Aspiring to become chief resident before starting an internal medicine residency with her No. 1 Match program — Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) student Sheri Walls is loaded with gumption. And she is eager to give back to the community who supported her through the toughest of times.
“The number of trials and tribulations I’ve gone through has made me who I am today,” she said, recounting the unexpected gap year between undergrad and medical school. “I was fresh out of college, with a degree, finished an internship, no job and no money, waiting to get into medical school. I had to move back home but even with that, I never gave up on my dream of becoming a physician.”
Preparing for the long haul, the video game enthusiast took her medical college admission test (MCAT) and worked two jobs — research assistant for a university neurology department during the day and hospital emergency room medical scribe at night. “Some days I had to take a shower at the campus gym, sleep in my car for two or three hours before my night shift and then go right back to growing neurons. I was hungry for it and I wanted to do anything and everything to make sure I did not lose focus on my ultimate goal. Nothing and no one were going to stop me.”
Even during match week, when Sheri would find out her future residency program, she didn’t sit still. Dressed in scrubs, she headed to her gastroenterology elective until the fellows told her to boot up the computer. “My stomach continued to turn, and I was breathing like I was in labor — two seconds from having a panic attack,” she said about the wait. Then the news came in and she breathed a sigh of relief knowing it was all worth it.
At 12 years old, Sheri shadowed the obstetrician-gynecologist caring for her mother who was pregnant with her brother. She then volunteered in the pediatric unit from 13 to 16 years old. “I would help get kids to the right place, talk with the parents and make sure patients were calm in the waiting room. I knew then that I was going to medical school.”
Sheri chose internal medicine because of the variety of cases and team collaboration, an approach she honed during her participation on various sports teams. Born in Hawaii, Sheri and her family followed her dad’s military career, living in Colorado, Texas, Michigan, Tennessee, Houston and now Memphis.
In the future, Sheri hopes to educate high schoolers about the importance of increasing Black representation in medicine. For now, she praises RUSM leaders for believing in her when others did not. “They gave me the opportunity to become a physician. When you’re young, you have no idea what school to go to, how you’re going to get there or when you’ll become a physician. I kept going and I was blessed that I found the support and community of RUSM. Medicine is a journey, and your journey may differ from others but if you stay true to yourself and never stop believing, then it doesn’t matter what obstacles come in your way.”
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