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Meet Aspiring Doctor Fatimah Coppin | ‘The Star behind @Studychaii’ & Rising Photographer

Indigenous Heritage Month

November 2023

By: SemegaChange

She is an 18 year-old aspiring doctor in Sophie Davis’ CUNY School of Medicine’s competitive 5 year MD/MS program. She controls a platform with over 130,000 followers providing study tips for students, is a Ron Brown Scholar, UFT Scholar and takes part of her school’s DIII volleyball team. There is only one word that truly summates Fatimah’s endeavors: an influencer. Nevertheless, influences in Fatimah’s own life growing up is what resulted in who and how she is today, and her story is beautiful.

Have you ever had a Black Indigenous Filipina hijabi woman as a doctor? Well, if you haven't, one will be in the field soon and she is full of passion and ready to treat her patients with love and care. Fatimah is from Queens, New York and attended Benjamin N Cardozo High School. She is a current sophomore studying biomedical sciences, projected to graduate from the MS/MD program of Sophie Davis School of Medicine in 2028!

Fatimah’s love for science sparked when she took a class in genetics in high school, where her teacher not just taught her science, but taught her how to love it. She then emphasizes that’s when she recognized how impactful teachers’ influences are in student’s lives. She reveals science seemed hard at first and did not know if she wanted to pursue it. Well we all see how that has turned out for her!

She enjoyed classes like AP bio and cell and molecular biology and was intrigued by the molecules in the body and enjoyed the anatomy of it all. Students had the opportunity to work in a genomic lab in her high school, and were able to apply the material learned from class into real life. Fatimah demonstrated that this experience immensely shifted her drive to learn science and fully immerse herself in it.

As a student who truly gradually learned to love science, she knew there were many options of fields she could pursue and many schools to choose from. Although her older sister also goes to Sophie Davis (fun fact), Fatimah says she selected Sophie because she could do research, work in clinical studies and learn how to apply all that she is learning. She chose to pursue a MS/MD degree because she wanted to pursue the highest degree possible.

When asked how her identity as a woman of color in STEM has affected her experiences in her STEM journey, she replied, “Being a Black Indigenous Filipina woman, is more of an experience where people don’t and cannot empathize with the intersectionality.”

As someone who has been around the STEM environment for a long time, her first struggle and interaction with someone being disrespectful to her started in high school.

The main challenge was her confidence which is something she knew she did and has to continue to work on. Being in spaces where she was one of the only people in the room that looked like her. As a woman who wears a hijab, they see her as timid and are shocked to find that she is timid and smart and also got into the schools she got into.

Fatimah has had experience working in labs where she was the only woman in the room, and when she is put in these positions, she explains she feels:

“Less confident, shy and am scared of judgment because I might sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

She elaborates on that, saying in previous years, she’s been in positions where she’s been judged, and this still affects her till’ this day and is something she continues to work on. When we asked her what advice she would give to other women of color experiencing lack of confidence, she had a lot to say!

“Do not worry about being the only one in the room. Understand that being different is what makes you, you and what motivates you to help you get what you want. If you feel you’re the only one in the room and repping your community, you have to be able to be confident, if someone invalidates you, let that be your drive. So people like that are not taking space in the field you are in, instead you’d be taking their spot. Being a minority in STEM, you have to fight and things are not handed to you. Once you get where you are, help others like you.

Lastly she concludes with this…

“When you reach the top, don’t forget what you said you were working for. Don’t forget where you came from.”

It was such a pleasure diving into the life of such a young inspiration like Fatimah and SemegaChange cannot wait to see how she continues to develop into the amazing change maker she was born to be. Insha’allah!

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