July STEM Showcase - Mikaela Williams Interview
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself
A: My name is Mikaela and I just finished my first year of medical school in Bradenton, FL. I graduated college in 2018 from USF with a degree in Biomedical Science and spent a gap year working as a personal trainer before medical school. I love anything outdoors and fitness related but also enjoy just relaxing with a good movie or trying out a new coffee shop or restaurant when I have some free time.
Q: What is the earliest recollection you have of wanting to pursue medicine and who do you think helped guide you towards this decision?
A: As cliche as it sounds, I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else besides be a physician. Before I realized I wanted to be a clinician, my childhood dream was basically to be Abby from NCIS which I later realized was still pretty close (an interesting dream for an 8 year-old, I know). I first realized that beyond being a physician I also wanted to serve in underserved and rural communities in some capacity when I took a trip to the Dominican Republic in 2011 and again to Arizona in 2018. Travelling definitely broadened my vision of all of the places still in need of more healthcare professionals. Q: How do you believe we can inspire more young girls to pursue STEM and specifically, what advice do you have for those looking to pursue medicine?
A: I firmly believe STEM is not just for men and women have a gifting for this space as well. Start young- it’s never too early to start taking classes in the STEM field especially if you want to pursue medicine. Don’t get discouraged if the classes start to get harder and you start to see less girls- 50% of current medical students are currently female; if you want it, it’s possible! Q: What do you love most about your field of study?
A: I think the human body is the coolest and most fascinating thing in the entire world and I love getting to learn such intricate details about it. I also really enjoy helping, teaching, and working with all kinds of people so I felt like going into medicine was a great combination of everything. Q: What challenges have you faced throughout your journey and what coping mechanisms have you/ and do you rely on to overcome these difficulties?
A: I definitely let comparison and my “perfectionistic” tendencies control a lot of my life for most of my teenage years. While it helped me succeed in some ways, it also hurt my mental health a lot. Growing in my faith helped with this immensely but I’m still always a work in progress. I’m also definitely not super smart naturally and I do have to work REALLY hard. It took lots of trial and error to find what worked for me both on the entrance exam to get into medical school and even more once I started. Remembering that if I just put in the work I will succeed and also making sure I take time to care for myself and rest helped me a lot in getting to where I am today.
Q: Has mentorship played a role in your journey? If so, how?
A: I had several physician mentors once I got in college who I went to for questions pretty often. To be honest though, I didn’t have a lot of people around me growing up who were in the medical field or planning on going to medical school so I had to figure a lot of that out by myself. I sought out lots of other medical school Youtubers and Blogs to learn what I didn’t know which is why I’m pretty open about sharing my journey now to hopefully help other people like they helped me.
Q: What has been your biggest achievement to date?
A: Honestly, just getting into and being in medical school has been my biggest achievement so far I think. I know that it’s only because of the long nights and hours I put in for years before and I’m so proud of myself for that! I did also graduate #2 in my class in high school while also being the captain of a sports team which I guess is kind of cool to look back on too!