Of the more than 62,000 students who applied to medical school in the U.S. in 2021, less than 40% were accepted. And the number of Black first-year med students is only 2,562. But 13-year-old Alena Analeigh Wicker, who was accepted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Heersink School of Medicine, is making history by becoming the youngest Black person ever to get accepted into medical school in the U.S.
Alena posted to her Facebook page about the accomplishment in June:
In her profile photo, she’s wearing a white doctor’s coat — apparently ready to take on the role!
The prodigy, who was homeschooled, graduated high school in 2021. She started classes at Arizona State University (ASU) that summer with the goal of becoming a NASA engineer. She completed more than half of her undergraduate requirements in one year by taking full course loads at ASU and Oakwood University.
“I really want to leave my mark on the world. And lead a group of girls that know what they can do,” Alena told 12 News.
However, somewhere between a course she completed, a trip to Jordan and her The Brown STEM Girl Foundation, a scholarship program she founded for girls of color, she changed her mind.
“It actually took one class in engineering for me to say this is kind of not where I wanted to go,” she told 12 News. “I think viral immunology really came from my passion for volunteering and going out there engaging with the world.”
Alena’s story is remarkable, but she has made friends marking their own firsts. She recently shared a photo of herself (at right) with her friend Haley Taylor Schlitz, who, at 19, became the nation’s youngest Black law school graduate.
“I’m so thankful for people around me that I can always learn from and that get it,” Alena wrote in the Facebook post. “I’m always working on a better version of me.”
Alena was accepted to UAB’s Heersink School of Medicine under its Burroughs Wellcome Scholars Early Assurance Program in May. If all goes according to Alena’s plans, she will become a doctor by age 18.
“I’m creating a platform for every little girl of color that has a passion for STEM AND EVERY GIRL that was ever told she couldn’t,” Alena wrote on Instagram. “I’m proof you can!”