Waterford Kamhlaba United World College Southern Africa - (WKUWCSA)

Eli Medvescek (United States, WK 11-12)

What years did you attend Waterford Kamhlaba?

I attended WK from 2011-2012 as part of the IB class of 2012.

 

Please tell us what you have done or are doing at the moment?

After graduating from WK, I went to Duke University in North Carolina (US), where I earned a degree in Biomedical Engineering. After this, I took some time off and went back home to live with my family in Tucson, Arizona. Now I live in Washington DC, where I'm a second year medical student! I have also joined the US Navy as a Naval Officer and am getting my medical training through the military. In just a few months, I'll leave DC and rotate all around the US in different medical specialties (obstetrics, surgery, internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, etc.) as part of my education!

I'm also recently married to the most wonderful woman.

 

Could you tell us what inspired you to pursue your career path?

My career path is actually kind of binary: there's a military component and a medical component. My inspiration for this binary career path is derived from interweaving life experiences. A near-death experience just prior to attending Waterford gave me perspective on the medical process and the difference that doctors can make in people's lives. In this experience, my life was saved by a former military physician; learning about his life taught me about how the military specifically trains its physicians to provide care in austere environments, severe places that even most humanitarian organizations are unwilling to go. Clinical experiences from Ward 8 to working as an EMT in college showed me how incredible it can be to interact with patients, and solidified my love for patient care; however, it also showed me that patient care in less-than-ideal environments (as in the military) provides unique challenges that go above and beyond those found in normal hospitals. 

 

What influenced your choice of career path?

I was really fascinated by the human physiology component of biology, and remember making huge life-sized diagrams of the human body with annotations across important systems. Ms Willmot, while stern, was an incredible teacher - she was very instrumental in inspiring me towards my path today. Various experiences have also given me tremendous exposure to the empathetic, compassionate side of medicine.

 

What advice would you have for aspiring students who would want to be involved in similar areas of expertise?

For those interested in studying medicine (and especially studying medicine in the US), you've got to work really hard. There's really no way around it - you can't cut corners. Put in the time, study, and do it right. Even starting in IB (or in the forms), you can start laying the foundation for a successful career. Kind of along with this, pursue opportunities if and when they present themselves. Become a "yes" person and you'd be amazed at how many doors will open up. Get involved with your community and chase the things that genuinely fascinate you. Lastly, don't forget to engage in self-care. The medical career path can be enormously stressful and really hack away at your mental and emotional health. Get outside, work out, and remember to cut yourself some slack.

 

Do you have any fond memories of Waterford?

Those that come immediately to mind include: getting into pranking wars with Leo; going on rock climbing trips; backpacking in the Drakensburg Mountains; weekly tango lessons; grabbing snacks at the Tuck Shop during break; trips to Mozambique; variety shows and art exhibitions; UWC day; Bushfire; boys night and playing pool; competing for the peanut butter and white bread every night; going to Phoenix on town runs; weekend getaways to Ezulwini or Sondzela... the list goes on and on.

 

Most embarrassing moment at Waterford?

I honestly can't think of anything, though I'm sure it exists - I can tend to be a pretty embarrassing human.

 

What’s your favourite '90s jam?

I Want You Back – NSYNC

 

Who was in your #squad (friend group)?

Everyone in the rock climbing crew, tango crew, HL Maths crew, gym crew, Redemption (or whatever the hallway is called now), HL Anthro crew... I dunno, the list goes on.

 

Favourite teacher/Most hilarious teacher?

I loved all of my teachers! Make Smyth (SL SiSwati ab initio) was probably the most hilarious. Special shout out to all my instructors!

 

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