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For Chloe, the Decision to Become a Doctor Was ‘Natural’

By CHLOE REYNALDO

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This article was contributed in honor of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which aims to recognize the critical role women and girls play in science and technology. According to UNESCO data, only around 30 percent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. It is suggested that long-standing bias and gender stereotypes steer women and girls away from science-related fields.

“To rise to the challenges of the 21st century,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “We need to harness our full potential. That requires dismantling gender stereotypes. On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s pledge to end the gender imbalance in science.”

Pen Today, Scalpel Tomorrow

Ever since I could remember, I loved to draw.

Wherever you spot me, whether it is in class or in the canteen, I am usually doodling. I draw on test papers, pieces of tissue, and even on my own skin. It was never a strange sight for anyone who knew me to see drawings of flowers literally covering my arm because they knew how much I loved to draw.

Inevitably, someone would always ask, “Do you want to become an artist when you grow up?”

“No,” I would reply, perfecting the giraffe I was drawing on my palm. “I want to be a doctor.”

People I meet nowadays are often surprised to learn that I am a biology major – they usually peg me as a fine arts major, or a broad comm major, or pre-law. People who have known me since I was a child know that I have always loved science and have always wanted to practice medicine.

Ambassador Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon with Ms. Chloe Reynaldo, member of the panel and Y-Peer Activist.

Philippine Ambassador to Thailand Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon with Chloe Reynaldo, a panelist during the International Women’s Day 2016 event in Bangkok, organized by UN Women  (photo from bangkokpe.dfa.gov.ph)

Science has always fascinated me. The fact that we somehow began to understand the laws of our universe, the laws that people used to explain away as magical or supernatural, and then used these laws to improve our ways of living and invest solutions for enduring problems is all so incredible to me. I knew ever since I learned to spell ‘photosynthesis’ that I wanted to be one of them, one of the people exploring the wonders of our world and interacting with them, using the laws of our universe instead of merely observing.

While I love science in all its forms, I picked medicine as my dream career because I believe that it is the highest form of integration science, the ultimate application of the vast knowledge we have accumulated as a species. With the advent of medical practices, we have eradicated fatal diseases, found ways to alleviate the suffering of those with chronic illness, and continuously extended the life expectancy of every succeeding generation. We continue to better the quality of life for people all over the world, and we continue to find ways to make these advancements more accessible and sustainable.

As an advocate for women and children’s rights, I think that my decision to aspire to become a doctor was natural, inevitable even. Meeting with so many marginalized women and young girls, through organizations I am involved in, has shown me that healthcare, one of the basic human rights, is the hardest to obtain for many of them.

So many children and women suffer because they cannot get access to the health services they need. In numerous contexts, women and children are the most vulnerable populations, and I think this is truly evident when it comes to general health and well-being. As someone who has met them, spoken to them, and listened to them, I knew that if there was any chance I could put my love of science to use and help them even just a little, I wanted to take it.

Nowadays, my studies take up the biggest chunk of my time. It feels like I am always chasing deadlines, writing lab report after lab report, taking blurry pictures of bacterial slides through a microscope, or rewriting my amino acid cheat sheet for the umpteenth time. But every day, no matter how tired I am, I always come home with a sense of happiness and fulfillment.

Studying the subjects you are passionate about it, to me, one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. Even better is knowing that what you are learning about has purpose, that, beyond the endless sheets of chemical reactions and microorganismal taxonomy, there lies a meaningful goal, an aspiration for you to strive for and continue to push yourself for every day.

Today, I doodle on the margins of my biochemistry notebook. Many tomorrows later, I will be sitting with a patient that I helped to cure, and I will know that I have truly chosen the right path for me.

About the Author

Chloe Reynaldo, 19, is a writer-illustrator, and is currently studying biology at the University of the Philippines–Diliman. She is a peer educator dedicated to educating fellow students around adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and has been invited to speak in conferences around the world by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She works alongside Plan International Philippines as a Girl Champion for their current Girls Get Equal campaign.

Her book, Be a Girl Champion, which she wrote and illustrated, was published in 2019, supported by the Texas Christian University in recognition of her work as a Global Innovator. It is available on Amazon.



Source: Manila Bulletin

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