a persistent mind can produce.

Burgess expressed similar sentiments.

She said this opportunity to participate in international biomedical and behavioral research is not of her own, but also that of God.

“My passion and need for helping others motivates me to continue to excel,” she said.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

contact kaye dallas at thefamuaneditor@hotmail.com.