You may have heard the phrase, â€œTinker, tailor, soldier, spy,â€ but our version is â€œScholar, athlete, musician, leaderâ€ and describes the many facets of Johna, a LEDA Cohort 13 Scholar and junior at Colgate University. He is currently on campus attending a mix of in-person and online classes, and his hope for the school year is â€œto be well and to see my wellness is reflected in my grades, my experiences, and my growth. When I need that extra push, I think of my mother, I think of medical school, and I think about the communities of color I hope to serve as a physician one day.â€
The current pandemic remains a looming concern, â€œencroaching on every aspect of my wellness,â€ in his words. During the summer, he was unable to see his family, who currently live in Italy, and was one of the few students remaining on campus. â€œBeing on campus alone for the summer was challenging, and having people come back [in the fall] was a blessing,â€ he shared. Nevertheless, he expressed a strong sense of gratitude for the resources that Colgate has been able to provide, as well as a sense of perspective on adapting to a new normal. â€œAs an athlete, adjusting to exercise in masks, team meetings over Zoom, and weightlifting with no one to spot me all paled in comparison to the adjustments Iâ€™ve already made in other areas of my life.â€
Johna made the most of his time on the quiet summer campus by volunteering at a local ambulance corps, training for track and field five days a week, studying for the MCAT, taking an advanced math course, and starting to produce an album. His proudest summer accomplishment is founding an organization called Pre-Health Pathways (Instagram: @colgatephp). Now serving over 240 members, PHP focuses on streamlining resources to make the pre-health journey more accessible and on providing education about health disparities to promote more informed practice in healthcare careers. His goal is to help PHP â€œbloom into a robust program with engaged members who feel that they have a voice within our structure.â€
This semester, whether itâ€™s preparing to apply to medical school, representing the Colgate Raiders in track & field, diligently working on his guitar skills (and an album), or organizing resources and networking for fellow students interested in healthcare careers, Johna pursues his goals with a steady hand and a desire to make a positive impact. Click the video below for a day-in-the-life glimpse:
Johna hopes organizations like LEDA that support under-resourced students continue to help address the systemic disparities they face for remote learning. However, he also strongly encourages high school students to apply for the LEDA Scholars Program (deadline: December 14, 2020), irrespective of whether next yearâ€™s Summer Institute is on campus or virtual. â€œIf you have the opportunity for a meaningful experience, take it,â€ he said. â€œThere are only a handful out there, and LEDA is something you definitely donâ€™t want to miss out on.â€
As we begin to approach the end of 2020, stay tuned for a look back on what LEDA has learned and experienced in a unique year.
Published November 18, 2020