By: Vivian Iloabuchi
My interest in science and healthcare stems from growing up in an environment where people could not give me answers to the questions I had. For as long as I could remember, my mother never lived a sedentary lifestyle, but she did not necessarily have the healthiest one either. As a child, I never considered her meals unhealthy, everyone in the family ate the same Nigerian meals. Life became very confusing when my mother suddenly started exercising so much more and making her meals separately. I would eventually discover that my mother had been diagnosed with prediabetes. I had so many questions that no one seemed to know the answer to. How had we missed all the signs? Why my mother? Is this permanent? Could this have been prevented? Could this be passed down to me like eye defects?
Moving to the United States for a college education and participating in programs like the AHA-HBCU Scholars’ program opened my eyes to a plethora of issues such as health disparities and medical racism. While I now feel more confident about the science behind my questions, I have more questions now such as what I can do to help. In the past year, I have seen clearly the need for diverse voices in medicine. I have found my niche and I am sure that my voice matters. It gave me the mindset that I have the ability to fight for necessary change. I will be a physician someday, potentially in the field of cardiology. It is my intention to build on the work of others to find ways that ensure life is less cruel to people who suffer from heart diseases; especially people who are disproportionately affected by it. Also, I would like to be an important figure in driving the change of policies that perpetuate health inequities.
This summer has helped me feel more comfortable when communicating the science to different target populations. It is challenging to know that at this level I am only qualified speak on preventative measures that protect against heart disease and that I can only volunteer at organizations that care about good health policies. However, I am taking things one step at a time. I am committed to this journey that my passion for science will take me on. For heart diseases, I am constantly looking to learn and conduct research, For the political change I seek, I am putting in the work to learn more about Health Policy in Public Health via internships and masters’ programs. Science has been my form of self-expression since it showed me that I am needed.