Achieving the Dream

A teen standing at a podium, wearing a pink shirt, speaking. A young man, wearing glasses and a red shirt, standing outside and looking over the horizon. A young man pointing at a book he holds and woman, standing outside and laughing. A man with a stethoscope looks down at a patient while a teenage boy holds the patient’s wrist taking the pulse. A teen wearing a pink shirt accepts a certificate from a group of three women and one man. A smiling young man wearing a red shirt stands between church pews.
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Achieving the Dream

Rural Medical and Science Scholars program inspires Delta native’s career choice 

Story by Leah Barbour • Photos by Kevin Hudson and submitted

When Carey Williams decides he’s going to do something, he relies on patience, work ethic, and tenacity to find a way to get it done.

When he was in second grade, living in his native Holmes County, Williams learned about the Mississippi School for Math and Science (MSMS) from his grandmother, and he decided he would go there, even though it’s in Columbus, more than 100 miles away. Fastforward about 10 years, and he was accepted and enrolled in the school.

At 11 years old, Williams decided he was going to pursue a career in medicine. Five years later, during his junior year at MSMS in early 2017, he heard about the Rural Medical and Science Scholars (RMSS) program, a residential summer camp opportunity delivered by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

The two-and-a-half-week program, in place since 1998, helps teens determine if they want to pursue health-related careers by allowing them to take a college-level health science class, shadow a real physician, and participate in a series of health workshops. RMSS shapes students’ interest and understanding of medicine, health-related disciplines, and other STEM fields.

His RMSS experience confirmed that Williams wants to become a medical doctor who serves Mississippi residents. Having finished his bachelor’s degree in biology this spring at Tougaloo College, a historically Black college in Jackson, Williams is beginning studies this fall for his medical degree at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

He credits RMSS for giving him the chance to confirm that he does want to become a doctor. For Williams, the key moment during the summer program was shadowing a practicing physician.

“I got to see a patient with a rare, rare condition. It was only manageable; for this condition, there was no cure, and I watched that physician talk to that patient. Sometimes, doctors can only help people manage the condition, and seeing that solidified me: I can be that person,” Williams affirms.

“I was very inspired, seeing the doctors healing patients, managing conditions, and helping make those patients’ lives better,” he emphasizes. “It’s what I need to do.”

Being in RMSS showed Williams how much he enjoys the patient interactions, as well as the science and research involved in practicing medicine. When he began his senior year at MSMS, he joined the Junior Master Wellness Volunteers, giving him the chance to share his knowledge about health and wellness at health fairs and the local Boys and Girls Clubs chapter.

“I really enjoyed making a difference with the younger people and their families,” Williams says.

During his years at Tougaloo College, Williams committed to participating in research opportunities, including research related to health disparities in rural Mississippi and heart inflammation from smoking.

“I want to make a change at the community level,” Williams explains. “There are problems in Mississippi that need to be researched and fixed, and public health research can help with that. RMSS first showed me that I can make a difference, and the pandemic grew my knowledge in looking at data. After I finish at Brown University, I definitely want to come back to Mississippi to be that doctor who’s a face you can trust.”

Williams says that any high school junior considering a career in medicine should apply to participate in the summer program, held in June. Applications are accepted beginning in January of the same calendar year, and scholarships are available; contact the local county Extension office to learn more.

“If you’re considering doing RMSS, I say go for it. If you know you want the career in medicine because you’ve done this program, that’s better than going into debt and spending the long nights studying and deciding you don’t want it.

“RMSS is worth your time,” he adds. “The knowledge you gain will be invaluable.”

 

Want to be part of supporting another generation of students who are discovering if the medical field is right for them? Visit our sponsorship guide.

 

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