Dreams do come true, as long as you remain determined to achieve success, work hard, and believe in yourself. Life cannot be planned, so sometimes, things might not come to you when you wish they did.
Yet, better late than never. Cynthia Kudji, originally from Ghana, wanted to become a doctor since she was very young.
“I remember when we were young there were TV shows like ‘The Cosby Show’ and ‘A Different World’. African Americans in college or being successful was like firsts. So, for me, it wasn’t like ‘Oh, yes, I want to be a physician’. It was more like, ‘Oh, no, can I really do this? Or, ‘Am I smart enough to do it?”
Yet, at the age of 23, she got pregnant. She gave birth to her daughter Jasmine and decided to work as a nurse instead.
In this way, she remained within the medical field, and hoped that at some point in the future, she might again pursue her true dream. She also raised her daughter to have the same passion for medicine.
Cynthia later worked as a nurse practitioner, and at age 43, after she went to Africa to visit her relatives, she decided to pursue her medical degree.
“My mom wanted us to have a family trip back to Ghana and there was an incident where we were in the village and somebody just walked up to us and said that their child had a fever and was sick and wanted my mom and I to help. We put the child in water, trying to get the temperature down, and that’s pretty much all I remember.
I just remember being so frustrated that the mom had to come to a complete stranger to get access to health care. The only thing I knew that could change that situation was to be a physician.”
Therefore, both, the mother and daughter, enrolled in medical school, but they had to go to different schools.
Jasmine attended LSU School of Medicine in Louisiana, while her mother studied at the University of Medicine and Health Sciences in St. Kitts, finishing her degree at the Maine campus.
This was the first time the pair would be separated.
“I think initially it was difficult because my mom and I have always been really close so I had to get used to the distance, we had to learn how to FaceTime and Skype each other, so we were Skyping each other every day and whenever I had struggles and she had struggles, we just had to learn to communicate from a distance, but I think over time we figured it out.”
However, they managed to cope with the hardships posed by the distance between them. Jasmine added that they “laugh together, study together, cry together”, so having her mother there for her to relate to her struggles “was extremely helpful.”
In April, they both finished their programs at the same time and graduated from their respective schools–Cynthia with an M.D. in Family Medicine and her daughter with an M.D. in General Surgery.
What’s more, on Match Day, they found out that they would be both going to LSU Health to complete their residency, beginning on July 1!
This was the first time a mother and daughter graduated from medical school together and match at the same hospital.