Student Profile: Akya Myrie
I was delivered at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and grew up here in Canarsie, Brooklyn NY. I hope to serve as a physician here in the future!
Where did you complete your undergraduate education? What did you study?
I attended Stony Brook University. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, concentrating in Emergency and Critical Care.
What inspired you to study medicine?
My mother immigrated from Jamaica in 1989 in a desperate search for improved medical care and a better quality of life for my profoundly mentally disabled brother. Keeping jobs proved daunting because it was difficult, as a single parent, to simultaneously attend to my brother’s needs and mine once I joined the picture 5 years later. Living in a medically underserved community did not make support for my brother’s epileptic condition any easier to come by. As a child, I spent a lot of time in local hospitals due to my brother’s condition. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. I knew that becoming a physician gave me the opportunity to help and save others in ways that are not possible through other careers. Despite the adversity my family faced, my mother, is now a practicing Physician Assistant and has been nothing short of an inspiration along my journey into Medicine.
Currently, I am highly interested in Gastroenterology. I aim to complete a fellowship in either transplant hepatology or transplant nephrology.
What were some of your struggles as a first-year and how did you overcome them?
I became heavily involved in the Downstate community and had to truly hone in on my time management skills. I am a RISE counselor (Hepatitis C/HIV screening) and a Junior Volunteer at the Brooklyn Free Clinic, a tour guide and peer to peer interviewer for the College of Medicine, a member of both the Health Advocacy Equity Leadership (HEAL) and the Urology-Nephrology Pathways, an instructor for the Arthur Ashe Institute Anatomy Day program, and I conducted a Neighborhood Diabetes Education Program. Most recently, I became the treasurer for the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). Balancing these roles alongside the rigorous medical curriculum here at SUNY Downstate is no easy task. However, with family support at home and a wonderful group of friends that uplift me on a daily basis, I learned to trust my abilities more than ever, despite the many breakdowns and speed bumps I had along the way. Success was inevitable.
How did it feel when you were awarded a scholarship supported by The Neighborhood Diabetes Education Program at the NMF Champions of Health Awards ceremony?
I was ecstatic!!! I was even more proud to learn that our very own President, Dr. Wayne J. Riley, is a distinguished alum of the organization and received a similar scholarship during his time in medical school. That confirmed for me that I was in the right place for my medical education, surrounded by true leaders and scholars. NMF will never truly know the impact that their organization has had on my life or on the lives of others. They have believed, supported, and invested in the future of medicine.
What are your hopes for your remaining years at SUNY Downstate?
I want to continue strengthening my knowledge of social determinants and health disparities in order to better serve my patients within our medically underserved community. This Summer I will be conducting obesity research with Dr. Carla Boutin-Foster, as well as assessing access to transplantation with Dr. Devon John. I hope that both of these opportunities allow me to better understand our clinical practices and how they affect our patients while preparing me for the challenging task of providing effective care to populations in an underserved area. My ultimate goal is to influence healthcare policies surrounding these practices.
Do you have any advice for the incoming first-years?
I would advise every incoming first-year to find a mentor early on and establish a great group of friends to hold you accountable. I believe these factors had an enormous impact on the many opportunities I was presented with throughout the year and truly helped direct my path. Furthermore, do not hesitate to walk up to someone you’re interested in networking with and introduce yourself, no matter how small you may feel at that very moment. These connections are vital to your success in medical school and your future careers.