Congrats to Magdala Chery for being our wonderful feature today! I have had the pleasure of knowing Magdala for 27 years and have been inspired by her passion for medicine and God. Here are some of the questions I asked her. I hope you are all inspired by her story.
1. When did you develop your passion for medicine?
My desire to become a doctor stems from when I was preschool aged. I actually remember going to the hospital constantly because my brother was sick and routinely hospitalized. My mom says I was always in awe of the physicians whenever we went and would always ask her questions like, “Who is that? Why does he have on that white coat?” etc. So actually during my preschool graduation, when asked what do I want to be when I grow up, without hesitation, I said “I want to be a doctor” and I guess I haven’t looked back since. Over the course of 20+ years, this passion would evolve, grow, and even be altered slightly. But the rooted desire to become a physician as remained the same. This career can be used as a platform to change lives both medically and socially and that keeps my passion burning!
2. As a Christian woman, have you had the opportunity to witness to others in the medical setting?
Most definitely! I think as Christians in general we should always seek opportunities to witness about God’s grace. I personally have been able to do this on several levels. Through my actions and sharing my story, I’ve been able to witness to classmates, patients, and hospital house staff (doctors, nurse, technician, etcs). I make an effort to pray before I start at the hospital or office. And I ask God to speak with me and through with everyone I encounter. As I’m speaking with others if I feel a tug at my heart to share my story and God with someone I quickly pray for discernment. And ask Him to direct the conversation. You never know whose life you can change. And below I have a quick example of this.
It was an afternoon in the office and the doctor asked me to go in and see a patient. She informed me that the patient was an emergency visit scheduled because she said she had a lot of family stuff going on and felt sick. So I entered the room and the visit began with her complaining about stomach pain. She looked so distressed and troubled. I knew something else had to be going on. It was clear she was hesitant to share with me her story because this was the first time we were meeting. So as I’m gathering the necessary information and attempting to build trust with her, I silently pray in my heart asking God for the opportunity to relay some hope to her. That prayer was answered. Towards the end of our encounter, she share that her son was just sentenced to prison, her other son had a mental condition, her husband left, her mother was sick in the hospital and bills were piling up. Her list of problems went on and on. All this confirmed that this doctor’s visit was about more than just abdominal pain. And no pill or prescription would be the fix. She had really problems and was emotionally hurt and drained. Medical School training definitely didn’t prepare me for this type of “sickness”.
Eventually, I asked her, what do you do to relieve stress? She said, “I try to get on my knees and pray but even that hasn’t been working lately”. And from there I had the opportunity to share how I also use prayer and faith to make it through my tough times. And as we continued to talk, I slowly watched her shoulders fall and felt her become a little bit at ease. Bare in mind, I had no solution for her family, financial, and legal issues. But nonetheless, by the end of the visit, I helped get a smile across her face just because I gave her a change to speak and tried my best to instill hope. You don’t need to be throwing scripture at someone to display God’s love or witness to someone. But showing compassion and attempting to understand someone’s situation is just as powerful if not more. I ended my visit with her by giving her hug, and thanked her for allowing herself to be vulnerable with me. And that woman has been in my heart every since.
3. Some challenges you faced during medical school and how have you overcame those challenges?
Well the first challenge was believing I could succeed. I always knew I could get into medical school. I made sure I busted my behind to make that happen. But whether or not I could make it through and be excellent at this was another question…one I didn’t have an answer for when I started. There were plenty of times I felt I wasn’t smart enough or privileged enough to match up to my counterparts. As a black girl, it was hard being in a setting where many people didn’t look like me or come from the struggles I did. I found myself focusing on what I didn’t have instead of what I did have, which was God. Soon enough reality hit me, I realized I didn’t get here alone and that God saw me through. It was time I utilized my faith to carry me through the good and tough times of this journey. Finally understanding this, I stopped comparing myself to my peers and just started appreciating the process and journey of becoming a physician. And aimed for excellence, believing it was obtainable.
