After completing two degrees – yes, two – 13-year-old Alena Wicker is off to medical school, making her the youngest person ever to do so.
Most of us will remember being 13. For Gen-Z, it was a time filled with Tamagotchi and Justin Bieber.
Our proudest accomplishments probably involved a particularly successful take on hair gems, or a well-crafted music video taken on our parents’ hand-held camcorder.
In any case, these nostalgia-tinged memories certainly didn’t involve acceptance to medical school.
But for Alena Wicker, who turned 13 this year, farfetched dreams really do become reality. After studying for two degrees simultaneously, at both Arizona State University and Oakwood University, Wicker has been offered a place at University of Alabama Heersink School of Medicine, where she will enrol in 2024.
Wicker tells the Washington Post that despite her precociousness, she’s ‘still a normal 13-year-old’. Alena also shies away from self-glorifying, and instead puts her academic prowess down to a humble work ethic; ‘I just have extremely good time management skills and I’m very disciplined’.
Her medical dreams are rooted in a sense of community, and a hope to pave new roads for others like her. ‘I really want to leave my mark on the world. And lead a group of girls that know what they can do’.
A job in the medical field wasn’t always Alena’s first choice, however. The pre-teen initially envisioned herself working for NASA as an engineer, after she was accepted onto ASU’s engineering program at 12-years-old.
It was only after volunteering in viral immunology that Alena realised she wanted to give back to others via healthcare.
‘What I want from healthcare, is to really show these underrepresented communities that we can help, that we can find cures for their viruses.’
When Alena starts medical school next year, she’ll be 10 years younger than the average incoming med student. And her age wasn’t the only odd stacked against her; only 7% of all applicants are accepted into US medical schools, and only 7% of those are Black students.