December 20, 2017

Jasmyne Jackson: Empowering positive change

Dual degrees open up more opportunities for impact in med school

University of Michigan Medical School Dual Degrees

M4 Jasmyne is one of the approximately 70% of non-traditional students at the University of Michigan Medical School who have taken at least one gap year before starting medical school. In addition to med school and her MBA studies, Jasmyne DJs in her spare time. Here, she answers eight questions about her path, passions and purpose.

What gap year experiences did you have before applying to med school?

Through a program called the Pedagogy of Action, I had the opportunity to partner with four community health organizations in South Africa to streamline HIV education delivery. I also directed and expanded health programming at an all-boys public high school in Cleveland through the not-for-profit, HealthCorps. It was an honor to empower students, staff and community members to cultivate a culture of health for the school and surrounding area.

What called you to explore a career in medicine?

I first thought about uplift through medicine when my best friend was diagnosed with lymphoma at age 16 and the health care system saved her life. It is important to realize the limitations of medicine, especially for those facing social hardships, and witnessing those challenges motivates me to create strategies that promote health and social equity. The greatest reward is being able to serve and support patients and their families in vulnerable times.

What other factors did you have to consider when deciding to go into medicine?

I believed medicine was my God-given purpose and had faith that everything else would align accordingly.

What resources have been most helpful to you so far in your medical education?

The faculty and staff at the University of Michigan Medical School are genuinely interested in helping students succeed in their individualized journey. They have been a source of motivation, professional and personal development, and even much needed puppy advice. The Office of Medical Student Education is very receptive to students’ needs and ideas. I am also so grateful for the staff in the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion, whose doors are always open. They continuously work to ensure that diversity is supported and valued in practice.

Which student organizations do you belong to?

I have joined a variety of student organizations, but I would like the highlight the Black Medical Association (BMA) as it has truly been my family the last few years. I joined BMA because when I was in undergrad, my University of Michigan BMA mentor provided advice and support that helped me believe in myself and gain acceptance into medical school. I wanted to pay that forward and have served as the president and the mentorship chair of the organization. BMA focuses on serving underrepresented communities, as well as the professional development and social support of its members. I have grown as a leader, an activist and a friend through BMA. I am thankful for this community.

What is your strategy for finding balance between med school and your other interests?

Spending time in the workforce prior to medical school prepared me for prioritizing my time. I understand that spending time with family and friends rejuvenates me to handle my academic responsibilities thus I arrange my schedule to make time for that. My planner also keeps me in check. If I have a DJ gig or concert coming up, then I know I will have to work harder during the week to make sure I can enjoy those events.

Why did you decide to stay in Ann Arbor for med school?

My family and close friends live in the Detroit area so I knew I would be close to home. In addition, living in Ann Arbor would give me some financial freedom to still travel and take up new hobbies in my 20s. Brunch at Zola Bistro is my favorite ‘treat yourself.’

Why did you want to earn an MBA while in med school?

I pursued an MBA with the goal of gaining business acumen that will help bring innovative and sustainable solutions to health disparities. Ross has already broadened my perspective, skill set and knowledge through the focus on action-based learning, teamwork and business as a vehicle for positive social change. I have also been able to give back to the Detroit community by working on two volunteer consulting projects for Detroit-based not-for-profits. I am excited to apply my Ross experience throughout my medical career.