Imagine going to medical school at the University of Virginia full-time and driving to Washington, D.C. on the weekends to work 12-hour shifts as a nurse. One standout student who took on that challenge during her first year is now just days away from graduation.
Mazvita Simoyi proves hard work pays off through her determination to help others. The 27-year-old medical student hopes to follow her father's footsteps and eventually work to save lives back home in Africa.
Simoyi has known she's wanted to be a doctor since she was just 5 years old. As she flips through family photo albums, she recalls a vivid memory from her father's practice in Zimbabwe.
“When I was 5 years old, he brought me into an operating room to watch a tubal ligation, so it was really amazing. I still remember it. I still remember seeing the anatomy and him showing me the anatomy,” Simoyi said.
Now, more than two decades later, Simoyi's parents are in Charlottesville to watch her take a huge step toward her dream.
“I picked up my parents from the airport last week and I think that was the first time that it actually hit me that I am graduating. I am going to be a doctor. I look up to my father so much, and he greeted me and said 'Hi, doctor' and I almost started crying,” Simoyi said.
The road to a medical degree is never easy, but Simoyi's path had some extra challenges - especially in her first year of school.
“Twelve-hour shifts Monday, Saturday and Sunday - so I'll drive up on Thursday afternoons after classes, after some studying and start working Friday 7 a.m. and on Sunday night after giving reports to the next shift, drive down back from D.C. and was back in Charlottesville around midnight,” Simoyi said.
Simoyi admits the experience was overwhelming at times, but she wouldn't have done it any differently.
“Although it was hard, I really enjoyed working as a nurse because I was able to apply the basic science information that I was learning immediately, so I would be studying while I was at work,” she said.
Simoyi hopes to apply these skills back home someday.
“I do want to practice in Zimbabwe. I do want to go back, give back to my country, help the patients there that I've seen my father work with, also help the community,” she said.
After graduation, Simoyi will be heading up to Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she will work in the field of general surgery.
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