Fourth-year Upstate medical student Khalia Grant paused for a moment before responding to a question about her undergraduate years at Smith College in Massachusetts.
“It was so long ago,” she said Friday afternoon, smiling and still enjoying Match Day festivities at Upstate. (Graduating medical students around the country learned Friday where they’ll spend the next several years as medical residents. Upstate’s graduating class, like many others, produced a “happy” video to mark the day.)
Khalia enrolled in Upstate in 2007 and completed her first two years of medical school. She then took time off to deliver her youngest son, and returned to Upstate three years later. After Khalia graduates in May, she’ll stay at Upstate to begin her medical residency in pediatrics.
“I built a real community within pediatrics, and have great relationships with every attending physician,” she said. “It’s the only place (among her clerkship sites) where it felt like home.”
Khalia always wanted a career that involved children, but she didn’t know she was headed for medicine until her junior year of college. As an education major with a concentration in art, she studied abroad and worked with hospitalized children in Jamaica.
Khalia liked it so much, she changed her thesis and focused on pre-med courses. The Poughkeepsie native completed some post-baccalaureate work at SUNY New Paltz to finish prerequisites for medical school.
“College is not the place to decide how you want to spend the rest of your life, even though that’s what it’s intended to do,” she said. “It’s really not the place to find yourself. … When I was 18 to 22, I had no idea what I wanted to do.”
Khalia marvels at the many medical students who set their sights on medicine early on and never waver. Even though she’s a few years older than many of her classmates, Khalia sees those intervening years as an investment in herself and in her family.
She’s happy she took the path she did, comparing those years to “stopping and smelling the roses.”
Khalia is looking forward to spending the next few years learning and treating kids in Upstate’s Golisano Children’s Hospital. It’s a special place with a positive environment fostered by dedicated people who simply love children, she said. “You feel great staying there and working there for the whole day.”
Khalia also chose to stay in Syracuse because her three children, ages 4 to 10, are already established in school and preschool. “It made sense for me to stay,” she said.