This little girl is my actual hero right now!
Does anyone remember the show "Doogie Howser, M.D." or am I just aging myself? I used to watch that show religiously, but even as a kid, I realized that could never happen. Kids can't be doctors! Please don't tell 13-year-old Alena Analeigh Wicker that because she will prove you wrong. Alena has just made history as the youngest Black person in the U.S. to be accepted into medical school.
Most parents want their children to do good things in their life. They hope they will accomplish any dreams and goals they set out to do while cheering them on along the way. Which is what Alena's mother, Daphne McQuarter, does constantly. The pair travel around the world as part of Alena's mission for her organization Brown STEM Girls, which works to help girls of color explore futures in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women are still in the minority in STEM careers, representing just 27% of all STEM workers. When broken down further, only about 5% of women of color have careers in STEM.
How does one get accepted into medical school at just 13? "I was bored," Alena told the The Washington Post. "The high school work was so easy for me that I ended up graduating from high school at 12 years old."
After that, she was accepted into Arizona State University and Oakwood University and is currently a junior at both schools finishing up degrees in biological sciences. After a single engineering course, which she ended up dropping, the future doctor changed direction realizing that engineering was not something she was passionate about. As she told Ebony, it was a trip to Jordan with her organization that made her conclude that viral immunology is where she wanted to be, so she took the next step and applied for medical school.
The teen posted about her acceptance on her Instagram page, sharing a picture of the letter from the University of Alabama's Heersink School of Medicine for 2024. On average, only 7% of applicants get accepted to medical school in America, and just 7% of those accepted are Black. Clearly, she is amazing, this achievement topping her previous accolades of being nominated for Time's Top Kid of the Year and being NASA's youngest intern. Is there anything she can't do?
If you're worried she's missing out on her childhood, have no fear. Though she is scheduled to complete medical school by 18, Alena still makes time for her friends and does age-appropriate activities like going to the arcade and playing soccer. In her Instagram post, she reflected, "Statistics would have said I never would have made it. A little black girl adopted from Fontana California. I’ve worked so hard to reach my goals and live my dreams.”
Alena is determined to succeed and it's clear that she has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. Here's wishing her all the best in medical school. Who knows, maybe one day we'll see her picture next to the cure for something big.