The path to medical school wasn’t always straight for Astrid Medina, a first-year student at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine from Miami, Florida. But the underrepresented minority scholarship winner was able to make it despite the obstacles, and she wants others to see that they can make it too.
Medina spent her early childhood in a Los Angeles suburb and was raised by a single mother. She lived in a small house with the rest of her family.
“Growing up, I remember we never really went to the doctor,” Medina said. “It wasn’t until later on that I learned we didn’t have insurance.”
Southern California is an expensive place to live and her family simply couldn’t afford the coverage. For vaccinations, Medina would go to the local health department. That was essentially the extent of her access to health care.
“I had an uncle who I adored because I didn’t have a father. He was in pain, and popped pills like Skittles. He went to the doctor to get checked and they couldn’t figure out the pain. He just got more pills and didn’t want to go back,” Medina said. “When he was 26, he passed away in the shower. He had a cerebral stroke. Looking back, we didn’t have that access to care. Could he have been saved?”
Medina is leaning toward specializing in neurology or internal medicine. But no matter what she chooses, she wants to provide care to underserved populations in her career, possibly in Southern California.
“I think I could inspire other Latina women,” Medina said. “They could see someone who looks like them, who speaks their language. They’d think, ‘I can do it too.’”
Winning the underrepresented minority scholarship is helping to make those dreams possible. Without its support, Medina might not be able to attend medical school.
“I feel very grateful to have received that scholarship, especially because I’m a mom and children are expensive,” Medina said.
Her daughter moved with her from Miami, along with her husband and mother. “Our school is aware we need more diverse doctors and supports that we, as a minority, have dreams too,” Medina said.
Medina, who attended Florida International University as an undergraduate, was also accepted to its medical school. But she chose Wright State because of its supportive faculty and the camaraderie she felt between the students. With the small size of her class, she feels that it’s easy to get to know everyone and to feel welcomed.
Medina is a member of the Student National Medical Association, the oldest and largest medical student organization dedicated to serving the needs of underserved communities and underrepresented minority students who wish to pursue careers in the field of medicine.
“It’s really nice to be a part of a school that recognizes and supports diversity in general,” she said.
For giving opportunities that support students at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, visit medicine.wright.edu/community/giving-opportunities.