W&L Outcomes: Leah Jackson ’22 Leah Jackson ’22 always knew she wanted to pursue the health field. Thanks to summer internships and dedication, she heads off to Harvard this fall to follow her passion.
- Hometown: Savannah, Georgia
- Post-Grad Plans: Master of Science in Media, Medicine and Health at Harvard Medical School in Boston
- Industry: Healthcare
- Areas of Study: Biology, Film and Visual Culture
“I am entering a program that I never knew existed months ago, and it is a perfect fit for my interest and career goals! Be creative about uniting your unique skills and interests.” ~ Leah Jackson ’22
Q: What are you doing now that you have graduated?
This upcoming year, I am earning my master of science in media, medicine and health at Harvard Medical School. Currently, I am applying to medical programs to begin the following year.
Q: What internships or other summer experiences did you partake in and how did those experiences shape you and your career plans?
I always knew I wanted to pursue the health field, so I engaged in related positions during the summer. During my first summer, I worked at a pediatric center. I took this opportunity because I enjoyed caretaking for younger relatives and neighbors and wanted to give back to the center where I was once a patient. I realized my capacity to have a lasting, positive and holistic impact on young patients by promoting healthy habits.
During my second summer, I researched with Helen I’Anson, John T. Perry Professor of Biology and Research Science, to discover how snacking leads to obesity and related diseases. Importantly, our weaning to adult female rat model addressed the lack of information on girls and young women. I appreciated working with peers from multiple disciplines as we investigated multiple systems in concert, which honed my critical thinking on how the systems work together. The constant evolution of medical knowledge always excites me. My enthusiasm for how complex biological systems translate into our experiences grew, and it compelled my continuous learning.
Additionally, I researched how widespread diseases exacerbate disparities for disabled individuals that same summer. It furthered my understanding of how society and biology connect to contribute to health outcomes. I learned how to listen to others, identify problems, develop questions and take measures against health barriers. It significantly prepared me to serve diverse communities. I also worked at a local health center as a COVID-19 screener and tester to directly help my hometown during the pandemic.
In my third summer, I assisted psychiatric care. I traveled to meet patients in hospitals, offices, jails and homes, and collaborated with professionals in all areas of the patients’ lives. I explored many care levels – from outpatient to residential – and this experience considerably increased my interest in entering the field of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Q: How did Career Development support you and which resources did you find most helpful?
I met with Career Development to look for jobs and other opportunities. It was instrumental in helping me determine my specific interests. When it came time to apply to my master’s program and medical schools, Molly Steele, director of Career and Professional Development, helped me in the writing process and perfecting my applications.
Q: What did you study at W&L, and what are some skills or learnings you will take from your academic experience into the professional world?
I was a biology major and a film and visual culture minor. Many people do not immediately recognize how the film and visual culture minor prepares someone for a career in health. One foundation of the minor is transferring information to audiences. It improved my communication skills; I often use them to help others understand why and how to care for their health. For example, I help patients and their families feel comfortable during intimidating appointments by clearly explaining conditions, treatments, procedures and medications in ways they understand. Another example: for a class project, I created a film explaining the discovery of Vitamin D and a few of its roles in the human system. Thanks to its visuals, the film is clear to all audiences despite being heavy with scientific terms and mechanisms. I further aspire to communicate health information in unique ways to diverse audiences.
What career-related advice would you give to next year’s graduating class?
This year, I am entering a program that I never knew existed months ago, and it is a perfect fit for my interest and career goals! Be creative about uniting your unique skills and interests. Never be afraid to take a different path than your peers or predecessors, and never stop.
Read more about other W&L Outcomes here.
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