In celebration of Women’s History Month, KPSOM is highlighting varied women leaders and physicians working in medicine and STEM-related professions throughout the month. Each woman profiled has forged their own path to a career in medicine and/or STEM. Here, we gather more insight on their personal and professional journeys, influences, and key advice for women and girls interested in medicine and STEM-related professions. In part 2 of our series, we spotlight Lindia Willies-Jacobo, MD, KPSOM Senior Associate Dean for Admissions and Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity.
What made you want to become a doctor or enter the field of medicine?
I had a neighbor growing up who was a nurse, and I thought that her job was so interesting. I always had an interest in learning about how the body works. Our family doctor growing up was also one of the kindest human beings on the planet, and I found myself mesmerized by his work. As I grew older, I wanted the opportunity to connect with folks on a deeper level and play a role in their healing.
Was there a specific person(s) who inspired you to go into a STEM-related industry or to medical school? Was there a specific event that was the catalyst to pursuing a career in medicine or STEM? If so, can you tell me a bit about that?
My overarching interest in science came about firmly in high school. I went to a tiny school in Panama and had an amazing biology and chemistry teacher who challenged us through lots of hands-on learning activities. My interest in becoming a doctor, though, started when I was very young. Once I got to college, I majored in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and benefited from many mentors who kept me uplifted and motivated, even when things weren't going my way. I was a first-generation, immigrant student, so having folks available to guide me, was instrumental.
Women make up less than 30% of the workforce in STEM. What advice would you share with young women and girls interested in building a career in this area?
Remain focused, seek out mentorship, and never give up. You will have naysayers all around you, but practice tuning them out. Surround yourself with positive people who are available and willing to support you in being your true, authentic self.
What is your personal mission as a physician or a leader in medicine?
To connect deeply with my patients and communities and lead equitably and inclusively.