With just a little faith and a whole lot of determination, I started out on a journey in 2011 that stretched me spiritually in ways I didn’t know possible. I was born in Jamaica and I got baptized in the Seventh Day Baptist church when I was 13 years old.
About a year after, life was good and I was wondering why I didn’t have any obstacles to overcome, and if I was really a Christian because I didn’t have any ‘struggles.’ But little did I know…
I have always wanted to study in the States and eventually pursue a career in medicine. However, when I went to the bank to get a financial statement, the banker basically laughed and said we didn’t have enough money to satisfy the requirements to obtain a student visa.
I told her not to worry about that, we’ll still take the letter and take our chances. And thus, the journey began.
I ended up missing my appointment at the embassy and had to defer starting school until January 2012. That semester off was an emotional rollercoaster. I questioned if this is what God had planned or if I made the wrong decision and should have just attended University of the West Indies.
But when January came and I took off to the unknown, everything started falling into place. I got a job February 2012 which greatly helped with my tuition and I was able to meet and work with some amazing people. Undergrad was tough and I struggled to stay in the pre-med program.
I had to figure out the process on my own, as the pre-med director told me that only 1% of international students get accepted to med school, and my chances where pretty slim.
During my undergrad years, our family only had one year free where we didn’t loose a family member. Every year for the 4 years of undergrad, either one or two persons would pass away. I didn’t realize that being away from home was taking such a toll on me especially with each death.
I remember my pre-med advisor asking if every time something tragic happened, if I was going to let it affect my grade – this was her response to me having a bad semester.
Nonetheless, I graduated from undergrad, a Biology major and Creative Writing minor. I started working at an Urgent care clinic while studying for the MCATs. I had no idea what I was doing, but every time I wanted to give up, someone would encourage me to keep going.
I did the MCAT and started applying to different schools. I was trusting God through the process. I switched jobs to become a 6th grade science teacher in Midtown Manhattan. Unfortunately, three months after I was let go from the job, because my work permit was denied. The school had failed to send the forms in on-time which led to the denial.
So here I was, jobless, with a big decision to make, pack up and go home or try applying to grad school, since I wasn’t hearing back from the med schools. A week after being let go, I got a call for an interview at SGU medical school in Grenada.
Two weeks later, I was accepted and expected to start January 2018. After being let go from my job I asked God to direct me and he opened this door, so I was certain he would make a way.
I started looking for loans to help pay the tuition and nothing was coming up. However, I packed up by apartment in December 2017 and shipped by stuff back to Jamaica. I bought my plane ticket to Jamaica and then a one-way ticket to Grenada.
With a Med school acceptance, no means of getting a loan, about $5000 in my account and faith, I decided to put God to the test. And because I was trusting him, I made the statement that changed my entire faith journey: IF THIS FAILS THEN GOD FAILED, AND HE CANNOT FAIL THEREFORE I WILL NOT FAIL.
Because I was solely trusting God. I was going by his word that said he will supply all my needs, and this was a need I had.
It was the Friday before leaving New York that my tuition was paid, God had made a way. Studying for two years in Grenada was beautiful, stressful, lonely, and exhilarating all at once. There were so many emotions that I experienced during that time, but I saw God’s favor every semester.
Every semester, he made a way for the tuition to be paid. Every semester God was my teacher and sat with me in every exam allowing be to be successful. I have so many testimonies about how God showed up on that little island for me and I am grateful for every miracle he performed.
Now I’m in my third year of med school and getting ready to continue my clerkship. It has almost been 6 months of uncertainty and not knowing if I would be able to continue school. There were days when I thought, this is where God is leaving me, but he is making a way.
I will continue to hold on the faith I profess because the one who promised is faithful (Heb 10:23). I have come this far by faith, and I know God will continue to lead me on. The journey is not done, the story has not yet ended, but like Abraham, I will follow God until I get to the land that was promised.
Ashea West is a Doctor of Medicine, which she recently completed after studying in Grenada and New York. She is from Manchester, Jamaica and had left her hometown to chase her dreams in the medical field. She is passionate about sharing the gospel, using whatever opportunities she is given. “I do believe in blooming wherever I am transplanted”.