NEW ORLEANS – After graduating from Xavier University with a 4.0 average in both chemistry and pre-med, Asia Matthew went looking to beat the odds. She wanted to enroll at the prestigious University of Massachusetts Medical School in a selective, eight-year program where you concurrently earn a PHD and MD.
It’s a rigorous program where you earn the doctor’s degree simultaneously with a PHD in biomedical research.
However, only the best get in. Hundreds apply and the school annually interviews only 40. From that group, between seven and ten are chosen.
“I was nervous,” she admitted. “It’s hard not to be. This is the one thing that I’ve wanted for a long time and when you see it almost at your fingertips, you don’t want to do anything to let it slip.”
Asia beat the odds and got accepted, a great coup for her and Xavier. But Asia isn’t making the journey on her own. Her twin sister Ashley is going too.
They’re identical twins and were dealing with the idea that they’d be separated for the first time in their lives.
“I was ecstatic,” said Ashley. “My sister and I were jumping up and down and we fell over and ended up tripping each other because we were so happy. We didn’t think it would happen and it did.”
Not as surprised was Dr. Terry Watt – their professor and mentor – who saw their skills, work habit and motivation first hand.
“It’s exceedingly difficult to get into an MD/PHD program and the odds that both of them would get in anywhere were extremely low,” he said. “We’re all very proud of them for the effort they put in to do it. It’s well-deserved.”
Two sisters from the same school getting two of the handful of spots that were open, and, to top it off, they both are going on full scholarship.
Their plans for the long run, are to give back with their patients and their research.
“I want to be able to see my patients,” said Ashely. “But, I also want to be able to go into the lab and make influential progress that’s going to help my patients in the long run.”
Someday they also hope to open a hospital for the less fortunate.
“Just to open up a hospital that would be dedicated towards that – that should be anybody’s goal,” said Asia.