Everyone has a story, and each story is unique, intimate, and powerful. Our Narrative series invites you to step inside someone else’s life by reading their story, as told in their own words. Readers, please come open-minded and ready to engage in one of the many stories that makes our community complete. The following is the narrative of Luisa Moncada Lopez, a first-year medical student at KUMC.
Editor’s note: As you read, please keep in mind that this interview was recorded and transcribed months ago, significantly pre-COVID-19. All references to social gatherings described occurred before the stay-at-home order and current social distancing measures were put in place.
Can you start off with a brief summary of your life?
I was born in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, and I lived there for 13 years, then moved to Derby, Kansas with my family and I’ve been here ever since. I went to Derby High School (go Panthers!). And then I went to Newman for undergraduate, did a post-baccalaureate program here at KUMC, and now I’m an M1 here.
If you could choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be and why?
Strong-willed. I think that really describes my journey – from the very beginning when I moved here and worked hard to learn the language and master it, doing well in school, and just kind of swimming against the current at every turn, and somehow still succeeding and making it to where I am today. I think it’s because of how strong willed I am, how determined, and the hard work that I put in. I would like to say that it’s all solely due to the work that I put in, but a significant part of it is due to the help that I have had as well. A lot of my personal achievements comes from my mother and my family, the mentors, professors and friends- essentially every single person that I met throughout my journey until now. Every single one of them had an impact on me and my perspective on life and the subsequent decisions I make. So, yeah, it’s not just me; it has definitely been more than a one-person journey for sure.
What do you do in your free time?
I like to go exercise and relax for a couple hours a week in a group setting. I love to get in touch with my family and call them every now and then – they’re hilarious, and I love them. I hang out with my friends and my boyfriend as much as possible. Oh, and I’m kind of a foodie so I love to go out and eat every now and then. I think that’s pretty much all that I do in my free time – there’s not much of it, so I think that it’s important to just keep and solidify the relationships that you have in life.
What are you passionate about?
Well, aside from medicine, I think that I’m very passionate about improving the health and healthcare of minority populations. I think that working and volunteering at JayDoc for several years has definitely shown me how underserved certain populations are. So, I would love to do some type of work that involves that in the future. I’m also extremely passionate about the upward mobility of minority populations and supporting women, supporting women’s rights, and giving women more confidence in whatever life path they choose for their lives – whether staying at home or becoming a professional, whatever that life looks like for you, I’m very passionate about supporting that. I would love to see more representation in every field – in science, in politics, you name it, it would be great to see more representation, more leadership and more confidence. You know, the self-assured type of woman that can take on anything that they wish. I want to educate our little girls and let them know that they can achieve anything they want. That’s what I’m passionate about. I want them to know that it is possible.
What inspires you?
What inspires me first and foremost: my mother. My mother is an extremely strong, determined woman, and she accomplished so much during her lifetime given the obstacles that she had in life, so I look at her and I see this incredible woman, and I’m just in awe of how wonderful she is. And then I think if she did it, I can do anything, there’s no excuse for me to not be able to achieve my goals. Then I look at all the other women throughout history that have achieved so much with so little, and it’s just this incredible feeling of elation when thinking about them and their lives and how much they were able to achieve and inspire other people. I would not be here without their work, without their passion and without their vision. You and I would not be sitting here in medical school, talking about these issues if it were not for them and those trail-blazers, so it’s the women — especially minority women — who inspire me.
What is your journey into medical school?
I’m kind of a product of the ODI [Office of Diversity and Inclusion] office here at KU Med. They are absolute angels and I really appreciate their work. They certainly support and solidify KUMC’s vision and mission. Then I also did the post-baccalaureate program here at KUMC and now I’m an M1 here.
What are your future hopes for medicine?
My future hopes for medicine is that I start to see more minority representation and more diversity within our medical system, because I know that directly affects patient care and how minority patients are perceived and are treated, and of course that ultimately affects patient outcomes, so to me it’s extremely important that we see that diversity increase in the next couple of years. I think the idealist in me wants to believe that, hopefully, the youth that are going for leadership positions do a good job at reforming the healthcare system. Politics aside, I generally believe that there are a lot of things that still need to be fixed. I would hope that technology engineers? and healthcare professionals come together reach a consensus on how to make the EMR more efficient for ourselves, as future physicians, and for our patients. By the time that I get to residency I really don’t wish to be glued to a computer the whole time that I am in a patient room. During a patient encounter, I want to be able to talk to my patient and for my patient to feel like my entire focus is on him or her. My hope is that we can markedly improve efficiency in healthcare, especially the EMR and related paperwork, because I know that can definitely grind you down as a physician. So, I would love to see that improve as well.
What are three things you are loving right now?
I’m loving my workout group here at KU Med. It’s just this amazing group of gals that I got together and we workout on a weekly basis and that has markedly motivated me to go and workout and make time for myself. I’m also loving re-watching Friends right now. I used to watch it when I was younger, when I was first learning English. So for me it has this nostalgic element to it, so watching it again just takes me back to that time. And finally, as cheesy as it sounds, I’m really loving meeting new people here at KU Med.