Years of hard work finally paid off for this mother-daughter duo who just made history for graduating medical school at the same time and matching at the same hospital.
Dr. Cynthia Kudji and her daughter, Dr. Jasmine Kudji, were delightfully surprised during Match Day last month, after learning that they will both be working at LSU Health in Louisiana – Cynthia in Family Medicine and Jasmine in General Surgery.
It was especially thrilling for the duo as they spent years studying medicine apart. Cynthia was in St. Kitts and Maine at the University of Medicine and Health Sciences while Jasmine went to LSU School of Medicine in Louisiana.
Starting July 1, 2020, they will be together once more, living their lifelong dream of becoming doctors! With that, Cynthia and Jasmine made history as the first mother and daughter to attend medical school simultaneously and match at the same institution.
Cynthia, originally from Ghana, West Africa, became pregnant with Jasmine when she was a 23-year-old student. As she was about to have a child, Cynthia had to put aside her dreams of becoming a doctor. She eventually worked as a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner for almost a decade before deciding to attend medical school.
She didn’t always plan on becoming a doctor. When she was a little girl, there were very few African American physicians on TV.
“I remember when we were young there were TV shows like ‘The Cosby Show’ and ‘A Different World,’” Cynthia said. “Seeing African Americans in college or being successful was like firsts. So, for me it wasn’t like ‘Oh, yes, I want to be a physician’. It was more like, ‘Oh, no, can I really do this? Or, ‘Am I smart enough to do it?”
Cynthia came to the United States when she was two years old, and it was during a trip back to Africa when she figured out what she wanted to do in life. Once when she was in the village with her mom, somebody walked up to them to ask for help. She said her child had a fever and was ill. Cynthia remembered doing everything they could to bring the child’s temperature down. When it was all over, she asked her mom how the kid fared, and she responded, “I don’t think the child did very well.”
Even at a young age, Cynthia felt so frustrated that the mom had to come to a stranger to gain access to health care. The only thing she thought could change the situation was to become a physician herself.
After researching many schools, she ended up choosing UMHS.
“What really caught my eye was the whole personalized education because I felt I needed support being an older student and one that would cater to me and I was really drawn to the small class sizes,” she said.
As a non-traditional student, Cynthia encountered many challenges. Since she hasn’t been in school for a while, taking in all the information she was getting was a lot harder. She also has the responsibilities of an older individual. Even if she was busy, she had to be present as a mom whenever her daughter needed something.
Jasmine also had to overcome difficulties of her own, especially since she lives so far away from her mother, who’s also her best friend.
“I think initially it was difficult because my mom and I have always been really close so I had to get used to the distance, we had to learn how to FaceTime and Skype each other, so we were Skyping each other every day and whenever I had struggles and she had struggles, we just had to learn to communicate from a distance,” Jasmine said. “But I think over time we figured it out.”
Thanks to technology, Cynthia and Jasmine were able to keep their bond strong. After years of being apart, they’re both excited to embark on a new chapter in careers together.
“I always tell people we laugh together, we study together, we cry together,” Jasmine said. “I think medical school is one of those experiences that you don’t truly understand until you’re in it. Sometimes people struggle to find someone who relates to their struggles, so for that person to be my mom was extremely helpful.”
Congratulations, Dr. Cynthia Kudji and Dr. Jasmine Kudji and watch their story below: