Ayita Verna
Miami, Florida
Undergraduate Degree:
Neuroscience, University of Miami

What made you want to get your MD degree at WVU?

I was in Miami for 8 years and I knew that I wanted to get away from the distractions of the area for medical school. When I was looking at the east coast for schools I liked WVU for several reasons. I liked it because it was competitive and they have a good match rate and a lot of organizations for us to be involved in. I am particularly interested in Global Health and Rural Health and WVU has those tracks so I thought it was a good fit. The interview was also perfect! It was relaxed and they allowed me to be myself. I remember that it was a cold and rainy day and but I forgot about the cold the whole time I was inside the school for the interview.

What made the program so appealing?

I really liked the Rural and Global Health tracks. When I got my acceptance letter they talked about the rural track and I decided to join it. It was one of the best decisions I made. Before my first year I got to do an externship on the Eastern Campus. I will be on the Eastern campus for my 3rd and 4th years and it was nice to spend time there before school started. I also got to make some new friends too. I applied for the Global Health track in the second semester of our first year and I’m excited about it. If you are in that track you get to do 2 international rotations your 4th year.

What is your favorite part of the program?

I like the curriculum and how we have classes with small groups like our PBL (Problem Based Learning) and CLG (Clinical Learning Groups) groups. I really like CLG a lot since it teaches us how to be a doctor. I did not have those foundations before medical school so I am grateful for them now. We get to work on taking blood pressures and that is something I will need. I also like the simulations and how we get to use our stethoscopes and listen to heart sounds. The faculty is always willing to help you too. I have never had a bad experience with them and I try and go to office hours when I can. They are really here to help.

What makes the eastern campus unique from the others?

I have never seen the Charleston Campus and I’m currently on the Morgantown Campus for my first 2 years. I’ve seen the Eastern Campus from my externship and I am excited about being assigned to that campus. When I was there for my externship we had a surgery and I was able to see the entire thing so close up. I’m thinking I will have more exposure and could even be a first assist on the Eastern Campus. I’m excited about it. You also have the option of doing rotations in Morgantown since you see more trauma related events on that campus. So I’m able to really get to see everything.

What made you want to become a doctor?

When I was growing up in Haiti, I was exposed to a lot of poverty in the country. My family was infected with diseases that they were not able to treat because of the resources and money. I started doing mission trips and medicine became closer to me. It started to become something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My dad also passed away from cancer and it made me want to pursue that career. I really feel happy when I am helping patients during volunteering or mission trips.

How do you balance your home, school, and social life?

The first semester was a harder transition for me since I took a year off. I had not studied in a while. It was a little abrupt, but I had to figure out how to study. I like the block weekends since after an exam we have the weekend off so there is downtime. This semester I have given myself more time to adjust and I have done more yoga at home and at the gym. It is a good way to relax from the stress of school. I also find time to hang out with my friends and watch Netflix.

What is it like being on the MD Curriculum committee?

Honestly when I got the e-mail I was not sure what it was. I asked a friend and she did not get an e-mail. It is me and one other person from the class. When I attended Drs. Cottrell and Ferrari were there along with other important people. It was a positive experience and being around these people taught me more about the school. We discussed adding more electives in the 3rd year curriculum and I knew before others. It keeps me a step ahead and I am able to network with the doctors and professors.

What do you think about the school's community service requirements?

I think it is a good idea because honestly I have been more involved in things than if it was not a requirement. I’m involved in project MUSHROOM where we feed and take care of the homeless in Morgantown. The requirement pushed me to do more and opened my eyes. I am also involved in MED Stay which I took part in when I was in my interview process. It helps the applicants and is good for everyone. I have volunteered in festivals and we get to serve others. I am not from here so I am able to experience more in town.

Have your international experiences in Haiti and Paris, France helped you in medical school?

I grew up in Haiti and moved to the United States when I was 14 years old. It was the best thing ever. My entire family is from Haiti and we moved because of the violence. In Haiti, I was exposed to a lot of poverty and it really opened my eyes and learned about human fragility and resilience so when I started doing mission trips, it allowed me to choose medicine as a career. I also did a study abroad in Paris and I would recommend studying abroad to everyone. It opens your mind and gives you another perspective. You get to learn about different cultures, face challenges, and are able to see what you can overcome. I was able to find my way out and learn more about myself. I hope I can go back to Paris one day.

What are your goals after graduating?

I am not sure what I want to do yet. I think it is normal and I came into medical school with an open mind. I’ll figure that out when I do my rotations. I know that I want to be involved in global health no matter what I do.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of school?

I like to watch Netflix, do yoga and hang out with friends.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about medical school?

I would tell someone to get the most experience that you can before you apply. It is the only way to know that it is really what you want to do. Medical school is difficult and you can get experiences that will confirm this is what you want to do. It will also look good on your application.

- Interviewed as an M1 student in March 2016