With familial roots in Puerto Rico and Equatorial Guinea in West Africa, Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) student Teresa Colon-Asumu understands firsthand the privilege of the US healthcare system. She lived in Mozambique and other worldwide locations where she witnessed nongovernment organizations providing healthcare for citizens who would have otherwise endured long wait times for basic care. After Teresa completes her family medicine residency at her No. 1 match — Emory University, she pledges to give back to underprivileged communities by aiming to decrease social disparities, educating citizens on proper fitness and nutrition, and mentoring minorities about women’s healthcare.
“There’s not enough representation in healthcare to adequately improve health outcomes,” said the future doctor who also holds a master’s degree in public health to better understand all aspects of healthcare. “I want to help underserved patients develop healthy lifestyles. I also feel compelled to get involved with youth, so the next generation understands the importance of it.”
Just like having to adjust to life in Africa, Teresa quickly adapted to the rigors of medical school. “It was a heavy course load, but I used my tribe and my connections to figure out how to study and when to ask for help.” One person she’s always leaned on has been Mom. “She always told me I could do this and every semester, I gained more confidence.”
Teresa credited her RUSM experience for teaching her the importance of acclimating. “Studying on a boat after Hurricane Maria was a new one but now, I can study anywhere, and I don’t need it to be silent. That skillset will serve me well as a doctor. Everything in my life has gradually become better and it’s going to continue that way.”
For current and future Rossie students, the exercise fiend advises to never give up. “No matter what, this journey is hard, and we know that, but don’t stop. With discomfort comes change and you don’t know your potential unless you keep pushing forward. If you don’t have grit, how are you supposed to help influence patients through hard times? Take time to get to know who you are and play on your strengths. Just keep swimming.”
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