Wendy Clay

4th year medical student at the VCU School of Medicine. 

Striving & Thriving at VCU talks to Wendy about the reason why she chose her undergrad major, advice for STEM students, and what she would tell her past self.

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An interview with Wendy

What was your undergrad major and why did you choose it?

In undergrad, I was actually not a science major. I double-majored in history and global studies with an emphasis on global health issues. My reason for doing those was that I knew without a doubt that I wanted to go into medicine. I also knew that there were other aspects of people’s lives that impacted their health. I wanted to delve into some of the humanities that would allow me to really explore those issues.

Do you have any advice for students in STEM?

I have a three-pronged answer.

  1. You do belong. This is where you belong. That is not to say that every place that you belong that the path is going to be easy. Easiness is not the indicator of belonging. Even in the midst of the struggles just remember that.

  2. Even as you’re pursuing whatever STEM field you choose, remember to nurture your non-STEM interests. Those interests are really going to help you apply the knowledge that you’re gaining into different areas of life.

  3. Remember the knowledge that you’re gaining isn’t going to be utilized in a vacuum. What I mean by that is, the knowledge that you are going to gain by whatever STEM field that you are going into will end up impacting public policy, might help deal with the next global health issues, might impact how we deal with environmental challenges we’re facing. In order to not have that knowledge exist in a vacuum, you need to actively engage with your community so that when the time comes for you to stand up and say how this knowledge is important, you will be a trusted source within that community as you’re providing that information.

What do you wish you could say to yourself five years ago?

I definitely know that the person I was five years ago would be proud of where I’m at now. I think that if I could go back, I would tell them that life wasn’t going to be nearly as stressful as I was imagining it. All of the work that I was doing, that I was unsure about it paying off, absolutely paid off. Continue to do it with joy.