Jennifer Adaeze Anyaegbunam, '10
MD Candidate at the University of Virginia School of Medicine
Jennifer Adaeze Anyaegbunam ‘10 is currently a second year medical student at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. As a premedical student at the College, Jennifer received a concentration in Film Studies from the Visual and Environmental Studies department, and a secondary concentration in Health Policy. After graduating from Harvard she attended Columbia University where she received a Masters of Science degree in Narrative Medicine, a field of study that allowed her to further synthesize her interests in medicine and media. Ultimately, Jennifer hopes to pursue a dual career as a physician and a medical journalist.
When I matriculated at Harvard in the fall of 2006 I was convinced that I was going to concentrate in Molecular and Cellular Biology. I had medical aspirations, and I knew that a degree in the biological sciences would undoubtedly help me achieve my goals. Through a variety of clinical experiences however, I soon realized, that what I loved most about the practice of medicine was the privilege to bear witness to the most intimate moments of the human experience. Although I was initially hesitant to diverge from the most obvious path to medicine, intellectually, I was drawn to these snapshots of humanity. Many of these moments are depicted cinematically. Through the perfect combination of curiosity and courage (or maybe just serendipity), I found myself calling the Film Studies department, home.
In order to be a compassionate and empathetic clinician, one must be able to imagine the suffering of another person. In retrospect, I realize that Film Studies offered me an intense exercise in imagination. My undergraduate concentration helped me see what what others see, feel what they feel, and develop the capacity to be moved--really moved-- by human experiences radically different than my own. Clinicians also must be somewhat comfortable with the abstract and the uncertain. Nothing prepared me for this aspect of the profession more than my Avant Garde film class which challenged my understanding of evidence, perception and meaning. I really learned how to investigate and think critically about entities that were utterly foreign and unknown. Film studies exposed me to the art of living, and the universal experiences that connect us all as people. As a physician-in-training, I will be forever thankful to Harvard for providing me with the foundation I need to practice the art of medicine.