The Perkins Perspective | Features | Spring 2012
MAPS: First Fruits
By Ashley Dixon, SPU Class of 2011
Editor’s note: In 2004, when Philip Eaton, president of Seattle Pacific University, announced the Blueprint for Excellent, he asked, “How best can we be faithful to God’s call for this institution, in this place, and for this time? How can we become a world leader at equipping people to engage the culture and change the world?”
Seven years later, SPU graduated its first African-American student who matriculated into The University of Washington Medical School (pictured left). Although SPU had seen other non-white graduates enter medical schools, Ashley Dixon is a first fruit of Eaton’s vision of reconciliation to bridge the gaps between groups and to equip our students to change the world.
While growing up, I always knew that whatever career choice I’d make, it would be a vocation that involved interacting with a diverse group of people. But it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school, after interacting with a general surgeon, that I discovered such a career and began my pursuit of medicine.
It all started while I waited with my distraught mother, who was preparing to undergo a complete mastectomy. That is when Dr. Condon strolled in with an aura of sereneness and confidence. Speaking to her in a reassuring and relaxed tone, he helped her relax and prepare for surgery. In those moments with him, my mom’s demeanor changed — and my passion for medicine began to grow.
On the journey that has culminated with my acceptance into the University of Washington School of Medicine, one program in particular sticks out in my mind: the Minority Association of Premedical Students.
My experience with MAPS has been invigorating and rewarding, and it has shown me what it means to represent a group of minority health care professionals striving to making a difference in the world.
One of my favorite experiences with MAPS was Pathways to Medicine. This forum focused on bringing together diverse individuals from different fields in medicine so that we could learn about their experiences. As an aspiring medical student at the time, I was amazed at how underrepresented groups have determinedly worked to close the gap between the faces that are seen in medicine. After leaving the forum, I felt a heightened desire to succeed in becoming a physician and become that African-American female face in medicine.
The following year, I decided to become a part of the MAPS core and help educate my fellow peers on health care disparities and ways in which we could help bridge the persistent gaps. One of the events that helped combat these issues was the Bone Marrow Drive. Being able to educate individuals about what it means to sign-up for the bone marrow registry and the importance it has on others lives was a rewarding experience. Aside from getting people to sign-up, I was able to converse and educate people about the stigmas associated with donating bone marrow.
The experience that I had with MAPS has helped me understand health care disparities and my responsibility as a future physician in helping to solve inequalities in health outcomes. As I continue to pursue my medical career, I do so with the knowledge that MAPS has helped me become a more culturally competent person and thus, a better physician.
Raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Ashley Dixon is a 2011 graduate of Seattle Pacific University with a bachelor of science in physiology and a minor in chemistry. Now attending the University of Washington Medical School, she intends to become a surgeon.
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