Other obstacles I dealt with include managing life outside of school. My mom got extremely sick and both my parents were no longer working. So I had to be there for my family emotionally and physically and still aim for academic excellence. I had to fill the shoes of daughter, sister, friend, and student all at once. It was extremely overwhelming. At times, I was a few screams away from falling apart. I finally opened up to someone and they told me to take a step back and focus on myself. This was hard because I grew accustomed to putting the needs of others above my own. And honestly felt guilty doing otherwise. But man was that the best advice I could have gotten. Initially, I felt bad when I had to step back from my role of being a sister, daughter, friend and just focus on my schooling and myself. However when I did, I finally got a chance to renew my strength and get a refreshed perspective on things. And this also allowed me to turn over control to God. I stopped trying to be the conductor and let Him direct it all.
Now with these experiences, I’ve learned that life is about having confidence and balance. Confidence to believe, I am right where I’m meant to be. That it was written for me to be the woman I am today. And if it means I have to study harder or put in more work then my counterparts to do well…then so be it! I refuse to compare myself to the next person and pity not having what they had. I meant to be here and I am going to be the best I can at this no matter what it takes. And lastly balance; at the end of the day…I am one person. I can only do but so much. So it’s important I understand my limitations and make time for me. It is only when I’m at my best that I can truly give my best to others.
4. What is your favorite scripture?
Well I’ve labeled many scriptures as my favorite so thats a tough question. But two scriptures that have carried me through on this journey has been Psalm 37:4-6 and Hebrews 11:1.
5. What are some of your greatest accomplishments?
I believe my greatest accomplishment has been allowing God to use me to help others reach and obtain their dreams. Yes, I’ve won many awards, scholarships and been recognized for my work and that’s wonderful. But I really get the biggest smile on my face knowing I played a role whether big or small in someone else’s success. Over the last few years, God has used me to talk to and motivate many; counsel and guide students on getting into medical school, and help others in various obstacles simply through sharing my experience. The power of telling someone it’s not impossible and being able to reach out my hand and say “I want to help you get there,” trumps any award. God has shown me that the obstacles, hardships, successes, and accolades we earn have nothing to do with us. But they are tools and a means to reveal our character and help someone learn via our journey that we share an awesome God and that they too can overcome the unthinkable with His help.
6. Aside from becoming a physician, do you have any other goals you are working towards?
I would like to become a Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. It’s powerful and rewarding to be able to help someone get back on track to living an abundant and content life. And in the context of medicine, having those skills will help me both in the hospital and out in the community.
7. Can you tell me about someone who has made a great impact on your life and why?
The answer to this would have to be my mother. Growing up I didn’t understand her sacrifice all that well. I just felt she was too strict and didn’t want me have fun. But as I’ve matured and gotten older, I realized that the structure, discipline, and good nature she instilled me is the very reason why I’m here. The role she played in my success is critical. She drove me to medical school open houses right after working a full night shift. She worked multiple jobs to help me pay for my MCAT courses and medical school applications. And the list goes on. Simply put, everything I wanted and needed she did her best to provide with the little she had. And I know that as a Haitian woman, I’m extremely blessed to be in the position I am today to pursue my dreams. Many women in Haiti or the US will never get this chance. My mom is an example of that very reality. I consider my mother to be a very intelligent woman. And I times I even tell her, “mom, if you went to school…you could be whatever you wanted. You’re genius!” She would always laugh and respond with, “seeing you make use of all the opportunities and resources around you is good enough for me. I worked hard so you could have the chance to do and be anything. That’s what I sacrificed for.” So I am inspired by the fact that she put my life above her own and my dreams above her dreams. And was always there to tell me that nothing can nor should stop me. Maggie can be reached via email and/or social media Instagram : @drmagz2004 Email: email@example.com
Far More Precious is extremely proud of Magdala Chery and we asked that you keep her in prayers. Look out for Wednesday’s feature of the day.