13-year-old girl accepted to medical school as she finishes TWO degrees she is already undertaking

13-year-old girl accepted to medical school as she finishes TWO degrees she is already undertaking 2
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A 13-year-old girl was accepted to medical school, all while wrapping up a pair of undergraduate degrees from two different universities and graduating from high school a year ago.

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Alena Analeigh Wicker was accepted into the University of Alabama’s Heersink School of Medicine class of 2024 in June, despite being over 10 years younger than the average medical student.

Her acceptance comes as she continues working through her degrees in the biological sciences degrees at both Oakwood University and Arizona State University, and makes her the youngest black student to be accepted to medical school.

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‘What is age?’ Alena told The Washington Post, ‘You’re not too young to do anything. I feel like I have proven to myself that I can do anything that I put my heart and mind to.’

Alena hard at work in the lab. She is currently completing a pair of biological science degrees from two universities

Alena hard at work in the lab. She is currently completing a pair of biological science degrees from two universities

Alena Analeigh Wicker, 13, was accepted into the University of Alabama's Heersink School of Medicine class of 2024

Alena at her high school graduation alongside Clayton Turner (left), director of NASA's Langley Research Center

Alena at her high school graduation alongside Clayton Turner (left), director of NASA’s Langley Research Center

Alena lives outside of Fort Worth, Texas, and does most of her coursework online. 

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She is also the founder of the organization Brown STEM Girl, which strives to help girls of color explore futures in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

‘We’re showing the world that there’s other girls out there that are just like me, and they deserve an opportunity and a chance,’ Alena said of the program.

Brown STEM Girl currently has 460 members and a wait list of about 2,000 girls. It connects girls with mentors, provides financial scholarships, and academic resources.

It is unclear if Alena will be using any of those scholarships to help her pay for medical school tuition and fees, which cost just over $400,000 at the University of Alabama. 

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Alena was adopted by her mother, Daphne McQuarter, who said she knew from an early age that her daughter was different.

‘Alena was gifted,’ McQuarter explained, saying she knew Alena was special as early as three-years-old, ‘It was just how she did things and how advanced she was. She was reading chapter books.’

She flew threw schoolwork, and was so intelligent in her early years that her mother had to home-school her to avoid the bullying from kids who called her things like ‘smarty pants.’

By the fifth grade though she returned to the classroom, but instead of studying the typical ten-year-old fare she focused on an advanced high school curriculum.  

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‘I was bored,’ Alena said, ‘The high school work was so easy for me that I ended up graduating from high school at 12 years old.’

University of Alabama 's Heersink School of Medicine. Alena was accepted to join the class of 2024

University of Alabama ‘s Heersink School of Medicine. Alena was accepted to join the class of 2024

Alena at her high school graduation at the age of 12 in 2021. She was accepted to medical school a year later

Alena alongside DeSoto, Texas, mayor Rachel Proctor (right) who is a wearing a sweatshirt from Alena's organization, Brown STEM Girl

Alena at her high school graduation at the age of 12 in 2021. She was accepted to medical school a year later

The prodigy also became NASA’s youngest intern last summer, back when she thought she wanted to pursue engineering.

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Alena's rise to medical school glory is akin to that of Doogie Howser, the fictional subject of the 1989 sitcom Doogie Howser M.D., which stars Neil Patrick Harris as pubescent doctor balancing the rigors of a regular teenage life. The show was cancelled after four seasons to due low ratings

Alena’s rise to medical school glory is akin to that of Doogie Howser, the fictional subject of the 1989 sitcom Doogie Howser M.D., which stars Neil Patrick Harris as pubescent doctor balancing the rigors of a regular teenage life. The show was cancelled after four seasons to due low ratings

Clayton Turner, director of NASA’s Langley Research Center, hired Alena after coming across a news story about her in which she said she dreamed of working for NASA.

