May

Meagan Wier, who just earned her master of science in biomedical sciences from UMMC, is working in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology this summer. She plans to enter the School of Medicine.
Meagan Wier, who just earned her master of science in biomedical sciences from UMMC, is working in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology this summer. She plans to enter the School of Medicine.
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#UMMCGrad2020: SGSHS graduate motivates herself, others

Published on Friday, May 22, 2020

By: Karen Bascom, kbascom@umc.edu

Meagan Wier keeps a collection of postcards at her Brandon home. Each is a record of a historical journey. There’s one sent to Buffalo, New York in 1906 and another written in French from 1901. Yet another comes from Italy after World War Two, where the writer tells her friend about riding scooters with local boys.

Wier, who grew up in Louisville, has collected another sort of record that is a testament to her own journey to the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

“I have transcripts from six schools,” said Wier, 32, who will graduate with a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences from the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences.

Wier's oldest card, written in French in 1901, reads in part, "Miss, I have the honor to advise you that I left yesterday," she translates.
Wier's oldest card, written in 1901 in French, reads in part, "Miss, I have the honor to advise you that I left yesterday."

Wier spent a lot of time wondering if she had what it would take to attend medical school and become a doctor. A first-generation college graduate, she first studied at a community college, then spent time in the workforce. She completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Jackson State University in 2014 and took pre-requisite courses at Belhaven University prior to starting at the SGSHS.

And this fall, she will add another transcript to her collection: the School of Medicine at UMMC.

Wier’s motivation for pursuing medicine comes from wanting to help people at their greatest time of need.

“In what position is someone more vulnerable than when they are sick?” she said.

As a student in the SGSHS, she was also adept at spotting when her classmates might be at their most vulnerable: exam day.

Wier volunteers in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology making test collection kits as part of the ongoing COVID-19 response.
As part of the ongoing COVID-19 response, Wier makes test collection kits while volunteering in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

“Tension is really high on test days and I thought it would be nice to have some positivity and encouragement,” Wier said. “I was thinking of people who might have just pulled an all-nighter, or didn’t eat breakfast and were hungry, or who live alone and need a source of encouragement right before the test.”

She started a “Motivation Station” for fellow students before one of the cohort’s first physiology exams last fall. She set up a table outside of the auditorium, providing a few snacks and pieces of paper with inspirational quotes outside of the auditorium. Soon, other students volunteered to help by donating snacks or printing off some of the quotes before class.

It became a ritual for the graduate and dental students who shared basic science course this year.

“People would say, ‘Hey Meg’s got the motivation station going!’” she said.

When Wier approached Dr. Hanna Broome, director of the BMS program and assistant dean for graduate education in the SGSHS, about creating the station, Broome encouraged her to pursue the idea and helped her with the logistics.

Portrait of Hanna Broome
Broome

“I’ve never had a student think of something like this,” Broome said. “It speaks volumes to Meagan’s character.”

Broome said Wier is a great candidate to continue on to medical school in the fall.

“She’s a team player who isn’t going to pursue something just because it benefits her,” Broome said.

Wier is already starting to think about what specialties she may want to pursue after medical school. After shadowing the physician who treated her grandfather’s blood disorder years ago, Wier thinks she may want to practice hematology and oncology for another age group: pediatrics.

She wants to be both healer and cheerleader for these future patients by keeping an eye out for patients’ accomplishments – school honor rolls, mentions in the news -- so that she can congratulate and celebrate them.

For now, she is spending the summer working in the laboratory of Dr. Jorge Vidal, associate professor of microbiology and immunology. She says it’s been fascinating to watch to COVID-19 pandemic unfold as she studies microbiology in her coursework. She’s also enjoyed many of the professors she had this year in other courses.

“I have learned so much as a person this year, and being in the BMS program has confirmed that I really do want to go on to medical school. It was a great decision to enroll,” she said. “It was a fantastic way to get my feet wet.”

As she prepares for what’s coming this fall, Wier wants aspiring doctors who might doubt their ability to make it to medical school – or anyone with a dream or a goal – to know that the roadblocks in their past don’t have to be the end of the journey.

“Becoming a physician and getting into medical school is more than an achievement and a career choice for me. This is what I want to show people: nothing about you excludes you from doing what you want to do and from believing in yourself. Not where you came from, where you live, mistakes you've made, your age or your background,” Wier said.

“The path doesn't always have to be pretty. It can curve and detour and might even stop for a while. There will be moments of self-doubt, but they eventually get replaced with self-confidence.”