The Perkins Perspective | Features | Spring 2012
MAPS: Finding Direction
By Tajanna Stinn, SPU Senior
When I was 15, my mother told me that in five years' time I would not be the same person. She said that the way I think, the way I behave, and many of the people I value most would be different — and that change is a natural part of growing up.
But as a teen, sitting with my arms folded and legs crossed, I resisted what she was saying. The relationships I had built, the priorities I had and the person I had become were all very important to me. I was not going to allow them to change. Now, nearly 20 years old and a graduating university student, I look back with a new understanding of what she meant. Two years later, at age 17, I entered Seattle Pacific University as an aspiring premedical student.
For as long as I can remember, medicine had been a big part of my life. When I was 5 years old, my mother was diagnosed with two serious chronic illnesses. From then on — appointment after appointment — I would follow her into the doctors' offices for tests, examinations, and treatments. In turn, I became more and more driven to become the kind of doctor I’d always wanted my mother to have.
By the time I was 15 years old, I decided to jumpstart my tract to entering the medical field. I successfully completed two years of Running Start, and was able to enter Seattle Pacific University with an associate’s degree and two years of field research under my belt. I was on my way to making something of myself.
At a Standstill
Despite my successes, my start at Seattle Pacific University began a world of self-doubt. With harder coursework and new pressures to make myself into a competitive medical school applicant, I wondered if I was good enough to become a physician. I had a vision of where I wanted to be in the future, but I no longer knew how to get there — or even if it were possible. Till now, I had been able to handle everything on my own. Now I felt that I was at a standstill in my journey.
It took only one person to help restructure my perspective and give me a clear direction on my road to accomplishing the goals I had set for myself. After joining MAPS, I had found a mentor in Max Hunter who had faith in my ability to achieve success, and who offered to actively guide me through my journey as an undergraduate student.
With his help and the support of MAPS, I was encouraged to become actively engaged with people who will advise and help me on my way to medical school, and also to become more involved with the community.
After taking my mentor’s advice, I realized that Seattle Pacific University provided all of the necessary tools for me to be a successful student, including an amazingly supportive staff of teachers, counselors, and advisors. But it was not only my mentor, it was also the entire Seattle Pacific faculty that whole heartedly believe in me and other students and their ability to do well. Every professor and every advisor with whom I have met has encouraged me to keep going in pursuing my goals — even through the most difficult of times when balancing my school work and my responsibilities to my family. I never felt that I was carrying the weight of those burdens alone because of their cooperation.
Character Growth and Teamwork
The Seattle Pacific University community of students has also been a support system unique to any school I have attended. The teamwork, support, and spiritual encouragement offered by my peers have helped me realize that we are not meant to handle trials alone, but with each other.
In MAPS I met students who all had different backgrounds and hardships. Yet we were all able to identify with one another and connect through our common desire to make positive changes in health care and in the lives of others.
Rather than creating a “survival of the fittest” environment so common among pre-medical students, the members of MAPS have created an environment that truly encourages leadership through cooperation. MAPS has provided an amazing reflection of the overall Seattle Pacific culture, in which I have found a home that nurtures character growth, healthy relationships, and academic achievement.
My mother’s words have truly proven to be true. Five years later I have changed into a different person, a better person. I now value the importance of community and commitment to others. I am no longer unsure of myself but rather I have confidence in the change I can make alongside my peers. And finally, I learned not to fear change, but to encourage it in order to positively influence the lives of other people.
Seattle Pacific consistently states “engaging the culture, changing the world,” and in my time at the university, I have grown to truly value and apply this phrase to every aspect of my life, from my road to becoming a leading physician to my journey in becoming stronger in my faith and character. In my final months at Seattle Pacific, I am humbled, thankful, and prepared for the future that lies ahead.
Tajanna Stinn was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Now a senior at Seattle Pacific University, she is majoring in applied human biology. After graduation in June 2012, she intends to take the medical school entrance exam, go to London for a master's of research degree in immunology and infectious disease, and apply to U.S. medical schools with the intention of becoming an infectious disease specialist.
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