From NASA To Med School: This 13-Yr-Old Aims To Change The Face Of STEM.

Only a small percentage of the people who apply for medical school get accepted, and the number of people of color who do is even smaller. This is a fact that Alena Analeigh Wicker aims to change!

From the time she was a toddler, Alena’s mother knew she was special. Daphne McQuarter of Texas noticed her daughter excelling at academics at the young age of 3 years old when she started reading books intended for much older readers.

“Alena was gifted,” Daphne explained. “It was just how she did things and how advanced she was. She was reading chapter books.”

Throughout elementary school, Alena was bored with her lessons. She was bullied by other kids for being smart, leading to Daphne pulling her out of 5th grade so she could homeschool her for a few years. She eventually rejoined public school, but she took the highest level classes she could. In fact, she found the high school curriculum so easy, she wound up graduating when she was only 12 years old!

Alena loves school, especially STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math. After graduation, she started taking classes at Arizona State University, double-majoring in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry. With dreams of becoming a NASA engineer, she became the youngest person to ever land an internship there.

She hoped to become a NASA engineer someday and became the youngest person to ever land an internship there.

In addition to her studies, Alena is passionate about helping other people of color enter the STEM world. She started “The Brown STEM Girl,” a program that encourages girls of color to pursue careers in STEM. While taking a trip to Jordan with the program, Alena found herself drawn to a new area of study: viral immunology. As soon as she got home, in fact, she switched her major to pre-med.

Now, Alena’s already got med school in the bag! In May 2022, Alena posted a letter on Instagram sharing that she was accepted to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Heersink School of Medicine. The school offered her admission in 2024 through the Burroughs Wellcome Scholars Early Assurance Program.

This program gives young students, like Alena, a head start on their medical careers. With their help, undergrad students don’t have to worry about applying to multiple medical schools during their last year of college.

This admission makes Alena the youngest Black person ever accepted into medical school in the United States as well as the second-youngest person ever accepted into med school.

In spite of all of her accomplishments at such an early age, Alena is still a typical 13-year-old in many ways. She loves hanging out with friends at the arcade, playing with LEGOs, cooking, and traveling. She hopes her academic success and work with “The Brown STEM Girl” encourages other kids to do what they love, no matter what anyone else thinks.

We wish we had half the smarts this teen has! Wishing Alena all the luck in the world as she blazes trails for young women of color in STEM.

Share Alena’s journey to congratulate this soon-to-be doctor on her accomplishments.

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