Second Year Student Blog: Melanie Rogers

Monday, August 20, 2018

Melanie Rogers, PA-S
Melanie Rogers, PA-S

"Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today" — Malcolm X

Last fall, I stayed behind during a tour of a Duke building after seeing the above quote displayed on a wall. I felt goosebumps run down my back, as I knew the start of PA school marked a substantial personal and academic milestone. Everything I had worked for up until this point served a purpose, and this was it. Challenging and rewarding moments were yet to come.

Didactic year was full of all the challenges I had anticipated, plus more. Along with my classmates, I quickly adapted to the 8 a.m.-5 p.m. classroom schedule, as well as back-to-back exams, sleepless nights, and frequent runs to the program’s Keurig machine. There is no doubt that the preclinical year put my mental endurance and adaptability to the ultimate test. However, aside from all of the rigorous coursework, the pre-clinical year was full of a series of highlights that I will cherish for a lifetime.

Melanie Rogers presenting

Growing up in the foster care system, great mentorship has always played an invaluable role for me as I have reached to achieve my academic goals. Without such excellent academic and professional guidance, I would not have the perspective nor professional acuity that I have today. At Duke, I feel fortunate to be surrounded by such an abundance of mentors and leaders in the health care profession who are playing a vital role in me becoming a competent and compassionate, patient-centered clinician. Program Director Dr. Jacqueline Barnett, for example, who also serves as my academic adviser, has been an excellent resource and person I could turn to with any worries or concerns throughout the year, making her an exceptional role model as I begin to plot my future in medicine.

Prior to starting PA school, I cherished moments in which I could serve as a mentor for children in the foster care system who, too, needed guidance as they worked to achieve their academic goals. Now, at the start of my second year in PA school, I can confidently say that being at Duke has further inspired me to pay this mission forward.

In the spring, I was nominated and selected to be a student speaker at a Duke Scholarship and Fellowship Dinner. It almost seemed surreal, since I learned that numerous donors would be present, including my specific scholarship donors who I would have the pleasure of having dinner with that evening. In addition, I would have the opportunity to work with a Ted Talk professional who would guide me in refining my speech delivery and presentation skills.

At the dinner, I spoke about some of the hardships I experienced growing up in the foster care system, as well as the vital role of mentorship in the field of medicine. At my table that evening sat my mother, Linda; a previous employer and mentor of mine, Kim; and donors to the Duke PA program. Giving my speech was truly a defining moment for us all. Growing up alongside 27 different foster siblings and persistently seeking professional guidance from others, I felt honored to share my story as a way of thanking donors for their tremendous scholarship support. Furthermore, I felt a great sense of gratitude to have the opportunity to be a voice for students from underprivileged backgrounds who seek to become future leaders in the health care profession.

Melanie Rogers is a second-year PA student with the Duke Physician Assistant Program. Email with questions.

Editor’s note: Duke Physician Assistant Program students blog every month. Blogs represent the opinion of the author, not the Duke Physician Assistant Program, the Department of Community and Family Medicine or Duke University.