At just 13-year-old, Alena Analeigh is making history as the youngest African-American to be accepted into medical school at the University of Alabama.
Analeigh, a Dallas, Texas, native, is doing something it takes many other aspiring doctors twice as long to do, get accepted into medical school.
“I was shaking, I was nervous but at the same time, I was confident, they would see all of my work and they would accept me,” Analeigh said of her accomplishment.
Analeigh says she was accepted into Heersink School of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham this past May, making her the youngest African-American to do it. She says the programs and doctors at the school are what attracted her to UAB.
“Med school is more of where I wanted to go, and that’s where I found the passion for viral immunology,” Analeigh said.
Last year the 13-year-old made headlines when she was accepted into Arizona State University to study astronomical and planetary science and chemistry at just 12 years old. The teenager had her sights set on working for NASA, something her mom, Daphne McQuarter, says has always interested her daughter.
“She had a passion for the stars and NASA, so every summer, I would take her to a different NASA center,” McQuarter said.
McQuarter says, she realized her daughter was exceptional when she was 11 months old and by age 3 Analeigh was reading and holding full conversations. McQuarter says Analeigh, along with her older sister, who was also advanced, having graduated high school at 14 years old, were both homeschooled.
Analeigh says her first few weeks in college were eye-opening and she realized her love for STEM would not go exactly as planned when an early project designing a chair caused her to rethink her college trajectory.
“It was my first engineering class and they made me design a chair, and that’s where I stumbled. It was a very difficult chair,” Analeigh said. However, Analeigh refocused her talents to another area more pressing, the COVID-19 pandemic and the study of viruses, this led her to pursuing medical school to become a viral immunologist.
“When the pandemic started, you see all of the cases and everything that’s going on, our everyday lives are changing in major ways, and I said, how can I help because that’s what I want to do, I want to help everybody around the world in many ways through healthcare,” Analeigh said.
Analeigh says she is excited to begin medical school, but that is still a few years away as she is expected to first graduate from Arizona State University and Oakwood University in 2024.
In addition to her college coursework, the 13-year-old dedicates part of her time to her Brown STEM Girl Foundation, which hosts activities to boost STEM interest and provides scholarships to girls of color who are U.S. high school seniors in good academic standing with a weighted 3.3 GPA.
“Internship programs and scholarship programs, we then created STEM abroad, we fly across the world just to get them engaged in different types of STEM,” Analeigh said of her foundation.
Although Analeigh’s story is still many years away from being fully written, the genius 13-year-old is already on the path of fulfilling one of her lasting legacies, to inspire Black and brown girls to pursue STEM careers which is still dominated by men. The Census reports only 27 percent of STEM workers are women, and Black people make up only 9 percent of workers in the STEM career fields according to a 2019 Pew Research study.
“You don’t see a lot of young girls in STEM especially, young girls of color, and that was really my goal to really educate and engage girls of color in STEM,” Analeigh said.