Dr. Zeromeh Campbell is now doing a paediatric residency programme at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.
Zeromeh Campbell's happiness and joy at realising her dream is infectious and heart-warming. After several years of hard work and sacrifice, the young Jamaican woman graduated as a medical doctor in May 2007 from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. She is now doing a paediatric residency programme at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.
"The happiest moment in my entire life was on graduation day. I was first in my class and I was really bawling when I realised I was finally graduating. I was so happy! I was overwhelmed!" she said.
What was really awesome was the fact that she won not one, not two, but 10 awards on graduation day. Among the awards were:
The Bertran F. Cooper M.D. Class of 1978 Memorial Award, for students who have outstanding achievement in paediatrics;
The Merck Manual Award '07, to students who have achieved the highest scholastic records during their years of medical study;
The Grafton Rayner and Edna Spriggs Browne Award, given to the student with the highest cumulative average in her class;
The HUMAA (Howard University Medical Alumni Association) award, to the student who has attained the highest scholastic average in her class.
Wanted to be a doctor
She is one of those people who knew early on in life exactly what they want to do with their life. She always wanted to be a doctor. So throughout the years at Holy Childhood Preparatory School and Immaculate Conception High School, she kept the dream alive. Moreover, she "loved her own paediatrician in Jamaica, Dr. Heather White," and that helped her to focus on what her life's work would be.
Zeromeh was so focused on becoming a doctor and specialising as a paediatrician that even while at school she did some volunteering at the Bustamante Children's Basic School in 1995. "I would spend time playing with the children and feeding some of those who could not feed themselves," she said.
Her deep interest was in studying the sciences and it paid off in her results at high school. After overcoming that first hurdle, she moved up to the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida, where she studied for the B.Sc. in pre-professional biology.
At Florida Tech, she was a member and then vice-president of the Caribbean Students Association (CSA) and a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honour Society there.
She graduated with highest honours in 2002, and then she took one year off to work.
In 2003 Zeromeh entered Howard University in Washington, D.C. to study medicine. Howard University College of Medicine (HUCM) opened as a medical department in 1868, just three years after the end of the Civil War in the United States.
What was it like for the young Jamaican to study at the historically black Howard University College of Medicine?
"I loved it," she responded enthusiastically to my question.
After many years spent in training there she looked back in 2007 and said, "I needed to be at Howard University. There were many people there who I could emulate."
Zeromeh lived in nearby Alexandria in Virginia with two friends who had also gone to Immaculate Conception High School while she studied at Howard University. She either drove or took the train to school.
Between 2004 and 2005, Zeromeh, was a MedStars tutor at Howard. She supported and tutored freshmen in medical school, held weekly sessions with them to go over challenging topics in the curriculum and shared useful study strategies.
She also became a member of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA); the Student National Medical Association (SNMA); Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honour Society Gamma Chapter at Howard University College of Medicine (HUMC); and treasurer for Physicians for Human Rights. In her capacity as treasurer she helped to co-ordinate the first Annual Health Disparities Conference of the HUMC.
Zeromeh has also given volunteer service. Most recently she assisted with the Good Shepherd After-School care programme and from April 2006 to May 2007 attended group therapy with the Paediatric AIDS/HIV Care programme that offers basic interaction and support for 13 to 15 year-old boys and girls affected directly or indirectly by the disease.
In 2006 "we (medical students) had to decide what we wanted to do," she said. Most of the hospitals where she wanted to continue her training to become a paediatrician were located either in the southern United States or on the West Coast.
"I was so glad when I found out in March that I got my second choice - to go to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas."
She is now doing a three-year paediatric residency programme at Baylor College, with training done mainly at the Texas Children's Hospital. That hospital is affiliated with Baylor. Texas Children's Hospital is the largest children's hospital in the United States and an internationally recognised paediatric hospital. It is located in the Texas Medical Centre in Houston.
"I 'm comfortable in Houston," she said when I asked her how she likes her new surroundings.
It will be another long period of training before she becomes a Paediatrician but having come thus far she is determined to reach her goal. "I am happy how everything has worked out. My mother is very proud of the fact that I was one of the students who scored the highest possible marks in the National Board Exams.
"I made a lot of sacrifices and had many sleepless nights, but I believe when you have a dream you should go for it and always seek after learning," she said.
Another dream she has yet to fulfil is to return to Jamaica to what she considers "her dream job - working at the Bustamante Hospital for Children."
Beautiful Place. Amazing People.
See you in Jamaica.