Over the last year, our own Contributing Writer Tia Shah, has been writing an amazing column about trailblazing girls throughout history. This new Incredible Girls column is in that vein, only this column is about contemporary girls under the age of 25 who are doing awe-inspiring and significant things in the world. Every Friday in 2019, we are going to post a column detailing the life of an Incredible Girl and why you should know about her. Read on for a glimpse into the life of neurosurgery resident, Nancy Abu-Bonsrah.
One of the great things about writing this column is that there are no rules. I try to keep the girls featured under age 25, but occasionally there will be an exception to the rule, and Nancy Abu-Bonsrah is absolutely an exception. In 2017, the then-26-year-old became the first black woman to be accepted into the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s neurosurgery residency program. The school accepts three to five neurosurgery residents each year.
She moved to the U.S. from Ghana when she was 15, and she realized she wanted to become a neurosurgeon when she went back to Ghana during college and had the opportunity to observe at a teaching hospital.
Nancy told Teen Vogue that she found out on “Match Day,” where medical students around the United States find out if and where they matched for postgrad residency programs, which they have to complete before practicing medicine in the U.S.
“The first [emotion] was honestly amazement. I could not believe that right there, in that moment, I was going to be given this incredible opportunity to remain at Johns Hopkins to begin my neurosurgical training,” Nancy said. “Then came the joy and happiness.”
She reflected on seeing more minorities in her field, and what her achievement means for other young girls who perhaps want to go into neurosurgery as well.
“In every field, it is always a little easier to see yourself in a role if those you look up to look like you or have had similar experiences,” she said. “For me, this was the hardest part in my journey into neurosurgery, knowing there were not as many people who were like me.”