By: April Carson
Alena Analeigh Wicker is a pre-med high school student from Georgia who just became the youngest black person to be admitted to medical school at the age of 13.
She's not thinking about her age; she's just focusing on the potential impact she may have. She enrolled in two colleges at 12 to get two unrelated degrees. But, as far as I'm aware, no one has yet selected a college for her based on her potential influence.
"So, Alena," I said to her, "what's the definition of age?" during an interview with The Washington Post. “You're not too young to do anything. I feel I've shown myself that I can accomplish anything if I set my mind and heart to it.”
The brilliant young girl has always been a step ahead of her pals, but she doesn't consider herself to be too unusual.
"I'm just like any other teenager in the sense that I like to sleep and I enjoy spending time with my friends," she told The Huffington Post.
Alena said, "I'm still a typical 13-year-old." She likes going to the movies, playing soccer, making cakes, and spending time with her friends.
Alena is a college junior at two separate institutions: Arizona State University and Oakwood University, both located in Alabama. She is pursuing two distinct bachelor's degrees in biological science through mostly online courses at Arizona State University and Oakwood University.
She was inspired by her family, her professors and advisors, and she applied for early admission to the University of Alabama's Heersink School of Medicine in 2024. She was accepted into the program in May — even though she is more than 10 years younger than the average incoming med student.
Despite her age, Alena's chances of being accepted into a US medical school were already slim, with 7% of applicants being accepted and 7% of those being black students.
“Statistics would have stated that I never would have made it,” Alena wrote in an Instagram post announcing the good news last month. “I'm a little black girl who was adopted from Fontana, California. To accomplish my objectives and fulfill my aspirations has taken tremendous effort and dedication.”
She said, "Mama, I did it. I couldn't have done it without you. You provided me all the possibilities to succeed. You encouraged me when I was down and allowed me to eat Oreos when I was sad, never allowing me to relax, and disciplined me when I deserved it." She concluded by shouting out with joy: "I am going to be a doctor!"
“You have always believed in me. You allowed me to develop and learn from my mistakes, with the understanding that I would succeed. You gave me the opportunity to see what life is like outside of your home.”
“Alena was talented as a toddler,” her mother, Daphne McQuarter, told the Washington Post. “It was just how she went about things and how advanced she was. She was reading chapter books at three years old.”
Alena's mother made the decision to homeschool her for several years after her daughter was bullied for being a "smarty pants" in elementary school. When she returned to public school in the fifth grade, she continued taking higher-level courses via a curriculum developed by her mother, who also extended her workload during the coronavirus epidemic.
“I was bored,” Alena responded. “I graduated from high school at the age of 12 because the academic work was so simple for me.”
“I love school, learning, and reading,” Alena stated. “I've always had a hunger and desire to learn; that's just who I am.”
The committed student was especially interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) from a young age and was eventually scouted to be the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's youngest intern in 2021.
During her time at NASA, Alena completed a number of tasks, including remote research for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, California. After reading a news story about the emerging scientist, Clayton Turner, the director of the agency's Langley Research Center, recruited her as his apprentice.
“I'm so excited for her,” Turner exclaimed of Alena's acceptance to medical school. “What's in her is a desire to help others and bring them up.” She has received several accolades throughout her young life, including a finalist for Time's Top Kid of the Year 2022 award, but she continues to stay humble.
“There's always room for improvement,” she said in an interview. “I want to keep learning and better myself as a person and scientist.” Alena plans to eventually become a doctor and continue her research at NASA full time.
Alena decided that the best path to becoming a doctor by the age of 18 was to aim for it professionally.
“I knew right then that this is what I was supposed to be doing,” she recalled. “A key aspect of my mission is viral immunology and advocating for underrepresented communities that don't have access to medical care. It's something I've become interested in.”
She plans to graduate from college with her two bachelor's degrees by the spring of 2024, and medical school that fall.
Outside of school, Alena launched the Brown STEM Girl organization to encourage and assist young women of color in STEM fields.
“It's really exciting to be able to create a route for girls who look like me,” Alena agreed. “It doesn't matter how old you are. You can accomplish it. Don't let anybody tell you no.”
Alena has advice for other kids her age who are interested in college: “You should really go for it, even if people tell you that you're not smart enough or whatever. Just try your best.”'
Even though she’s only 13, Alena Analeigh Wicker is already a sophomore in college, and she plans to add two more degrees to her list before she turns 18.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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