- Name: Christel Wekon-Kemeni
- School: Wake Forest School of Medicine
- Previous University: University of Miami
- Degree: B.S. in Microbiology & Immunology
- Specialty (if you know or what you are interested in): My primary interest is in Ophthalmology, but I’m still keeping an open mind!
- Social media/blog:
- Blog: BlackManMD.com
- Facebook: Christel Wekon-Kemeni
- Instagram & Twitter: @afrikan_wekon
- In a nutshell, what inspired you to pursue medicine?
Early on in high school, I had decided that I wanted to pursue the field of optometry. I had come to that decision because of the fact that I’ve dealt with vision issues my whole life, receiving my first pair of glasses at the age of 10 after suffering declining vision for three years. I also believe that the sense of vision is hugely taken for granted, and I realize how important it is to protect your vision in order to sustain a good quality of life. My mother, who was always pushing me to be better than I believed myself to be, started telling me about how there was a more advanced field of eye care called ophthalmology where I could take a step further in protecting the vision of patients by performing surgery and how I needed to go through medical school and residency to get there. After many attempts of trying to convince me, I began to become comfortable with the idea of going to medical school. However, any doubts I had about going to medical school were extinguished in my junior year of high school after helplessly watching as my father suffered from a cerebral malaria infection after visiting Cameroon. That scary experience forced me to open my eyes to how incredible medicine really is and it also cemented my decision in pursuing a career in medicine. Now that I’m in medical school, I’ve been able to further appreciate other fields of medicine, allowing me to keep an open mind about which specialty I’ll eventually embark upon, something I wouldn’t have been able to if I had stuck to my initial decision of pursuing optometry.
- Why do you feel that there is a need for diversity in medicine and how do you hope to help this change in the future?
I’m a very strong believer in the power of representation. With that said, I believe that an increase in the number of minority health professionals will prove to bring about an increase in the number of minority pre-health students looking to enter the field of medicine. Having a higher number of underrepresented professionals working in the medical field will also help to break the negative stereotypes associated with minority groups as well as help shift the unconscious biases that a disturbing number of people in this country have of minority populations. Furthermore, I believe that having a diverse workforce is essential to providing excellent healthcare to the diverse patient populations who make up the communities of both this country and this world. Simply put, more diversity in the healthcare workforce leads to an improved quality of care for a wider range of patients and better health outcomes overall. I hope to help increase diversity in medicine by continuing to serve as an online presence for minority students, especially minority males, interested in healthcare and by continuing to serve as a mentor to pre-health students. In the future, I want to be able to increase diversity in the medical field by expanding my blog in some way and by continuing to mentor minority students interested in the medical field. I also hope to find a way to help expose minority children to medicine in a fun and interactive way while they’re still young and to maybe even explore creating entertaining media centered on the field of medicine.
- What is one thing you wish you could change about medicine?
There are a number of things that I would love to change about medicine if I had the power to effectively do so. However, if I only had the power to change one thing about medicine, I guess it would be to give everyone in this world affordable and readily accessible preventive care from primary care health professionals. More preventive care to all populations, especially populations of a lower socioeconomic status, would surely play a role in reducing health disparities and would make the world a healthier, and potentially more prosperous, place. Pretty ambitious request I know, but why not shoot for the stars?
- Who do look you look up to in medicine/life, who are some of your mentors, or people that you would consider your #goals and why?
I have quite a number of people I look up to for various reasons! These people include my own parents, Jesus Christ, President Barack Obama, Kendrick Lamar, Shawn Carter, Sean Combs, Will Smith, Gandhi, and a number of other people in my life who have had a great impact on the way I live my life, such as other health care professionals, faculty members at my medical school as well as at my undergraduate institution, and other influential authors and businessmen that I’ve come across. All of these people have expressed perseverance, ambition and dedication in their lives. They have all also pushed themselves and others around them to be the best versions of themselves that they can be, which is something I strive to do on a daily basis.