4th year medical student at the VCU School of Medicine with a concentration in Orthopaedic Surgery.
Striving & Thriving at VCU Talks to Keli about advice he can give minoritized students in STEM, if he always knew that he wanted to go into STEM, advice for his younger self, and his least favorite STEM course that he has taken.
An interview with Keli
What advice would you give minoritized students in STEM fields?
The biggest advice I would give to any minority interested in STEM is finding a mentor. I think my experience in STEM would not have been half as successful as it was if I didn’t have minorities who told me which ways to go and which things to generally avoid and which things would be a good investment of my time and which things would be a waste of my time. I think minorities in STEM fields are going to be a minority so it can be difficult to try to find a good mentorship from people who have at least experienced some of the things that you are likely to experience or maybe have already experienced. If you can get someone who has been through the door before you and you can pick their brain, you should do that. That way you can throw whatever tips and knowledge that they have gained over the years into your profile, and you utilize that to help boost you further.
Did you always know that you wanted to go into STEM?
I did since 10th grade. I always had an affinity for math and sciences, so I knew I was always going to work with numbers in one way or another. It wasn’t until my human anatomy class in sophomore year that I was convinced I wanted to pursue medicine.
What is some advice that you’d give to your younger self?
Patience. I think I got caught up in the destination or wanting to get to the destination. I’ve always been a destination person, not a “enjoy the journey” type of person. If you have a negative stance or negative take on your own self-esteem and abilities, that puts you at risk for perpetuating cycles of self-defeat. For me, I would’ve told myself back in the day, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get straight A’s, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t ace every exam. It’s a marathon it’s not a sprint. It’s better to be patient and take care of yourself mentally than it is to stress myself out burning myself out trying to constantly beat my head against textbooks.
What has been your least favorite STEM class that you have taken?
My least favorite STEM class was probably dermatology, I can’t. Skin is gross, pimples are gross, zits are gross. Anything that “pops” is gross. Flakiness is gross. I appreciate the function and I appreciate dermatologists and what they do but it ain’t me.