Emily Spencer’s story is one of courage and determination. She first decided she wanted to become a doctor after she helped care for one of her family members who had dementia. Then, during her A Levels, she went on a holiday and contracted Viral Encephalitis.
Emily had to learn how to walk and talk again and suffered memory and sensory issues. She had to go back to school with extreme fatigue and concentration issues, but through unrelenting grit and determination, gained ABB grades at A Level. This wasn’t enough for an offer to study medicine but gained her a place with the University of South Wales to study Medical Sciences.
During her time in university, Emily faced numerous challenges. Soon after recovering from her previous illness, she was diagnosed with coeliac disease, which had a significant impact on her mental health. In the beginning of her second year, one of her relatives sadly passed away within a few months of being diagnosed with lung cancer with brain metastases. Then, in her third year, Emily moved home to support her mother and help care for another member of her family who was ill.
Emily flourished nonetheless and achieved 95% in one of her third-year assignments. She graduated with a first class honours degree and a place to study Graduate Entry Medicine at Cardiff University.
Speaking of Emily’s award, Lewis Fall, Course Leader of Medical Sciences at USW, said: “I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a more motivated student. Emily put everything she had into every test, piece of coursework and exam and I couldn’t be prouder of her. She has my most ringing endorsement for this award and I cannot wait to see what she can achieve in the future. She is a very, very special young woman.”
Emily said: “The journey to medicine for myself was never going to be straightforward. My secondary school told me that I could apply to medicine but to not get my hopes up. It was like cutting my dream short before I had even started. I wasn’t prepared to do that and nearly six years later, here I am!
“A GP on a recent placement told me that she believes I am going to be a good doctor because I have the ability to understand other people’s pain, because of what I’ve gone through in my life. I have had my fair share of obstacles to overcome to get to where I am today, but I can confidently say that I wouldn’t do it any other way.
“I would like to thank my parents, who believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. I would also like to thank all the friends and staff I met in USW - thank you for keeping me sane and for always being there for me when I needed it most.”
About the award
The BMA’s Sherman Foundation Fund was established with £5,000 donated by the Harry and Abe Sherman Foundation in 1968 to BMA Welsh Council to promote the advancement of research and education in medicine in Wales.
Welsh Council established a Trustee Committee to administer the fund and to decide how best to distribute accumulated money that fulfilled the aims of the original charter.
For many years the fund was used to support medical students born or resident in Wales to complete their electives projects, but in 2010 the committee, with Welsh Council approval, decided that the fund would support an annual award to encourage wider access to medical studies within Wales.
Funds for the Sherman Fund Award are raised via donations, which can be made at any time. There is also a donation raffle held at The Clinical Teacher of the Year Awards.
If you are interested in hearing more about donating to the Sherman Fund Awards, please email [email protected].
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