Imagine holding a baby wearing doll clothes and a diaper made of gauze because she was too small. When I was 4 years old, my sister was born 4 months prematurely, weighing only 1 pound and 7 ounces. The doctors had no idea if she would survive. She was put in a neonatal intensive care unit for 12 weeks. I remember the numerous long trips to the hospital, wondering if my sister would ever come home. After 12 weeks, she finally arrived home and my dream of becoming a doctor took root. I will never forget the joy the physicians brought to my family; those feelings of hope, alleviated distress, and miraculous awe motivated me to strive to become a doctor. By caring for my sister and observing the sensitivity the physicians had towards my family and I, I have discovered deep resources of calmness and empathy within myself, and an unending dedication for aiding others that will remain with me forever.

Ten years later, I was a freshman in high school and my sister was a healthy 5th grader. Unexpectedly, she had a seizure during school. The doctors were not sure what caused it, but told us what to do if it happened again. While I hoped it would never reoccur, I also hoped that if it did, I would be there this time. One day, at home, she had another seizure. Instead of being scared or sad, I recognized my responsibilities and committed to helping her. I calmed her down and in a few minutes the seizure was over. After, my sister and I held each other crying while she thanked me for being there for her. This experience solidified my desire to become a doctor. When my sister was vulnerable, she found comfort in me and I was able to care for her, just as the doctors did when my family needed them. As I reflect on this moment, I realize that in times of emergency, when most are panicked, I remain unflustered. My calming manner allowed me to approach the situation logically, rather than allowing my emotions to overwhelm me in this extremely frightening and stressful situation. This has shown me the importance of remaining calm and projecting calmness in order to provide a necessary support system for those struggling medically.

In college, I was drawn to extra-curricular activities that aimed to better the lives of children and those who are less fortunate. In my freshman year, I joined “Dance Marathon”, which hosts an annual event benefiting children staying at UF Health Shands in Gainesville. Each year, hundreds of Dance Marathon participants stay awake and on their feet for 26.2 hours to raise awareness and money for children fighting pediatric illnesses. I participated in this event all 4 years, raising over $6k for the Children’s Miracle Network, in the hopes that in the future, every family could be as lucky as mine and have a tiny loved one come home alive and healthy. This experience allowed me to see my own resilience, dedication, and a willingness to put in significant effort to help others. Dance Marathon made me part of something bigger than myself, impacting the lives of sick children around the world.

Dance Marathon sparked my interest in pediatric disorders, so in my sophomore year, I shadowed multiple physicians at the UF Health Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic. I noticed that the first-time patients were less inclined to open up and viewed being there as a punishment. Frequent patients were more comfortable expressing how they felt, because the physician had adjusted her behaviors appropriately once getting to understand them. This taught me the importance of a strong doctor-patient relationship in order to have effective treatment. After interacting with various patients, I wanted to prioritize my work with children, so in my junior year I began neonatal research at the McKnight Brain Institute. I assisted and performed Western blots, ELISA detections, protein assays, and histological experiments. When cutting and mounting tissues for histology, I ran into problems and had to communicate to my supervisor the mistakes that were made, so we could resolve them together. This taught me the importance of working collaboratively with others to achieve desired results. Being in a lab and analyzing findings fueled my love for learning and cultivating a deeper understanding of the medical field, so that I can continue to fight for those who can’t.

What my sister went through pushed me to strengthen my knowledge in medical education, patient care, and research. These events have influenced who I am today and helped me determine my own passions. I aspire to be a doctor because I want to make miracles, like my sister, happen. Life is something to cherish; it would not be the same if I did not have one of my four sisters to spend it with. As all stories have endings, I hope that mine ends with me fulfilling my dream of being a doctor, which has been the sole focus of my life to this point. I would love nothing more than to dedicate myself to such a rewarding career, where I achieve what those doctors did for my family. Their expertise allowed my sister to get all the care she needed for her heart, eyes, lungs, and overall growth. Those physicians gave me more than just my little sister, they gave me the determination and focus needed to succeed in the medical field, and for that, I am forever grateful.

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