‘Alena is one of those exceptional intellects,’ he said, but clarified her mind wasn’t the only thing that made her stand out, ‘What’s in her is wanting to help others, wanting to lift up others.’

Turner stood onstage at Alena’s high school graduation and helped hand over her diploma.

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Alena told Ebony magazine that she decided to move away from engineering after just one class on the subject, and she was inspired to focus on medicine after a trip to Jordan she took with Brown STEM Girl.

‘It actually took one class in engineering, for me to say this is kind of not where I wanted to go,’ Alena said, ‘I think viral immunology really came from my passion for volunteering and going out there engaging with the world.’

‘What I want from healthcare is to really show these underrepresented communities that we can help, that we can find cures for these viruses.’

She told the Washington Post that she knew biology was the path for her after just one class. 

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‘I wasted no time. I dropped a class, changed my major, and when I took my first biological class, I knew in that moment that this is what I’m supposed to be doing,’ Alena said. 

Alena Analeigh Wicker, 13, (right) was accepted into the University of Alabama's Heersink School of Medicine class of 2024

Alena Analeigh Wicker, 13, (right) was accepted into the University of Alabama’s Heersink School of Medicine class of 2024

Alena is in many ways a normal girl. She is a Lego fanatic, posting many of her building projects on her Instagram account, and says she loves cooking, singing, going to arcades with friends, and playing soccer

Alena is in many ways a normal girl. She is a Lego fanatic, posting many of her building projects on her Instagram account, and says she loves cooking, singing, going to arcades with friends, and playing soccer

At Oakwood University she became close with biology department chair Elaine Vanterpool, who she things of as a mentor, saying she and her other teachers have been ‘hugely instrumental.’

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‘She has a lot of talent,’ Vanterpool said of Alena, ‘I really saw the drive and grit. She did well. She didn’t settle for less than what she knows she’s capable of.

Alena said that she wants to focus on viral immunology, and help bring health care to those who don’t have access to it.

‘A big part of what I want to do is viral immunology, and I want to advocate for underrepresented communities that lack health care,’ Alena told The Washington Post, ‘It’s something that I’ve become passionate about.’

She received her acceptance as a part of Heersink School of Medicine’s Early Assurance Program, which despite its title and Alena’s circumstance has nothing to do with accepting young applicants.

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Instead, it is a highly selective and rigorous early acceptance program available for people who demonstrate a dedicated desire to enter the medical field. 

She is due to complete her undergraduate degrees in the spring of 2024, and will begin medical school that fall. 

She hopes that by 18 she will be a doctor. 

Alena takes a power nap while working her way through some figures and calculations

Alena takes a power nap while working her way through some figures and calculations

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Alena alognside Elaine Vanterpool, biology department chair at Oakwood University

Alena alognside Elaine Vanterpool, biology department chair at Oakwood University

In an Instagram post announcing her acceptance, she thanked her mother for her accomplishments.

‘Mama I made it. I couldn’t have done it without you,’ Alena wrote, ‘You gave me every opportunity possible to be successful. You cheered me on, wiped my tears, gave me oreos when I needed comfort, you never allowed me to settle, disciplined me when I needed . You are the best mother a kid could ever ask for.’

Alena noted how slim her chances were of getting in to medical school, where the average acceptance rate is seven per cent, and only around seven per cent of those are black.

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‘Statistics would have said I never would have made it. A little black girl adopted from Fontana California. I’ve worked so hard to reach my goals and live my dreams,’ she wrote in the post.

To people who say she is missing out on her childhood, Alena couldn’t agree less.

‘I don’t think I’m missing any part of my childhood. I get a childhood, and it’s amazing.’

Alena is a Lego fanatic, posting many of her building projects on her Instagram account, and says she loves cooking, singing, going to arcades with friends, and playing soccer. 

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Despite her mounting degrees, Alena says her success all comes down to focus. 

‘I just have extremely good time management skills and I’m very disciplined.’

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