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Student Spotlight Sophia Williams-Perez

Sophia Williams-Perez, portrait
Date: Friday, March 12, 2021

Sophia Williams-Perez, portrait in uniform

Sophia Williams-Perez, fourth-year student, Navy HPSP (Health Professions Scholarship Program) recipient, and student body president of the Carver College of Medicine, thought she knew which specialty to pursue when she first entered medical school.

But after just one hour in the operating room, she realized she had found her calling.

What type of medicine do you hope to pursue, and what drew you to that specialty?

I was one of the students who was dead set on a specialty coming into medical school. I thought I knew that internal medicine was the choice for me, but clearly, that didn’t work out.

I had an incredible resident mentor named Jackie Engelbart. She first planted the seed that maybe surgery would be a good fit. And then, when I went into my surgical rotation during my core year, it just felt right.

What experiences while in medical school influenced your decision to pursue this specialty?

It was first time that I stepped in the OR. It was a laparoscopic case, so I could watch everything on the screen, and I was helping drive the camera. I still remember feeling fortunate that I had a surgical mask over my face because when I saw the anatomy pop up for the first time, my jaw dropped—I had only ever seen it in an anatomy lab. But seeing it real and live, it was breath-taking. So, I knew that was a done deal within an hour of starting on my surgical rotation.

How did COVID impact your last year medical school, and how did you overcome those challenges?

As student body president, one of the main roles any given year is event-planning for the med/PA school and ensuring to relay the voice of the students. With the pandemic, nearly all of our major events were cancelled, and we faced unforeseen challenges. Coming up with ways to connect our student body and maintain our strong collegiality and student support this year has been tough. It’s challenged me to be creative and lean upon a strong support system of students and staff here at CCOM. I am truly lucky to be surrounded by such resilient and ingenious classmates and friends that have helped ensure we’re standing through this together.

Can you share any long-term goals that you have for your career in medicine?

One of my primary goals involves becoming an academic surgeon with the hope of pursuing roles in medical education, research, and mentorship. I want to help inspire students so that they can see my journey, or a journey similar to mine, and know that it's not impossible for them to pursue whatever their dreams entail.