December 11, 2023



Sometimes it takes a village to pick you up and dust you off

-Says recently graduated medical doctor

Dr. Arlene Andries (left) being presented with her certificate from Georgetown American University

“I did several things again; quit once, quit twice, completely gave up a third time. I did a thing and prayed for a sign. I did a thing and found some strength. I did a thing and asked for help and was motivated and surrounded by people who reminded me that I can do this.”

Those were the words of recently graduated Medical Doctor Arlene Andries, who hails from Linden. Her journey was not without stumbling blocks and storms but the mountain of support and inspiration she received from her village was what enabled her to get up every time she fell. Andries recently graduated as a medical doctor from the Georgetown American University. Her journey however does not stop here as she now prepares for her internship and studies to become a neurosurgeon. Throughout her primary and secondary school stints, Dr. Andries was always a top performer, hence getting into medical school was easy, however completing the course seemed difficult for the young woman. “Five years became seven years and I even quit along the way but thanks to my parents and brother, they reminded me that I can do this. Staying was the tough part because finance has always been an issue, and accommodations or the fatigue of travelling every day.”

Rewinding to what inspired her to pursue medicine, she revealed that the inspiration came from home circumstances and she envisioned contributing to medical science. “My uncle was in the hospital and my grandmother took me to see him one day and he had me running around the hospital and pushing me in a wheelchair and the next day he died. I remember I had to miss school for his funeral and I couldn’t understand why or how people die and that you don’t see them after death. My grandmother too would mix all these concoctions when someone had a cold or fever and they worked and I always wanted to know why. So science became my thing.”

Dr. Arlene Andries

Academic success was always a priority in her home. From a tender age, her mother instilled the importance of same, more so that financial constraints did not enable her to complete secondary school. “I liked listening to stories of her growing up and how amazing her primary and secondary years were but because of not having enough money for exams, she had to drop out at form four, so I promised that I’ll go as far as I could with her help.

Maybe enrolling into medical school was taking it a bit far for her mother’s pocket, but seeing her mother’s determination to provide financially despite finding it hard to do so, also motivated Dr. Andries to not let her sacrifices go to waste. To persons in her situation, Dr. Andries advice to them is don’t let your current circumstances deter you from dreaming big; things change along the way and most journeys started, have a successful finish. “Have big dreams and set big goals and put yourself in situations that would make it easier and surround with those who share similar goals. Nothing good comes easy so be prepared for hard days, unexpected barriers, and days when there are no motivation. Be disciplined to yourself and your dreams,” she advised.

As she starts her journey to become a neurosurgeon, Dr. Andries does not have all the answers for this new journey figured out but she is keeping her eyes on the prize and that is performing brain and spinal cord surgeries in the next five years.