Celebrating Black History Month: Q&A with Roneisha Williams, Historian of the Black Medical Student Association
February is Black History Month, a time to honor achievements and celebrate excellence throughout the Black community. We caught up with Roneisha Williams, fourth-semester student and BMSA historian, to learn more about BMSA, their upcoming activities and how students can get involved, and what brought her to AUC.
During Black History Month, what kinds of activities or events does BMSA have coming up?
We’re doing a group photo shoot on Monday, February 14 with BMSA members. Representation is important to us, and what better way to build connections, have something to commemorate our studies and time together, and represent future physicians? We’re here, we’re doing it, and you can too.
Our second event is the BMSA Talent Show on Saturday, February 26. As part of the talent show, we’ll also be showcasing people of color who have had a huge impact on medicine, so we can get that information out there, help motivate other students, and share some history and what people of color have contributed.
What other initiatives are in the works with BMSA?
Right now, we are working towards partnering with the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA), a vocational school in Sint Maarten, to help mentor nursing students regarding careers in healthcare. The goal is to increase students’ exposure to the medical and healthcare field, show them what we do here on campus, and work on professional development. We’re really excited to mentor them while learning from them. As future physicians and nurses, we’ll be working together in the future, so why not grow professionally together?
How did you first get involved with BMSA?
I was introduced to BMSA in my first semester here at AUC. During second and third semester, I got more involved and became interested in joining the e-board.
BMSA feels more like a family than simply an organization. Since I first joined, I’ve felt like they cared about me as both a person and as a student. They’ve implemented a lot of things to support us – for example, there’s an academic coordinator whose role is to talk to professors and help be an advocate for student success, and there’s the social aspect with events like study breaks and trivia, as well as a focus on self-care and wellness. I love how BMSA promotes people of color and promotes positivity throughout the campus.
What does Black History Month mean to you as an e-board member of BMSA?
Black History Month is an important time for me. Representation is key: It’s a constant motivator to see where we have come from, how far we’ve come, and how far we’re going. Just knowing that there are people who have the same passions and background as me who were able to accomplish so much, helps motivate me that I can do it too. If you stay true to your passion, that could be you one day.
How did you become inspired to pursue medicine?
My mom is in nursing, so I grew up being exposed to medicine and volunteering in hospitals or nursing homes. I earned my undergrad degree in biology at Prairie View A&M University and was intending to go to medical school, but then I got interested in engineering, did my master’s in chemical engineering and worked as a chemical engineer for a few years before deciding that I wasn’t feeling fulfilled.
While I liked engineering work, and I’ve always been drawn to science and math, I didn’t feel the same level of satisfaction as I do when working with people and seeing the direct impact on their lives. That’s my passion. During undergrad, I volunteered at a nursing home and I really enjoyed having conversations and just building personal relationships with people. I also started an organization called “HALO,” which stands for Helpers Advancing the Lives of Others. We did a lot of initiatives to support education and healthcare, raising money for nonprofits, running canned food drives and feminine hygiene products to support women’s health, coordinating mentorship programs, and more.
What specialty do you see yourself pursuing?
I’m not sure, but I’m thinking of either OB/GYN or pediatrics. I have a three-year-old son, so I know what it’s like to be a parent working with your child’s pediatrician, and seeing the specialty from that perspective.
How can students get involved with BMSA?
Everyone is welcome to our events. Please feel free to come out! You don’t have to be a person of color to join BMSA, we want to be here for everyone. You can also connect with us on Instagram at @bmsaauc or email us at BMSA@students.aucmed.edu.