American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine is proud to announce that Antiguan citizen Samantha Thomas has been elected Class of 2014 co-Valedictorian.

Ever since high school, Samantha wanted to become a physician. While studying, she found she had an aptitude for science and enjoyed learning how the body works. She also realized that becoming a physician would be a great way to give back to the community while doing something she was passionate about.

She acknowledges her parents, Duke and Janice Thomas, and her brother, Orlando, for their unwavering support as she pursued her dream. When she was only 15, she enrolled at American International College of Arts and Sciences – Antigua (AICASA) to begin her fast track to earning an MD. At AICASA, she prepared herself for the rigorous workload to be expected in medical school, which got her into the mindset of a medical student. “AICASA provided me with a strong foundation for studying medicine,” said Thomas.

Upon graduating as valedictorian of her class at AICASA, she was accepted to AUA, where she was exposed to diverse cultures she wouldn’t have otherwise encountered while living in Antigua. This gave her a new perspective on medicine. “Exposure to numerous cultures and various ways of thinking made me a more well-rounded person and improved my understanding of medicine,” said Thomas.

While studying on the island, she devoted her free time to giving back to the Antiguan community. She participated in AMSA health fairs, where she provided basic medical examinations to her fellow Antiguan citizens. “Volunteering was a great experience,” said Thomas. “It’s humbling when people look to you for answers that affect their health and quality of life.”

When she began her clinical rotations, she had a difficult time adjusting to life in the U.S. She had never been away from her parents or home at length and had to assimilate to a different culture quickly. Fortunately, she stayed with family while completing her rotations. During this time, she realized it was essential to study medicine in the United States. “I want to sharpen my skills here before returning home to serve my community,” said Thomas.

She was elected Class of 2014 co-valedictorian because of her 4.0 GPA and impressive STEP scores. She thanks her parents, friends, and family for their encouragement while she worked hard and achieved her goals, including becoming valedictorian of her class. She plans on applying next year for a surgery residency but, ultimately, wants to practice in Antigua. “I want to return home to advance healthcare in my country,” said Thomas.