Hello! As you all know, I’ve been doing #MedMondays for a while now on Instagram, where I showcase a boss lady in medicine and empower women in the medical field. The more I’ve done it, the better it gets. I keep finding more interesting women with powerful stories, and I decided that one instagram caption is not enough to tell their full stories, so I wanted to bring #MedMondays to my blog!
This week, I want to introduce you all to Kim de Guzman, a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines and a senior at Emory University majoring in Biology and Russian Language and Literature ( so cool, right?!) with a dream of becoming a gastroenterologist. She completed her honors thesis that analyzed the Russian HIV/AIDS Epidemic to understand how the cultural, political, and social body affect the experiences of the somatic body. She has done it all: volunteering for ESL organizations, presenting research at Harvard, and still managing to balance her busy student life with healthy eating and plenty of exercise! You can follow Kim on Instagram at @kimsoprim.
Here is her story:
“I am a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines and English was actually my 3rd language! As a non-native speaker, I had a bit of trouble the first few years of living in the United States in ESL classes, but it made me appreciate both writing and learning languages because it opens up an entirely new world of cultures and experiences. I strive to give back to the community with these experiences in mind. I volunteer with an organization that teaches ESL, and I served as a teaching assistant for ESL adult night classes at a local college. I worked with young adults to elderly people from all walks of life. I also volunteer with an organization wherein we read to children with Down’s Syndrome, in addition to helping them complete basic phonetics and grammar worksheets. Further, I volunteer with my sorority sisters in raising funds for our philanthropy (Read>Lead>Achieve) in addition to volunteering on-site by reading to predominantly Latino children in an after-school program at a local elementary school. Language and literacy are inherently tied to my life experience, which also shaped my college experience significantly.
On that vein, I have always loved literature – I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a doctor or a writer! And being the indecisive person I am, I went with two majors! I am a fourth year student at Emory University majoring in Biology and Russian Language and Literature. Everyone is always so surprised when I say Russian – it’s actually the seventh language I’ve studied! I’ve always valued the writing and humanities in general, so bridging both my passions was my project for senior year during which I completed my honors thesis that analyzed the Russian HIV/AIDS Epidemic to understand how the cultural, political, and social body affect the experiences of the somatic body. My mother completed an integrative medicine fellowship, and through her, I learned that health is not just a state of physical-well being. That said, I try to live as balanced a life as one can – I spend a lot of time with my sorority sisters (Pi Beta Phi) and I run 6-8 miles every week, and lift 2-3 times a week, and I’ve just introduced climbing and hot yoga into the picture! I love cooking and having vegan days because it feels so good putting the right things into your body! I had one year of bad body image and disordered eating, wherein I was longing for a body that mine wasn’t meant to look like. While I have come a long way from that, I felt like I “broke” my metabolism which led to a host of GI problems.
My interest and passion for a system definitely not appreciated enough, the digestive system, stemmed from that rocky history. Recent research on the microbiome suggests that so much of immunology, gastroeneterology, and nutrition are connected. As for my research, I am investigating potential genetic markers for the interstitial cells of Canal, which are thought to be the precursor cells to gastrointestinal stromal tumorcells. These cells, in tandem with enteric neurons, coordinate gastrointestinal motility. I work with zebrafish embryos to investigate our gene of interest, and I work about 12-16 hours per week on my research project. The beauty of research is that its biology in action – what you read about in books, you see right before your very eyes. Honestly, it’s like magic! I became very passionate about research because it requires a lot of writing to communicate science as well. I have presented at Emory, but last semester, I presented at Rice University in Houston. Last weekend, I presented at Harvard Medical School and it was completely surreal meeting the Dean and speaking to all the brilliant minds there. I also presented at ENS 2018, an international conference focusing on the enteric nervous system and its pathologies, primarily Hirschsprung’s Disease. It was scary because I was the only undergraduate there! My poster was selected for a $1,500 travel grant from the NIH and I was offered a research internship in the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands that I am likely accepting. It’s so exciting!
I am still deciding whether or not I want to pursue an MD or an MD/PhD, but I know that I want to become a gastroenterologist or a hospitalist. I also want to continue with research when I’m a physician as well so it’ll be tough balancing that, but life is a balancing act <3″
Tune in next week for a new story on #MedMondays!