By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
In 2013, he received his high school diploma from Whitefish Bay High School, in 2017, he graduated from Denison University with a degree in biology, and in 2021, he will complete medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW).
His name is Na’il Scoggins and he’s known since the sixth grade that he wanted to be a doctor. Being a doctor is a way for him to give back to his community and in his own words, “to uplift people often neglected by those in power.”
Scoggins grew up in the 53206-zip code, but attended school in Whitefish Bay thanks to the Chapter 220 program, which allows students from inner-city neighborhoods to enroll in suburban schools.
As a child turned young adult, he grew up straddling two worlds: one of privilege and one of disparity. His upbringing gave him an insight into how aspects such as race, economic status, education, safety, access to parks and healthy food options impacted one’s health.
He observed the implications of growing up in the 53206-zip code compared to the 53217-zip code and how they varied depending on these factors. Bearing this knowledge in mind, Scoggins became more determined than ever to become a doctor. He found it to be, “the perfect way to combine my inquisitiveness for medicine and the human body.”
In order to achieve his dream and follow his passion, Scoggins enrolled in a pipeline program at MCW, designed specifically for minority high school students that granted them access to a world of research and medicine.
Scoggins participated in two programs at MCW. During high school, he enrolled at ROADS (Research Opportunity for Academic Development in Science) and later during the summers, in between his terms at college, he participated in DSHREP (Diversity Summer Health- Related Research Education Program).
“In college [it] gave me access to medicine and research,” he said. “Which was fundamental in allowing me to grow as a premedicine student.”
Jean Mallett, the program manager for ROADS and DSHREP, explained that the existence of MCW’s programs began in 1989 with Apprenticeship in Medicine (AIM). Two years later in 1990, they added ROADS and DSHREP.
According to Mallett, it was a way for MCW to foster an interest in medicine and research in the youth, and specifically those who are underrepresented in medicine.
“Na’il will likely be one of the medical student mentors who teach this program during summer 2018,” said Mallett.
Participating in these programs allowed Scoggins to develop his ever-growing passion and knowledge, it also gained him access to MCW’s faculty, staff, and students.
“I gained access to like-minded, underrepresented students interested in medicine and research who have become colleagues and friends of mine,” Scoggins remarked.
Although he’s always been a hardworking and dedicated student, Scoggins said that it’s his family, friends, mentors and community that keeps him motivated and keep him encouraged along the way.
His mother is one of his biggest supporters. Scoggins and his mom share an interest as she too works in healthcare. He explained that his mom passed on her knowledge and connected him to physicians in the area.
Through these connections, enrollment in the pipeline programs and MCW, Scoggins gained the opportunity to see what he could do with his degree. Among these ventures included shadowing pediatricians and neonatologists— areas which greatly interest him.
“I like the challenges that I have seen” he said. “Like working with parents and families and being able to solve problems that the patient cannot tell the physician.”
If he chooses to study and subspecialize in neonatology then he will have to complete a three-year fellowship after he finishes a three-year residency in pediatrics.
Amidst those goals, he plans to be an advocate, “for those people who have very few advocates in power.”
“I also really hope to mentor and inspire others underrepresented in medicine and science to pursue these careers,” Scoggins said.
Although 2021 is a few years off, Scoggins has already proved himself as a strong leader in his field, and a fearless advocate among his community.