Alena Analeigh Wicker, 13, simply obtained accepted to medical faculty


Alena Analeigh Wicker is like different 13-year-olds in that she enjoys going to the films, taking part in soccer, baking and hanging out with mates. However very a lot not like different youngsters, she simply obtained accepted to medical faculty.

“I’m nonetheless a standard 13-year-old,” mentioned Alena, a pupil at each Arizona State College and Oakwood College, the place she is concurrently incomes two separate undergraduate levels in organic sciences. “I simply have extraordinarily good time administration abilities and I’m very disciplined.”

In Could, Alena was provided a spot on the College of Alabama’s Heersink College of Drugs for 2024, as a part of its Early Assurance Program — which provides early admission to candidates who meet particular necessities. Alena is greater than 10 years youthful than the common incoming medical pupil.

“What’s age?” mentioned Alena, who lives simply outdoors Fort Value and is finishing most of her programs on-line. “You’re not too younger to do something. I really feel like I’ve confirmed to myself that I can do something that I put my coronary heart and thoughts to.”

When Alena was 3 years previous, her mom began noticing that she was removed from a typical toddler.

“Alena was gifted,” mentioned her mom, Daphne McQuarter. “It was simply how she did issues and the way superior she was. She was studying chapter books.”

One roommate is 85, the opposite is 27. Such preparations are rising.

Studying new abilities, Alena mentioned, got here simply to her, and as soon as she began faculty, she was generally taunted for her scholastic skills.

“There was slightly boy that bullied me, and he would tease me and name me ‘smarty pants,’” Alena recalled, including that her mom determined to home-school her for a number of years after the bullying began.

In fifth grade, she switched again to conventional education, although she continued to take superior excessive school-level programs at house, utilizing a curriculum her mom created. Throughout the pandemic, Alena determined to broaden her course load much more.

For Alena, algebra was straightforward. Geometry was intuitive. Biology was a breeze.

“I used to be bored,” mentioned Alena, who just lately began utilizing her center identify, Analeigh, as her surname. “The highschool work was really easy for me that I ended up graduating from highschool at 12 years previous.”

Taking additional courses, Alena mentioned, was extra of a pleasure than a ache. She flew via Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Males.” So far as schoolwork went, none of it was a battle.

“I really like faculty, I really like studying, I really like studying,” Alena mentioned, including that from a younger age, she has had a specific curiosity in STEM — science, expertise, engineering and math.

Bystander rescues 4 youngsters from fireplace, then jumps out window to avoid wasting a fifth

On high of her devotion to schoolwork, Alena can be a budding entrepreneur and philanthropist. A few yr and a half in the past, she began the Brown STEM Lady — a corporation aimed toward offering alternatives for ladies of colour serious about exploring careers in STEM.

In keeping with the Nationwide Science Board, ladies make up 28 p.c of the science and engineering workforce, and of them, solely about 5 p.c are ladies of colour. Alena is on a mission to vary that.

“We’re displaying the world that there’s different ladies on the market which might be similar to me, and so they deserve a possibility and an opportunity,” mentioned Alena, explaining that her group has a rigorous utility course of and provides monetary scholarships, mentorship packages and extra sources to standout college students. There are greater than 460 lively members and about 2,000 ladies on a ready checklist, Alena mentioned, including that the group is funded via non-public donations.

She needed to create a platform for ladies like her “to really feel like they belong someplace,” she mentioned. “I symbolize all of the brainiac ladies on the earth.”

The Brown STEM Lady is just not Alena’s first extracurricular endeavor. She has been doing talking engagements for years, she mentioned, and she or he has acquired quite a few honors and awards all through her life. Just lately, she was named one among Time’s Prime Child of the Yr Finalists for 2022.

Out strolling her canines, she discovered an Olympic gold medal on the bottom

Whereas attempting to maintain up with mates and common childhood actions, Alena has stayed laser-focused on her tutorial {and professional} objectives.

“I’ve a starvation and need to be taught, and that’s simply at all times been me,” mentioned Alena.

