UNC-bound early college grad hopes to pursue medicine across the globe

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Recent Wilmington Early College High School graduate Brandon Johnson plans to travel the world helping others as a surgeon. Photo courtesy Brandon Johnson.
Recent Wilmington Early College High School graduate Brandon Johnson plans to travel the world helping others as a surgeon. Photo courtesy Brandon Johnson.

Ahead of traditional commencement ceremonies this weekend, Port City Daily is honoring the Class of 2015 with a look at some area graduates–their achievements, challenges and hopes for the future.

The first in our installment is a student who actually walked across the stage a couple of weeks earlier than some of his area peers.

Brandon Johnson recently received his diploma–and an associates degree–through Wilmington Early College High School (WECHS). The 17-year-old, who has aspirations to work in the medical field, shared with Port City Daily his desire to help those in need.

What do you plan to do after high school?

The Fall of 2015 I will be attending UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in Health Policy and Management, with a concentration in Epidemiology and a minor in Medical Anthropology.

What led you to that choice? How long have you known it was what you wanted to do?

My passion in life is spreading love and caring for others in their desperate need. I am and have been interested in cardiovascular thoracic surgery, and all surgical disciplines, ever since middle school.
I have always had a dream to travel the world and be a surgeon, and last year I was introduced to Doctors Without Borders, a program where doctors of different disciplines help people worldwide where the need is greatest. I have a motto of my own that I love people to spread and that is to have H.O.P.E (Hundreds of Opportunities Prospering Everyday).

When students become interested in diverse healthcare careers it is mainly due to a personal story…and I have one of my own, also. About two years ago, my grandmother was found at her job unconscious without a pulse. After being rushed to the hospital and put into the Surgical Trauma ICU (STICU) many nurses and doctors attempted to resuscitate her…She was considered dead due to severe heart palpitations, causing her heart to beat too fast and skip off rhythm.

I remember vividly when my mother was asked to make the decision to pull her cord…but she denied [it] and minutes after her decision, the nurses notices a weak pulse. And from that moment we knew that everything was going to get better. My grandmother just recently had a birthday on April 28 and she is doing better than ever. My interest in heart surgery grew stronger due to this life experience with a relative close to my heart.

I currently volunteer at New Hanover Regional Medical Center as an ambassador for the Surgical Pavilion and also as an Endoscopy Base Unit attendant.

What are some of your proudest moments in high school? Some of your hardest challenges?

Some of my proudest moments in high school were working with the amazing faculty, who spend countless hours and days to make sure that we succeed. There is no word to express such gratitude I have towards every one of them.

The hardest challenge I experienced from WECHS was the transition from middle school to the rigorous honors courses that we consecutively took the first two years.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

My fondest memories from high school were the two big picnics we had in ninth and tenth grade. We were awarded superlatives and academic awards from our teachers.

What are you most looking forward to in this next stage of your life?

As an early college student, once we have attained our associate’s degree, we have two academic years left of school until receiving our bachelor’s degree. I decided to stay at UNC for three years so that I can take one year to study abroad in South Africa, Melbourne, Australia, Hong Kong, China and London, England. I am extremely passionate about further broadening my knowledge in the area of public health in the world, eventually leading me to become a cardiovascular thoracic surgeon traveling the world as a ‘doctor without borders.’

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or hilary.s@hometownwilmington.com.