Spring 2011
Student Spotlight

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Leah Sherman with son, Dakota

Leah Sherman reads from the Harry Potter series with son, Dakota. Photo by Laura Levin

Son inspires mom to attend medical school

Originally from Lebanon, Ore., Leah Sherman, Class of 2013, graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2009 with degrees in biology and psychology.

Synapse: As a medical school applicant, you were older than most of your peers. Was this an advantage or disadvantage and why?

Sherman: It was an advantage because prior to medical school, I was already involved in parenting, full-time employment, full-time school, research and physician shadowing.

I feel participation in these activities taught me essential time management skills and engendered the discipline required for success in medical school.

It was a disadvantage because I believe had I started medical school at a younger age, I would have enrolled in the M.D./Ph.D. program.

Synapse: What inspired you to apply to medical school as a nontraditional student and a single mom?

Sherman: I was always drawn to medicine, but wasn't in the position to pursue it. When my son was old enough to go to school, I went back to school myself to receive my undergraduate degrees and then applied to medical school. Many people tried to discourage me because of my circumstances, but I knew I could succeed in medical school.

Synapse: Talk a little about your son.

Sherman: My son, Dakota, is 11 years old. He has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. I have worked extensively with him, and he has fought hard to combat this condition. He is currently in the regular classroom and on honor roll.

Synapse: Did his condition influence you to become a medical student?

Sherman: I think I already had an interest in medicine, but his medical condition confirmed this for me.

Synapse: What is your particular area of clinical or research interest and what steered you toward it?

Sherman: I am currently interested in surgery because it results in an immediate improvement in the patient's quality of life.

Synapse: Talk a little bit about balancing the demands of medical school and raising a child.

Sherman: It definitely has been challenging at times. There were many situations that arose at my son's school that required my immediate attention.

In those cases, I had to put my son first and make up my school work later, after the situation had passed.

My son values my getting an education and tries to be as helpful as he can around the house. We really approach most things, including my education, as a team effort.

I think, however, that having a child while attending the University of Nevada School of Medicine keeps an individual grounded and aware of the priorities in life.

Synapse: Where do you see yourself professionally in 10 years?

Sherman: I am currently exploring my options in surgery and can foresee myself in a surgical specialty and conducting research.