Pursuing their Passions to Help Others: Reflections from Two Inaugural Physician Assistant Studies Program Students

Brianna Cummings

Brianna Cummings

From the few weeks before class began all the way up to the completion of my first month in the Physician Assistant program, I can without a doubt say I have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. First and foremost, I felt and still feel so grateful and blessed to be a part of ߣƵ’s inaugural PA class. I selected to attend ߣƵ for their phenomenal reputation in educating nationally and internationally recognized healthcare providers, researchers, and educators. I am confident the high level of leadership within the MSM PA program will foster a positively challenging learning environment that will push me to become a successful, knowledgeable, and caring medical provider and make my dream of serving those most in need through medicine and healthcare possible.

As we completed our week-long orientation, I was eager to just start classes. However, my feelings of elation and nervousness quickly dissipated as I looked at my syllabi and saw the intense schedule for the summer session. Many PA-C’s have told me that PA school is one the hardest things they’ve done, but you really do not understand until you’re in it.

I am confident the high level of leadership within the MSM PA program will… make my dream of serving those most in need through medicine and healthcare possible."

Each day after class, I spend majority of my time studying previous material and preparing for the next day’s lecture material by reading and watching videos. Nowadays my free time is spent studying in the library and going to the Human Anatomy lab after hours to review material. I can truly say I did not expect to be on campus as much as I am. Campus has become my second home. The work and studying are hard and draining, but what keeps pushing me forward is my end goal of becoming a PA and helping others. And I am beyond grateful to have amazing classmates and a great support system to help me along the way.


Quaadir Otto-Smallwood

Quaadir Otto-Smallwood

Practicing medicine has been a dream of mine since the ripe age of five years old. I was born in York, PA and lived in the inner city until I was seven. From that time until my departure for undergrad, I resided in a rural town on the outskirts of the city. The lack of resources and access to adequate healthcare in both settings was overwhelmingly apparent to me, and it cultivated a yearning inside of me to make a change in the healthcare landscape.

In my journey to pursue a graduate degree in PA Studies, I was elated to find out that MSM was starting a program. The institution’s reputation preceded itself. Its values were equivalent with mine: an emphasis on diversity in healthcare professions and health equity for people of color who live in urban and rural settings. By the grace of God, I received an interview, and the faculty made me feel at home throughout the entire process. Coming from a PWI, I had no idea what to expect at an HBCU. Someone should have told me that it’d be like a family full of support. Fast forward through the joy and tears of my acceptance, and I still feel the same.

Its values were equivalent with mine: an emphasis on diversity in healthcare professions and health equity for people of color who live in urban and rural settings."

To be honest, I was terrified before I arrived on campus for the initial day of orientation. I wasn’t aware if I could handle the rigors of the program or if I’d become well-acclimated to Atlanta. Seeing a welcome sign with my name on it as I arrived on campus changed my mind instantly. It told me that I was going to be supported if I put in the work. The faculty and my classmates have been amazing, and we truly all want the best for each other. I’m loving what I’m learning, and though it is challenging, I know that it will make me a more competent provider. That’s is what brings me back every day. The delicious food that I find at every turn doesn’t hurt either.


Learn more about MSM’s PAS Program