Ariel Walker starts her path to medicine and research with internship

When Alcorn State University senior Ariel Walker was in the 4th grade, she had an experience that would later shape her career path. During that time, Ariel had dreams of becoming a veterinarian, but that changed when she witnessed her father suffer a massive stroke. While visiting him in the hospital with her family, her interest in becoming a doctor was sparked.

“My family and I were in and out of the hospital with my father at the time, so that’s when I decided that I wanted to become a doctor,” said Ariel, a Detroit, Michigan native.

With her summer internship as a research intern at the Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland, Ariel is laying the foundation for a career in the medical field. She works in soldier protection services, which requires her to do orthopedic research. Her research focuses on better equipping soldier’s boots for battle and explosions. She received the internship through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF).

Besides experiencing her father’s ordeal, prominent doctors such as Dr. Ben Carson and Dr. Alexa Canady have inspired her in her pursuit of a career as a neurosurgeon. Carson is known for separating conjoined twins and developing a hemispherectomy technique for controlling seizures. Canady is the first woman and first African-American to become a neurosurgeon in America.

“I really like Dr. Carson’s story because he was a prominent black neurosurgeon. His story really motivated me and gave me hope in my chances to follow in his footsteps. Dr. Canady inspires me because it’s good to see other black people, especially women, have success in the field that I want to work in.”

For Ariel, this opportunity is a chance for her to ultimately make her way to her real passion, which is studying the human brain.

“I really would like to study how the brain works. The research that I’m doing on my internship is the first step to getting my foot in the door. I’m really interested in how the brain works and how it controls the whole body. Once I get further into medicine, I would explore that field.”

Once Ariel gets settled into her career, she hopes to play a significant role in helping people to avoid brain injuries while traveling abroad to assist others.

“I would like to work in underserved communities and countries. I want to reverse the effects of strokes and other brain disorders. I’ve volunteered in nursing homes that housed people with mental disorders due to brain injuries, so I want to play a role in decreasing these brain disorders in the future.”

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