The 13-year-old makes history as the youngest African American to be accepted into medical school

At just 13, Alena Analeigh made history as the youngest African American woman to enroll in the University of Alabama Medical School.

Analeigh, a native of Dallas, Texas, is doing what many other junior doctors take twice as long to do: get accepted into medical school.

“I was shaking, I was nervous, but at the same time I was confident that they would see all of my work and accept me,” Analeigh said of her performance.

Analeigh says she was accepted into the Heersink School of Medicine at the University of Alabama in Birmingham last May, making her the youngest African American to do so. She says the programs and doctors at the school drew her to UAB.

“Medical school is more like where I wanted to be, and that’s where I found a passion for viral immunology,” Analeigh said.

Last year, the 13-year-old made headlines when she was accepted to Arizona State University at just 12 to major in astronomy, planetary science and chemistry. The teenager had her sights set on working for NASA, which her mother, Daphne McQuarter, says has always interested her daughter.

“She was passionate about the stars and NASA, so I would take her to a different NASA center every summer,” McQuarter said.

McQuarter says she realized her daughter was extraordinary when she was 11 months old, and by age 3 Analeigh was reading and engaging in extensive conversations. McQuarter says Analeigh, along with her older sister, who was also advanced and graduated high school by age 14, were both homeschooled.

Analeigh says her first few weeks in college were eye-opening and she realized her love for STEM wasn’t exactly going to go as planned when an early project involving designing a chair prompted her to abandon college to reconsider.

“It was my first engineering class and they had me design a chair and that’s where I stumbled. It was a very difficult chair,” Analeigh said. However, Analeigh focused her talents on another more pressing area, the COVID-19 pandemic and the study of viruses. This led her to pursue medical school to become a viral immunologist.

“When the pandemic started you see all the cases and everything that’s going on, our everyday life is fundamentally changing and I said how can I help because that’s what I want to do, I want to help everyone around world in many ways through healthcare,” Analeigh said.

Analeigh says she’s excited to start medical school, but that’s still a few years away as she is expected to graduate from Arizona State University and Oakwood University in 2024.

In addition to her college courses, the 13-year-old dedicates part of her time to her Brown STEM Girl Foundation, which hosts activities to increase STEM interest and awards scholarships to girls of color who are high school graduates in the US with a weighted 3rd place .3 GPA.

“Internship programs and fellowship programs, then we started STEM overseas, we fly around the world just to engage them in different types of STEM,” Analeigh said of her foundation.

Though Analeigh’s story is many years from being fully written, the brilliant 13-year-old is already on her way to fulfilling one of her enduring legacies of inspiring black and brown girls to pursue STEM careers that are still celebrated by be dominated by men. The census reports that only 27 percent of STEM workers are women, and according to a 2019 Pew Research study, Blacks make up just 9 percent of workers in STEM fields.

“You don’t see a lot of young girls in STEM, especially young girls of color, and that was really my goal to really educate and engage girls of color in STEM,” Analeigh said. The 13-year-old makes history as the youngest African American to be accepted into medical school

James Brien

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