13-year-old admitted to American medical school! How did the “genius girl” come about?

The Story of a Gifted Girl

Writing | Yan Xiaoliu

Source | “Medical Community” Public Account

Alena Analeigh Wicker is the legendary “other’s child”.

She is 13 years old, has graduated from high school, and received an early admission notice from a well-known medical school in the United States, becoming “the youngest African-American medical student admitted” in American history.

In response to the title of “genius girl” presented by relatives, friends and the media, Alena humbles herself:

“I’m just a normal 13-year-old. Just a good use of time and self-discipline.”

A close-up of Alena Analeigh Wicker, July 2022. /D. Lacy Photography

At least 10 years younger than classmates, planning

Practicing Medicine at age 18

Lending an olive branch to Alena was the University of Alabama at Birmingham Helsinck School of Medicine.

The school was formerly known as the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. In 2021, the ophthalmologist Marnix E. Heersink donated nearly $100 million to it. So the medical school took his surname.

The school is ranked 32nd on the “2023 Best Medical Schools: Research” list, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked 26th on the same year’s “Best Medical Schools: Primary Care” list.

“At the beginning of my application, I wasn’t quite sure I’d be accepted,” says Alena.

According to statistics, the average US medical school acceptance rate is 7%. Among them, only 7% of African American students are admitted.

“According to this data, I have no chance at all,” Alena described.

A statement from the school to CNN said Alena was early admitted through the School of Medicine’s Young Scholars Program. The project is co-operated by the School of Medicine and African-American universities/colleges (HBCUs) across Alabama to issue early admission notices to students who meet standards such as credits and comprehensive qualities.

Currently, Alena is pursuing two separate bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences at two other universities. She plans to finish school and graduate in the spring of 2024. In the fall of the same year, the medical school courses began.

Alena was 15 at the time.

This means that on the medical student track, Alena is at least 10 years younger than her classmates.

“Hopefully by the time I’m 18, I’ll be licensed to practice medicine.”

In 2021, Alena High School graduates. /Instagram

Her life is full of possibilities

Based on reports from The Washington Post and the New York Post, Alaina has been out of the ordinary since she was a child.

As an infant, she was adopted by her adoptive mother, Daphne McQuarter. The two live in Texas.

At the age of 3, children of the same age are reading picture books, children’s books, or playing with books. Alena has begun to read chapter books (chapter books for children aged 7-10) design).

After attending elementary school, Alena was bullied by her classmates for being “too smart.” So, she discussed with her mother and wanted to study at home.

“The main reason is that the school’s teaching progress does not meet my requirements.” The mother was persuaded by this sentence.

Alena (right) with classmates. /The Washington Post

Since 5th grade, Alena goes back to school. Not because she couldn’t keep up with her studies, but because her mother wanted her to “get along with her peers.”

Home every day, her mother guides her through high school classes.

“I find it easy.” Alena says that the joy of advanced learning outweighs the pain. Maintaining the same learning progress as children of her age makes her boring.

“I owe most of what I’ve accomplished to my mom. She’s amazing and pushes me not to stop. She’s the best mom a child can have.”< /p>

Alena with mother Daphne McQuarter. /Instagram

In 2020, Alena was 11 years old and entered high school. Graduated the following year.

At the graduation ceremony, Clayton Turner, director of NASA’s Langley Research Center, was invited to the school to present graduation certificates to the children.

Alena, who is “one size smaller” than the others, catches his attention.

Alena poses with Clayton Turner, director of NASA’s Langley Research Center. /The Washington Post

After getting to know more deeply, Clayton was attracted by Alena’s hard work and studious, and decided to recruit this up-and-coming “young talent”.

At this point, Alaina became NASA’s youngest intern. Clayton is her tutor.

“My dream came true,” says Alena, who became fascinated with stars, space and Lego when she was three or four years old. Mom took her to visit different planetariums and spent the night in them. That includes NASA.

“I remember walking in and saying, I’m going to work here one day and I’m going to be the youngest girl of color here.”

Alaina participated in a number of projects during her internship. One of them is to remotely assist NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory research.

This laboratory is mentioned in the movie The Martian. Its predecessor was the “Rocket Club” of the California Institute of Technology. To date, the laboratory has led many NASA projects including lunar and rocket exploration.

Clayton believes that Alaina has extraordinary intelligence. But what really made her stand out was not just her mind, but her heart, “she always wanted to help others.”

Alena visits NASA. /Instagram

God’s turning point

It was precisely this internship opportunity, which was “too late for others to envy”, that made Alaina have some doubts: I don’t seem to love engineering as much as I thought.

In the spring of 2021, Alena is admitted to Arizona State University and Oakwood University to pursue two separate bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of her classes are “online”. Every once in a while, go to the school laboratory to complete the practical content.

January 2022, Alena at Oakwood University’s Biological Laboratory. /The Washington Post

After taking an engineering-related course, the feeling of “inappropriate” intensified.

Meanwhile,The more biology she studied, the more interested she became in medicine.

“When I took my first biology class, I knew this was what I should be taking.”

After a trip to Jordan, she decided to apply to medical school. This is the opening scene.

“I want to study viral immunology to help communities and people who lack health care. I’m passionate about it,” said Alena.

If she doesn’t work in virology in the future, Alaina has thought about becoming an aerospace surgeon, “working with astronauts.”

Alena stayed up late to build Lego. /Instagram

A voice emerged after Alena’s story received widespread media attention. Worried that she was “focusing on her studies, losing her childhood, and affecting her physical and mental development.”

“I didn’t miss my childhood. On the contrary, I had a great time.”

Besides her busy schoolwork, Alena often plays football, goes shopping, sings, cooks, etc. with her friends, which makes her life quite fulfilling.

Around 2020, she founded a nonprofit called “Brown STEM Girl”, which aims to help other girls of color to pursue their passions in science, engineering, and mathematics development in other fields.

Women make up 28 percent of the nation’s science and engineering workforce, according to the National Science Council. Only 5% of them are women of color.

“My mission is to change that. We want to show the world that all girls, including girls of color, deserve opportunities and resources for school children in remote areas.” Alai Na said.

Brown STEM Girls has raised private donations to provide scholarships to outstanding helpers. The group is said to have 460 active members and about 2,000 girls “waiting for help”.

Alena and her friend Angelica. About a year and a half ago, Alena started Brown STEM Girl, an organization to support girls of color in STEM. /The Washington Post

In May of this year, Time magazine announced its “100 Most Influential People of 2022”. Alaina is one of the finalists and the voices are high.

“Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible.” Don’t be limited by age, Alena urged. No matter how old or young, people can do whatever they want.

Image sourced from Instagram


[1]13-Year-Old Accepted to Medical School. Medpage Today

[2]She just got accepted to medical school. She’s 13. The Washington Post

[3]This 13-year-old is headed to medical school a year after graduating high school. CNN

[4]13-Year-Old Girl Gets Accepted to Medical School a Year After Graduating High School: ‘Mama I Made It’. People

Source: Medicine

Editor in charge: Zheng Huaju

Proofreading: Zang Hengjia

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