Jessica Fernandez-Journey To Becoming A Physician

Fernandez: I don’t remember, like, a specific
time or a trigger that said, ‘oh, I’m supposed to do medicine.’ Because it’s what I’ve been wanting to do
for as long as I can remember, as a child. *Announcer: Jessica Fernandez* So I was nervous. It was White Coat, you’re meeting new people, and… But I was mostly excited. *laughs* My name is Jessica Fernandez, and
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. So I came here when I was 13 years old. My mom and dad wanted to give me a better
future, and, my potential would be seen here. I know mine’s a very visible disability, so
people would think, like, Jessica, like it’s obvious. But the way I feel inside, it’s not obvious
to me. I’ve always felt like anybody else. I was diagnosed with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia. With the diagnosis, you know, comes different
things, like scoliosis, kyphosis, chronic pain every day, and…but that doesn’t stop
me. I put it in the back of my head. I’m small but I feel big. *laughs* I met someone who told me one time,
they said, ‘the only true disability is having a bad attitude.’ Because if you have a good attitude about
everything, you can conquer whatever you’re setting your mind to. Maria Luisa de Curtis Fernandez (mother): She always decided what she wanted,
and what she didn’t like. Just very, very clear about that. And she was always a leader in her school. Fernandez: Me and my mom, specifically – we’ve
always had this kind of friendship. My mom is everything to me. Jessica’s mother: What tests she has taken, what activities
she is doing. What applications she’s doing. We share that information so I’m always up-to-date. Voiceover: And we are only at the beginning
of this journey. Fernandez: I never thought that I was gonna be part of bringing awareness to people with disabilities. People with a disability always bring forward
a new perspective. Sometimes it’s not about the physical work
that you do. Sometimes, it’s about what else you bring
to the team. Like encouragement, compassion and positivity. Brown-Weissman: And I have to say that her
classmates adore her. And she’s gonna be a great doc. And she’s gonna be a great role model. Dr. Meeks: Jessica has a light. It’s kind of like a bulb that will never,
ever expire. In describing how she works with her team,
just drew a picture for me about the value of people who see things differently. Fernandez: It took me a really long time to
even accept my own disability. But as the years have gone by, I’ve really
come to terms with who I am. My journey has been pretty hard. So I wanted to make it easier for other people. People sometimes fear what they don’t understand. So, when you sit with them and you explain
to them, when they see your openness to answer those questions, you just break that barrier,
right then and there. What really helps a person is when you say,
‘I struggle, too. And this is how I struggled.’ And they then tell you, ‘I’m struggling with
that as well.’ My number one priority is really to help people
see, see who they are inside. So, if that means me being vulnerable all
the time, then so be it. *laughs* Jessica’s mother: She’s flying. She doesn’t need me anymore, really. She has enough wings to go by herself. And that is what – it makes me very, very
proud. *Cheers at Match Day* Fernandez: Matched at
a combined program in pediatrics as well as physical medicine and rehab at Thomas Jefferson
University. So now that I get to do them both, I am just
incredibly thankful.

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