Ross University Blog

SCHOLARSHIP: Student, Mother, Nurse Follows Childhood Dream to MD

July 13, 2016

Rewaida Hall, Class of 2020, recipient of the Eliza Ann Grier scholarship

Rewaida Hall, Class of 2020, recipient of the Eliza Ann Grier scholarship

On a visit to the doctor’s office at age 9, Rewaida Hall didn’t sit quietly on the exam table and wait for the medical staff to ask her questions. Instead, she informed the nurses and doctor that she already knew what had her under the weather: measles. She showed them the spots on her skin, rattled off the rest of her symptoms, and considered the matter settled.

“The doctor smiled and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up,” says Hall, “and I replied without hesitation, ‘a doctor.’”

It hardly needed to be said. Even without her self-diagnosis, Hall’s natural inclination to be a doctor was plain from the outset. She would gather the neighborhood kids and set up a mock hospital, analyzing their symptoms, providing a diagnosis and treating their illness with candy (much to her mother’s dismay). Then, when Hall entered secondary school, she followed an educational track designed for students with an interest in health science. When she received an assignment to interview a community figure who inspired her, she chose a physician.

It seemed all the pieces were falling into place. Until they weren’t.

A Dream Deferred

Hall grew up in an extended family setting in Ghana alongside her cousins and their respective families. As she was in the same age cohort as two of her male cousins, the three of them went through all their rites of passage together. However, Hall was designated the nurse of the family, while the two males had the choice of being a physician or an engineer.

So medicine was pushed to the back burner as Hall entered college at the University of Akron in Ohio. There, she discovered a burgeoning interest in geography and anthropology. Although she had pivoted outside of healthcare, Hall thought this might provide another avenue to make a positive difference in people’s lives—through building healthier communities. So she earned her bachelor’s degree in geography and planning, followed by two master’s degrees in geography and planning, and public administration.

Hall interned for the city of Akron in the planning department. But her hopes of satisfying the desire to have a direct impact on people quickly faded.

“I realized I couldn’t effect nearly as much change as I thought,” says Hall.

She returned to school yet again and completed the accelerated nursing program her family had always wanted. Working as a nurse in the clinical setting, she had much more direct interaction in caring for people. But at the same time, the constant contact with practicing physicians only exacerbated her feeling of discontent.

“Every day I worked with physicians and saw how much of a difference their knowledge and expertise made in patients’ lives,” Hall says. “That’s what convinced me I wouldn’t be satisfied until I had my MD.”

"Don't Let Anyone Say You Can't Do It"

Now, with the support of her husband and children, Hall is continuing the journey she started long ago to become a physician. She is the recipient of the Eliza Ann Grier scholarship, offered to incoming first-semester students from under-represented minority groups in the field of medicine.

“Don’t let anyone say you can’t do it because of your age, who you are or where you come from,” says Hall. “If you have the desire and are willing to put in the effort, you can do it.”

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Tags: Scholarships , Ohio , Nurse

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