Verne' Rochford

Verne' achieved her goals of going to medical school despite becoming a single teenage mother.

Verne Rochford
Medical School: University of Toledo College of Medicine, 2010

What obstacles or hurdles did you overcome in your medical school journey?

In middle school, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. At the age of 17, I got pregnant by my high school love. We had been together for 3 years and engaged, and I thought we would be together for many more years. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I conceived in the second half of the year of my senior year and was to graduate from high school in June 2000.

I did not have much support; in fact, I was told that I would not amount to anything and that I would end up living with my mom and on welfare. I was also told that I would no longer be able to go to medical school. It was very surprising to get responses like this, even from family, because I was a good student, maintaining above a 3.4 GPA and continued to do so. In receiving this response, I was determined to prove the disbelievers wrong and continue to achieve my goal of becoming a physician.

After graduating from high school, I decided to get a head start in college and began community college that same month in order to transfer the credits to the university. I took telecourse classes, which allowed me to stay home and prepare for my baby, which was due in September 2000. At the age of 18, I had a beautiful baby girl and a boyfriend who went to school out of town. So far the disbelievers were right, I was already a single mom and to make matters worse, the relationship was a very rocky on-and-off relationship. This did not get me down or make me stray away from my goals. In the fall that year, I continued at the community college while also caring for my daughter. Her grandmothers would watch her when it was needed.

In January of 2001, I enrolled in the university with the aid of a Pell Grant and a scholarship. These funds allowed me to prepare to move out on my own. In May of 2001, at the age of 19, I chose to move out on my own. I was one step closer to proving the disbelievers wrong.

I continued to attend the university and worked a work-study job in order to pay for daycare after my daughter turned one year old. During my third year at the university, I decided to take additional credits at the community college in order to obtain an Emergency Medicinal Technician certification. During that fall semester, I had my regular 12 credits at the university as well as nine at the community college. After completing the course, I began work full time at a downtown hospital in the ED in May 2003, on the midnight shift while continuing to go to school during the day. I graduated in May 2004. I achieved my first goal, which was to graduate in four years.

After graduating, I continued to work in the hospital and prepared for the GRE and MCAT. I took the GRE just in case I did not get into medical school. I was going to try to get into PA school, which requires the GRE. After working at the hospital for an additional two years, I took the MCAT and did well enough to gain admittance into medical school. I have achieved my goal and have a beautiful daughter. I guess it was not impossible.

Are you a member of a unique demographic? Please describe how that shaped your medical school experience.

As an African American women and a teenage mother, I was even more eager to achieve my goal. I refused to be another statistic and planned to do whatever I needed to do in order to achieve it. Just before starting medical school, I got married and planned to have more children, which I did just after first year and third year of medical school. I did not take any breaks. I feel that my three children (ages 9 years, 2 years, and 5 months) have allowed me to set realistic goals and my priorities appropriately.

My story is unique because, although I had a child at a young age, I did not let that stop me from achieving my goals. The statistics are not very hopeful for teenagers who become pregnant, and they fall into the trap and start to believe it themselves that they cannot do anything else but drop out of school and work to care for their children. I do not think that teenage pregnancy is unique but for those who have found themselves in my situation and with no support, it's hard to move forward to achieve whatever goals you may have had. I do not advocate teen pregnancy, but I hope to inspire those who are teenage mothers and to let them know that life is not over. Anyone can achieve any goals they have if they try hard enough. If you fail, try again.

Do you have any additional information or thoughts?

Medical school is a job, not the end of life itself. It does not require you to lock yourself in a room for four years. Enjoy life to the fullest and make your happiness your first priority.

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