I was born in this country.
My passport is that deep maroon that we are all so familiar with. Yet I am the proud daughter of two immigrants. While English is my first language, it is not my mother’s tongue. In fact, the blood that runs within my veins contains so much more than I will ever know.
My grandfather was an Islamic scholar, although many would call him illiterate. Yet my parents have as many degrees between them as I have pairs of trainers. The progression that my past possesses began before my time – I am merely a chapter in its story.
In many ways, I was not the first. But in so many more ways, I am.
The first to be born here. The first to go to school here. The first to apply to medical school. Ever.
While my story is one like countless others, it is my duty to tell it as there is a beauty which is shared between us – people who are both paving the way and following the path expected, all at the same time.
The combination of ‘you’d better go to medical school or else’ coupled with ‘well done, you are going to be the first doctor in the family’ in the stern but loving African tone that these statements are often uttered with is rather like riding a rollercoaster – terrifying and exhilarating all in one breath.
The crossroads where we sometimes find ourselves between culture and career are both a blessing and a bump in the road.
The question of ‘how’s school going?’ is quickly followed by ‘and when are you getting married?’ What was once a source of frustration has morphed into a deeper understanding of knowing where I belong in my family history, both through pushing the boundaries of what was achieved before me, and sitting comfortably in the well-worn shoes of those who I aspire to follow.
An example of this would be taking a medical school exam in the morning and then taking my grandmother to the doctors because ‘I understand all that stuff'.
The dichotomy of these experiences is in no way new but, in the world we live in today, it is not the norm. Realising that I do not need to crucify one side of me to nurture the other confers a confidence which allows me to get comfortable with the fact that I am not the first, I am merely the first in this way.
The biggest blessing in feeling like the first is knowing that this doesn’t mean I’ll be the last.
The person who builds the bridge is the first to walk it, and their courage instils confidence in the thousands who will follow in their footsteps.
If we all waited until someone else had gone ahead of us and achieved everything we wish to achieve, then the first person to sail the seas would have planted their feet firmly in the sand and observed the waters from the shore.
Each one of us holds the keys to unlocking a million doors, and if you are ever concerned about your own capabilities just remember, you have come so far to get to where you are, and this is only a fraction of how far you will go.
You may be the first, but you will never be the last.
My name is Jasmine Rutere, and I am on my way to becoming the first doctor in my family. But by no means does this story end there.
Jasmine Rutere is a second-year medical student at The University of Manchester