By Joe MacEachern, Global Health Office
Brent Young is currently enrolled at the Dalhousie Medical School (class of 2019) and he is the student representative on the Faculty of Medicine’s Indigenous Working Group, which advises the Faculty’s Indigenous Program Manager on Indigenous issues. I recently sat down with Brent to talk about his journey towards becoming a doctor.
Brent is Anishinaabe, however he was born and raised in Cape Breton. His mom is one of the tens of thousands of indigenous children who were removed from their families and placed in the custody of the child welfare system during a period known as the Sixties Scoop. When his mother was adopted out of Sandy Bay as a toddler, they lost all connection with their family, elders, culture, and traditional language. Despite this, their family has persevered. They have embraced a new life here in Mi’kma’ki, and Brent has enjoyed the enormous privilege of being the first in his family to attend university. This journey has not always been an easy one, but according to Brent it has been the single most rewarding experience of his life.
Brent has had many different career aspirations over the years, but he has always known that he wanted to study at Dalhousie. Eventually his career interests converged on the healthcare field and, in his final year of high school, he applied to the Bachelor of Science program. Acording to Brent he will never forget how confused he was when he was trying to figure out what a bachelor’s degree was. Worse yet, he had to determine how he was going to scrape together the funds for his tuition. The one thing that he did know, however, was that he needed to go to university in order to become a doctor, and that is what he set out to do.
In high school, Brent began building his resume by finding a part-time job. Eventually, this allowed me to purchase a vehicle and gave him the freedom to move about. With this freedom, it was easier to volunteer and gain access to new experiences. Since high school, he has devoted a few hours each week to volunteering with local youth programs, hospitals, and nursing homes. These experiences have allowed him to develop the communication and time management skills that are essential for success as a university student.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, he found himself pursuing a Master of Science in Pharmacology. Through this program, he was finally able to explore his scientific curiosity and hone his problem solving skills. At the end of his master’s degree, he finally caved to his family’s relentless encouragement, and he wrote the medical entrance exam. To his delight, Brent was offered an interview at Dalhousie Medical School and, in the weeks leading up his interview, he prepped tirelessly. When interview day came, Brent felt foolish to learn that the most valuable preparation that he had done actually happened over the course of many years. “By pushing myself each and every day, I managed to find endless opportunities to grow my professional skill set”.
Reflecting back on all of his experiences, the one piece of advice that Brent would like to give to his indigenous brothers and sisters is to never impose limits on yourself. It is too easy to set imaginary boundaries in your life based on the expectations that you or the people around you have for yourself. While these boundaries can seem very real and insurmountable at times, it is at these times in particular that you must persevere. Push yourself and never stop seeking new experiences that take you out of your comfort zone. Your success is extremely important; the world has a tremendous need for your indigenous expertise.
To learn more about Indigenous programs please visit our Diversity webpage.
We hope to highlight more students through the year.
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