"SHPEP is the program that solidified my foundation."
Ms. Waldon participated in SHPEP in 2020 at UCLA. She has since earned her bachelor's degree and is a candidate for medical school.
I had the privilege and honor of being a part of SHPEP in the 2020 cohort. Experiencing something at the caliber of SHPEP during such uncertain times brought about a level of strength and knowledge I did not know I had. I was tested in ways like never before and expected to rise to the challenge. Many times, Pre-Meds often join these programs with all the qualifications needed and end up being the individuals feeling like imposters. SHPEP is the program that solidified my foundation. My passion for medicine was never a question, but the confidence to know I was made for medicine and deserved to be in medicine came from SHPEP. From my peers to the faculty SHPEP was a life-changing experience, to say the least. I learned so much about myself while gaining the fundamental tools needed to become a competitive candidate for medical school. SHPEP provided a community and family that fostered a dynamic of positivity and support.
Most importantly, SHPEP is what helped me dial down and mold my profession of interest. Before SHPEP I always knew I wanted to be an OBGYN, but after leaving SHPEP I can now say I will be an OBGYN with an emphasis on underserved communities and health disparities. The program opened new doors for me and to them, I am forever grateful.
What path did you take when you first started college?
I took the traditional path of Bio Pre-Med, before switching my major three times in one week and finding my home in Kinesiology where I flourished.
What led to your interest in a health profession?
My passion from childhood and building on it as I grew up. Many stories can be told about where my interest in a health profession came from, but the easiest to tell is knowing from a child that I was made for this.
Who are what inspired you?
Women inspired me. It was not so much an isolated factor but more of a pure and innocent admiration for the female anatomy and all that it can do. I have always felt so inspired by women and mothers to be exact. To be able to carry and produce life will always be astonishing to me. We are amazing beings, and it is a privilege to be in the profession I am seeking.
What obstacles did you overcome in your educational or career journey?
Many obstacles, but no one sees that. No one sees the classes I have had to retake, the tears shed and doubting thoughts, the sacrifices of being a student-athlete, the no’s from certain opportunities I wanted or the GPA I did not like. They only see the product of me standing tall with a smile and not stopping because who I serve is bigger than my shortcomings. My journey has not been easy, but it has been worth it thus far.
What are some of your recent milestones?
Some recent milestones are graduating with my bachelor’s, a personal static of being the “Most Experienced Player” in my programs Division 1 history, as well as becoming a scribe.
What makes your story unique?
What makes my story unique is that statistically I am not supposed to be here. Based on my story, I was not supposed to get this far but I did and surpassed it at that. My story is simply a motivation rather than a crutch. Many who could have been put in my shoes may have not been able to carry and manage as well. But my tenacity, my grit, and my motivation are unique. Everything I do is 100% big or small and I am willing to outwork anyone around me because everything I have was earned not given.
How did SHPEP influence you?
SHPEP influenced me in the most positive way possible. There were many days I questioned my abilities and place in SHPEP, but I quickly learned that I needed to get out of my own way. It really showed me that I could do and be anything as long as I stay true to myself and who I am.
Do you remember your first day of graduate studies? What memory stands out the most?
I currently do not have any first day of graduate study memories, but I hope to come this time next year!
What has been your favorite part of the process? The most difficult?
My favorite part of the process has been the struggle. I say that because there is so much beauty in the struggle. The only way to elevate is to feel uncomfortable and during the process there are so many stages of feeling uncomfortable. When you finish there is a sigh of relief that you did not give up.
The most difficult is not giving up. It is so easy to quit but staying in it and standing in it is the real testimony. That is the most difficult of any hardship I have faced, do not give up.
Did you have experiences or mentors that prepared you for a career as a health professional?
Yes, my Pre-Health advisor during undergrad really helped me prepare for this journey. She provided 24/7 support for my needs and always reminded me “It’s going to be fine”. It sounds so cliche, but she was always right. She knew my capabilities and never allowed me to victimize myself.
What is the best career advice you have received?
The best career advice I have received is to follow your passion, not the money.
What advice do you have for students pursuing a health professional career?
The advice I have for students pursuing a health professional career is to make sure this is something you really want to do. Take away the earnings and place yourself in the scenario where you are doing this profession for free, would you still do it? There are going to be so many roadblocks on this journey and the only thing that will get you where you want to go is how bad you want. If you are willing to give everything you have no matter what, go for it because we need you.