At just 13 years old, Alena Analeigh Wicker has achieved an accomplishment that could take many people up to a decade to reach. The 2022 Global Child Prodigy has been accepted into the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Heersink School of Medicine and made history as the youngest Black person in the country to ever be accepted into medical school.
“Statistics would have said I never would have made it,” she captioned an Instagram post celebrating her accomplishment, which included a photo of her acceptance letter, on June 30. “A little black girl adopted from Fontana California. I've worked so hard to reach my goals and live my dreams.”
Wicker graduated high school only last year at the age of 12 and is nearly halfway done with her undergraduate studies at Arizona State University and Oakwood University. She told Black Enterprise she hopes to complete her undergrad studies by the time she reaches 18 and wants to become a doctor. Now, at just 13, her acceptance into University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Heersink School of Medicine makes her the youngest Black person to be accepted into medical school, NBC affiliate KPNX reports.
Initially, Walker wanted to pursue an engineering career with NASA and even interned with the government agency at 12 years old. (She also made history as NASA’s youngest intern.) But instead, she decided to shift gears and study immune system responses to viruses. “It actually took one class in engineering, for me to say this is kind of not where I wanted to go,” she told 12News. “I think viral immunology really came from my passion for volunteering and going out there engaging with the world.”
“What I want from healthcare is to really show these underrepresented communities that we can help, that we can find cures for these viruses,” she added.
In her celebratory Instagram post, Wicker thanked her biggest motivator and supporter: her mother. “I couldn't have done it without you,” she wrote. “You gave me every opportunity possible to be successful. You cheered me on, wiped my tears, gave me oreos when I needed comfort, you never allowed me to settle, disciplined me when I needed. You are the best mother a kid could ever ask for. MAMA I MADE IT!”
“You always believed in me,” she added. “You allowed me space to grow and become, make mistakes without making me feel bad. You allowed me the opportunity to experience the world.”
In addition to her academic accomplishments, Wicker is also the founder of the Brown STEM Girl foundation, which gives scholarships to students of color pursuing STEM careers. She is currently fundraising for her STEM Abroad program in which she will be taking girls, ages 12 to 17, to the Art Science Museum in Singapore. Wicker announced on Instagram that she is looking to sponsor one more girl.
Representation matters to Wicker and she is looking to not only achieve these accomplishments for herself but other Black girls like her. “I want to inspire the girls. I want them to see that there are no limits,” she told 12News of her aspirations.