I am currently a foundation year doctor working in Croydon University Hospital. I studied at St George’s for six years in total, three years studying Biomedical Science and three years studying Medicine.
I have not had the easiest of journeys but I believe that my journey and life experiences have not just been for my growth; they are also testimony that, regardless of what you are going through, you can achieve what you want if you put your mind to it.
I am Ghanaian and migrated to the UK at the tender age of seven to join my father as he completed his accountancy qualifications. A week after celebrating his graduation, my father unfortunately had a massive stroke and passed away. This left my mother, who at the time was a hospital cleaner, to raise three children on her own, thousands of miles away from her family and friends.
Life seemed to go downhill after the sudden passing of my father. My mother got a second job as a cleaner which meant that, until recently, she was away for 15 hours a day, seven days a week. She was hardly around due to work and during that time I experienced abuse, depression, betrayal, and, at one point, even homelessness as my mother could not pay the rent. My mother also developed high-grade breast cancer.
It meant that I spent a lot of my childhood alone, fending for myself. Studying became a coping mechanism for me. Fortunately, it was a good coping mechanism that yielded positive results and meant that my mother’s sacrifice was not in vain. I managed to achieve 5 A*s and 10 As in my GCSEs and also finish my A Levels with grades of A* AB.
Although I had to pay international fees for the first three years, I was able to commute into St George’s from home. With bank loans, several part-time jobs, and support from my church I was able to fund studying for my Biomedical science degree, graduating with first class honours and two prizes.
I got the transfer to medicine but feared that my immigration status would shatter my dreams of becoming a doctor. With support from my local MP, my church and Professor Jenny Higham, I appealed my immigration status and received indefinite leave to remain which meant three things – student loan, NHS bursary and home status fees. It meant that I could finally become a doctor.
Very recently I sat my finals and studied for them whilst grieving the loss of my best friend from cancer and nursing my mother also with cancer - she underwent surgery the day before my Situational Judgement exam. In between cooking for her and cleaning up her vomit, I would study, do pass medicine and practice for my prescribing exam. I am proud to say that despite the circumstances, I managed to achieve above 80% in my exams and graduated in the second decile.
I think the biggest reason why I am here now is due to the support of my mother, she worked like no woman has before for me to have the things that I have now. Her resilience fueled my resilience, watching her wake up at 4am and coming home at 11pm every day for over 10 years fueled my passion and motivation to be successful and give her the best life possible. Before my father died, he also said to me that ‘the only thing man cannot take away from you is your knowledge’ and after losing nearly everything, including my sanity, that statement got me through so much.
My time at St George’s was a very interesting experience. It shaped me into the woman I am today, I made amazing friends for life and truly felt the support of the staff and my peers, especially my personal tutor Dr Albert and Margot Turner. As with every institution there is room for improvement, but I believe that St George’s is a very supportive university who invest in their students and greatly enhance their personal development.
I am so happy that I was the president of the Afro-Caribbean society during my time at St George’s. I am proud that I was able to support and motivate a group of young BAME women, provide mentorship and be the general big sister medic that I wish I had.
Looking back, I wish I hadn’t let my home situation stop me from getting more involved with Students’ Union activities and fight for inclusivity and diversity, but I am extremely happy that things are changing. St George’s will forever have a special place in my heart, and I am extremely thankful for their role in my life.
When I reflect on my life journey, I am amazed at how far I have managed to come and I become so excited that I can only get better.