Your dreams. Our mission.
“MassBay has been really good for me. I could easily be going to a college that’s closer to home, but I like this school. I
enjoy the diversity, and the professors really care. They care about your future, and they want you to learn the materials – not just pass the course.”
Age: Undisclosed – “I want people to know it's about the individual and that age doesn't play a factor.”
– John Brown
Interest: Associate Degree in Sociology/Psychology/Anthropology
“I was a doubter,” John Brown admits, “People shun the idea of going to a community college – put a label on anything below Harvard or Yale. But school is school, and how focused you stay, how hard you work make the difference. People might think you have limits, but it’s your own hands that do the work, and that’s how you mold your own future.”
It is clear that John Brown has stayed focused and worked hard over the years, staying true to his dream of becoming a medical doctor. “I think there’s a cultural handicap in the medical field,” he says. “Doctors should be well-rounded. They need to be empathetic and sympathetic so they can help their patients. I am immersed in medical terminology, and I think it’s fascinating. But I also think it’s important to see more young black men in the field of medicine.”
John didn’t come to college right away after graduating from Brighton High School in 2001. He had been a dancer for years, and he had parlayed his passion and talent into performing and teaching hip-hop and ballet to children at a youth center. He was making money and enjoying it, but he had people reminding him that dancing wasn’t going to last forever. “We all age,” he notes with a smile.
He had always been torn between dancing and medicine as a career path. “I’ve always enjoyed academic work, and people kept telling me I was well-suited for it,” he says. In the fall of 2012, he decided to give college a try.
“I chose MassBay because when I looked at the website I saw a lot of good opportunities. They sell the school very well. I easily found transfer opportunities, and everything was just clear and precise. And then I went to the SOAR orientation, which was very informative. It all got me excited about getting back into the process of being back in school again,” he says.
John’s parents emigrated from Jamaica, and John says “they worked really hard, but they never finished high school or college,” so he says he didn’t get the push from home to go to college. “I didn’t really know how to go about getting into college,” he says.
Now, he is the first in his family attending college with his sights set firmly on a career as a medical doctor. He has taken one very important step while on the MassBay campus: applying for the prestigious Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP). Funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the mission of the SMDEP is to increase the acceptance rates of medical school applicants from racial and ethnic minority groups who are underrepresented in the field of medicine. Now offering programs in 12 medical schools around the nation, SMDEP has become a premier training ground for interested students.
“There are really three locations that people say are the toughest to get into,” says John, “I honestly doubted myself, but I decided to select the three most competitive sites: Columbia University, Harvard and Yale.” On February 28, 2014, John was notified that he was accepted to the Yale program.
“You basically live the life of a medical student for eight weeks,” he explains. “You live in dorms, rise at 6:00 am, and you work until 7:00 pm. There are three rotations, including OBGYN, which is my area of focus, so it’s really perfect for me.”
“This is going to help me do things and prepare for the career I’m embarking on in ways I couldn’t otherwise do,” he continues. “Being at Yale this summer will make me better, stronger, and wiser. I am really looking forward to the medical aspect, but also for the chance to cultivate relationships. I want to learn things I’ll never forget.”
With the exciting summer on the horizon, John remains focused on his five courses and his full-time job as a Unit Coordinator in the Antepartum Unit at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. He’s also involved in the Young Men of Color club on the MassBay campus, engaging in discussions ranging from “fundraising and fellowship to encouraging and empowering each other,” he says.
He also finds time to dance: “It’s my form of release. The weeks are stressful, so dancing is `me’ time,” he says.
“MassBay has been really good for me,” says John. “I could easily be going to a college that’s closer to home, but I like this school. I enjoy the diversity, and the professors really care. They care about your future, and they want you to learn the materials – not just pass the course.”
John also appreciates the advising he’s receiving at MassBay. “Things flow smoothly here. People like me who work full-time and go to school full-time – having the right people help you navigate things is important,” he says. “Lots of us come to college with no sense of direction. It’s really very helpful to have the guidance of people to get you going in the right direction.”
Still in the process of looking at four-year institutions, John is taking courses with credits that will transfer. He is looking at B.U., Northeastern, and UMass for pre-med. “I want to choose a program that’s right for me,” he says.
For now, John Brown is focused on schoolwork, helping in his community, and envisioning a rewarding career as a medical doctor. “Patients need your trust. Having someone’s life in your hands is a huge thing.”
John Brown is scheduled to graduate MassBay with an Associate Degree in Sociology/Psychology/Anthropology in the fall of 2014. He will spend the summer of 2014 on the campus of Yale University as part of the prestigious Summer Medical and Dental Education Program. He intends to transfer his MassBay credits to a four-year institution to study pre-med with an ultimate goal of becoming a medical doctor.