She grew to become NASA’s youngest intern in the summertime of 2021 — which was a long-held dream.

Final yr, Clayton Turner, the director of the company’s Langley Analysis Heart, got here throughout a information story about Alena — then a 12-year-old who was headed to school and who hoped sooner or later to work at NASA. He determined to succeed in out.

“I couldn’t be extra proud,” mentioned Turner, who grew to become Alena’s mentor and obtained her an internship on the company, the place she did varied assignments, together with distant analysis for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, Calif., which she visited throughout her internship. “Alena is a kind of distinctive intellects.”

Past her brains, what actually units her aside, Turner mentioned, is her coronary heart.

“What’s in her is wanting to assist others, eager to elevate up others,” he mentioned.

Though Alena was initially keen to begin a profession in engineering, after delving additional into the sphere via her undergraduate courses, she determined to vary course and pursue drugs.

“I wasted no time. I dropped a category, modified my main, and once I took my first organic class, I knew in that second that that is what I’m presupposed to be doing,” she mentioned.

Her purpose, she continued, is to make use of her medical diploma to assist these in want.

“A giant a part of what I need to do is viral immunology, and I need to advocate for underrepresented communities that lack well being care,” Alena mentioned. “It’s one thing that I’ve grow to be enthusiastic about.”

Her educators and advisers inspired her to use for early acceptance to medical faculty.

“They’ve been vastly instrumental,” Alena mentioned.

As a soldier, he escaped Nazi captors. At 97, he lastly obtained his medals.

One such mentor is Elaine Vanterpool, chair of the biology division at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Ala. Though Alena takes most of her courses on-line, she has hung out on campus finishing labs.

“She has a whole lot of expertise,” mentioned Vanterpool, who taught Alena’s normal biology class. As her professor, “I actually noticed the drive and grit. She did effectively. She didn’t accept lower than what she is aware of she’s able to.”

Vanterpool and different tutorial advisers inspired Alena to use for medical faculty, however she knew the possibilities of getting accepted had been slim — particularly as a 13-year-old Black lady. The typical acceptance fee at U.S. medical colleges is 7 p.c, and about 7 p.c of these accepted are Black.

“Statistics would have mentioned I by no means would have made it,” Alena wrote in an Instagram put up to her 18,000 followers about her latest acceptance to medical faculty.

Her success, Alena mentioned, is owed largely to her mom.

“My mother is wonderful. She gave me alternatives greater than issues,” mentioned Alena, who has a 24-year-old sister. “She taught me to suppose past and see past. For me, that was one of the best expertise.”

“We’ve had such an incredible relationship as a result of I at all times gave her the area to be a child, develop, make errors and be taught,” mentioned McQuarter. “She knew she at all times had a voice in something, together with her schooling.”

Folks usually inform Alena she is rising up too quick. To that, she responds: “I don’t suppose I’m lacking any a part of my childhood. I get a childhood, and it’s wonderful.”

In her spare time, Alena performs sports activities — together with soccer and monitor and area — and she or he loves going to the arcade with mates. She additionally enjoys singing, cooking and journey.

By means of fostering her tutorial {and professional} ambitions early on, Alena hopes to function an inspiration to others, and to show that somebody’s age shouldn’t stand in the best way of their success.

“I might say to any little lady on the market that’s studying this: By no means quit on you, by no means let somebody let you know you can’t do one thing,” Alena mentioned.

She is anticipated to finish her two undergraduate levels by the spring of 2024, and she’s going to begin medical faculty that fall.

“I don’t suppose it’s going to be straightforward, however I’ve an enormous help system round me that pushes me and cheers me on,” Alena mentioned.

By means of all of it, she plans to proceed advocating for different younger people who find themselves filled with untapped potential.

“It feels wonderful to have the ability to create a path for ladies that seem like me,” Alena mentioned. “It doesn’t matter how previous you might be. You are able to do it. Don’t let anyone let you know no.”

An earlier model of this story mentioned that Alena is a broadcast writer. The road has been eliminated at her mom’s request.

Have a narrative for Impressed Life? Right here’s how one can submit.