Black History Month: Future Doctor Talks Motivation, Aspiration

Feb 27, 2020
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Chanel Epps, first-year osteopathic medical student

Chanel Epps is a KCU College of Biosciences graduate and a first-year medical student at KCU-Joplin. Her drive and enthusiasm are evident in her pursuit of a doctorate of osteopathic medicine (DO) while pursuing a Master’s of Business Administration and a Master’s in Bioethics through KCU’s dual degree programs.

Where does she find her inspiration? From her mother.

“I’m one of three girls to a single mom. She put all three of us and three of my male cousins through college all by her lonesome,” Chanel said.

Her mother aspired to be a physician’s assistant, but put her career goals on hold until her daughters finished undergraduate programs, where she followed, enrolling as a nontraditional student.  Chanel and her sisters have Master’s degrees and their mother is now pursuing a master’s degree in business and hospital administration.

“I remind her, ‘I’m going into medicine because it’s something you were not fully able to do,’” Chanel said.

Black History for the Future

Chanel’s drive also comes from the lack of black doctors and women of color in STEM. She views Black History
Month as a time for recognition, respect and awareness of African American achievements in STEM, black inventors and others representing achievements among African Americans across the spectrum.

Representation for people of color is important to Chanel, especially as an osteopathic medical student.

“It’s really nice to open a textbook and even if it’s four to five pages, it’s four to five pages that represent me and give me something to look forward to,” she said.

“I always make sure that I am present for opportunities like this [interview], especially in this community, where there is not a lot of representation,” Chanel explained. “It’s important to have different genres of color. It takes the stigma away, showing that anyone can be a doctor – not just people from affluent families.” 

Living Out Her Dreams

Chanel equipped herself for medical school by attending an extra year of college to enhance her GPA after graduating from Baylor University in 2013 and later, by completing KCU’s Biosciences program.

Her career interests include obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine and surgery.

“I’m going to see how it goes with rotations. I just want to be representative,” Chanel explained. “There’s not a lot of African American students and minorities in general. I’m working to get the most out of my KCU experience. I’m trying to do both dual degrees – I’m an ambitious person.”

At the heart of Chanel’s education is her mother keeping her focused on being the first female in her family to earn a doctorate degree. She looks forward to her future graduation day when she will gift her diploma to her mom.

“Every time I earn a degree, I give it to my mom,” she explained. “When I walk off the stage, I will turn around and hand it to her and say, ‘Here you go, here’s another degree for you.’ She literally has all of my degrees.”

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