Undergraduate student majoring in Biology/Pre-med.
Striving & Thriving at VCU talks to Atuahene about what led him to major in biology and his career aspirations in the field of medicine.
What led you to study biology?
Growing up I have not really explored any other career choices. It has always been medicine to become a doctor. Biology is the perfect balance of having the required classes that I need to apply to medical school without doing any other extra coursework. Because for some majors, if you do engineering for example, you have to do the engineering classes and then try to fit in the pre-med requirements. But biology has everything that I need to go to medical school.
I also remember when I was coming to college a lot of people were telling me, if you major in biology, there's not a lot of options for you and that after graduation one has to pursue further study in fields like public health. To be honest, for a second I considered pursuing graduate programs, but through those reflections I always came to the conclusion that my true goal is to go to medical school. So even if I graduate, it doesn't matter whether I have a job or not because medical school is the next step.
What does it mean to be a STEM student?
There's a lot of delayed gratification in being a student in STEM because a lot of our ambitions and aspirations and the things we want to accomplish, we're not going to see in the next five, six years. It's something way down the future. So being a STEM student is about being able to sit down now and put in the work, whatever you need to do, in hopes that some days down the future you can accomplish the things that you set out to do. For me personally, my long term goals include going back to Africa to help with medical equipment and medical devices. Having that delayed gratification requires patience.
On top of it all, being a STEM student is hard work. It's incredibly important because I remember when I took organic chemistry that was the first time I got a C in college. I felt this is what it takes. I don't want to get a C, but there are going to be times I'm not going to get what I want. I remind myself to not get discouraged by those moments and again practice patience.
What intrigues you about medicine?
I've been thinking about this for a long time. I think most of us do. I can't really see myself doing anything else. I truly enjoy learning. I know a lot of people talk about how school is outdated. But I enjoy learning and medicine entails life long learning. There's always going to be new advancements in treatments and approaches that I will be expected to learn. So it's not just about not seeing myself doing anything else but also that I just enjoy learning. Those are the main reasons I want to go into medicine.
What impact do you see yourself having within medicine?
I'm from Ghana and during a summer I had the privilege of going back and shadowing a few physicians. While there I noticed the difference in equipment compared to that I saw during my shadowing at MCV. Looking back at that experience made me want to find ways to help, especially people in Africa, because they don't have a lot of resources and they could be doing more, but they are limited due to scarcity of resources. When I go into medicine, one thing I really want to push for is helping take equipment back to Africa to bridge that gap and help move to the next level.
What is your favorite study spot on campus?
Fourth floor of the reading area.
How would you describe living in Richmond?
What do you do with the first 30 minutes of your day?
Who do you respect and admire?
What is most rewarding about being in STEM?
Being able to help others.
Favorite thing to do after an exam?
Read a book
Favorite TV show
Sweet or salty?
What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
What's your zodiac sign?
What's your favorite place in Richmond?
Cooking or baking?
A place you want to travel to is...
What is your go to coffee-shop order?
Tricia Smith. She teaches cell bio and is amazing!
What have been your biggest obstacle in this journey?
If you could major in a non-STEM major, what would it be and why?
Philosophy because I like to think about abstract thoughts like why are we here? What is the purpose of life?
What is your favorite STEM related course?
How many languages do you speak?
Two and a half. I speak a little Spanish.
What's your favorite Disney movie?
I'm not really a Disney person.
Favorite VCU event that you have attended?
School of Medicine tour
Texting or Face Time?
Favorite time of the day?