Jordan is a biology major with a chemistry minor who plans to be a physician and a researcher with a joint MD/Ph.D degree. He was awarded the Ezzard Scholarship last year.
What did you write about in your essay?
I talked about growing up and being a young person who never did well in school. I wasn’t really taught that I needed to go to college to succeed. I wasn’t taught how to study, to love learning, and that education was a means of success. I thought I would be successful without a college education. But the more that I lived, I found that it’s inevitable to ask youself questions that college can answer. For me they were questions about science, biology, and physics. I wanted to understand them. At that point I knew that I had to go back to school and scratch that itch.
Another part of my essay and part of the reason for acquiring the Ph.D portion of my degree is that I wanted to gain this knowledge to help underserved youth get interested in science, youth who don’t have good science backgrounds. A lot of them see no reason why it applies to them or, like myself as a kid, think that they are not smart enough to be scientists. At some point I would like to go back and teach children, middle schoolers, or high schoolers in underserved populations either officially or as a mentor.
How did you decide to work towards your joint degree?
It was progressive. Initially I wanted to study physical therapy. I have a physical therapist in my family and I got a chance to work with her. Being in a field I felt was positive, that helps people improve their lives — I’ve had several health problems in my life, and if you’re going to be in an admirable profession that is the pinnacle.
Since I didn’t have that academic foundation as a youth, I didn’t think I was smart enough to become a doctor. I had this idea of doctors being super intelligent, above what I could achieve. I didn’t have the confidence.
As an adult I applied myself in a whole different way. I dove straight into my education and cut out my social life and focused completely on school and I excelled. With one 4.0 semester after another, my confidence grew. Once I saw that I was intelligent and could achieve anything, it made a lot of sense that I would become a doctor.
What about your interest in research?
With all biology classes there are choices of mandatory labs. Since my minor is chemistry, those were the labs that I initially enrolled in early in my education. The exposure was a great experience for me. I love to be in the lab with goggles on, measuring equipment and calculations, and I love how every little drop of acid or base matters. This past October, I joined a lab which does research on a marine invertebrate called B. neritina, which has a symbiotic relationship with bacteria that produces a compound with anti-cancerous and anti-alzheimer’s properties. Being able to work in that lab and apply all these techniques I’ve been learning in labs for class over the last couple of years reaffirmed how much I love to be in the laboratory, having a real-life reason to use the equipment. On that end, you also see all the advances in medicine that physicians use for treatment. The antibiotics, the equipment, and almost everything else that doctors use come from research in the lab. What better way to have an impact on the betterment of society than to have both perspectives? I want to be on the frontlines seeing people day to day, seeing what’s working and what’s not, and then taking that information into the laboratory and improving on what we already have. I’ve always been a very creative person, and it irritates me when I have an idea but I don’t have the means to work on it myself. Working towards the MD/Ph.D is a way for me to gain the ability to do it all myself.