First-gen American celebrates dream come true

First-gen American celebrates dream come true

Rachelle Alexander

As a first-generation American of immigrant parents from Jamaica, Rachelle Alexander's story is a testament to the power of hard work and determination. Despite facing adversity and doubters, she never lost sight of her goal of becoming a doctor and has become a trailblazer for other minority women pursuing medicine. “Pursing medicine has been a dream of mine since I was an adolescent and, from watching my parents, I learned what it meant to have a heart to help others.” Her parents instilled in her the passion to advocate for individuals with cultural and socioeconomic differences through her service as a physician.

Alexander was inspired to study medicine by her pediatrician and parents. Her pediatrician noticed how curious she was during all the routine procedures, and even offered to walk her through each step to ensure she understood. Alexander’s pediatrician left a great impact on her after expressing that she indeed would become a doctor one day. Her pediatrician's encouragement and willingness to walk her through procedures helped spark her interest and set her on the path to pursue medicine.

Alexander’s journey didn’t just comprise of a deep interest in medicine; service and volunteering were also key elements of her childhood, thanks to her parents love for giving back to the community. Growing up, she and her parents often went to serve food on Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings at the local shelter. Her parents’ dedication to help others with their hands and their time inspired Alexander to help people using similar tools. She combined her love for medicine with a passion for service and decided to pursue a career in General Surgery.

Alexander recalls her own admissions cycle to the School of Medicine and names Student Success Coordinator, Sharon Gordon, in her decision making process. "She wanted to make sure I felt prepared and she was willing to answer any questions I had about the medical school,” says Alexander. “I was amazed at how much they seemed to care about me as an individual even before I stepped foot on the campus. Upon my arrival, everyone was so kind and welcoming. I felt that if I came to this medical school, I would find family away from my family.”

Alexander's advice for those pursuing medicine: remember your “why.” “Working towards any goal often comes with struggles and going through medical school was one of my biggest challenges. Every step towards success came with another mountain I had to climb, but there is beauty in perseverance,” says Alexander. “At each stage of medical school, especially when dealing with COVID-19 and the racial injustices across America, I continued to tell myself that though I struggle I will proceed, and God has taken me through.”

The University of Louisville School of Medicine is proud to honor Rachelle Alexander for her contributions to our school and our city. She recently matched into her General Surgery residency at University of Alabama - Birmingham. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors and are confident she will continue to make a difference in the lives of her patients and community.