Success Story December 03, 2021 at 01:00 pm

How this Jamaican woman rose from waitress to neuroplastic surgeon in U.S. after 20 years

Mildred Europa Taylor | Head of Content

Mildred Europa Taylor December 03, 2021 at 01:00 pm

December 03, 2021 at 01:00 pm | Success Story

Dr. Kerry-Ann Stewart Mitchell is a neuroplastic surgeon scientist at the Ohio State University. Photo: Jamaicans.com

Dr. Kerry-Ann Mitchell left Jamaica at the age of 17 with $300 and a suitcase of clothes to attend college in the U.S. with the desire to become a doctor. After 20 years of training, Mitchell, who was born and raised in Gibraltar, St Ann, Jamaica, was offered a job last year at the Ohio State University as a neuroplastic surgeon scientist.

But it was a tough road to success. “My last full-time job was a waitress at BiBiBips Bar and Grill in Ocho Rios, Jamaica,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Every morning, I would wake up a 5 a.m., walk almost a mile to catch the bus from Gibraltar to Moneague, then another one to Ocho Rios, and an hour and a half later be at work by 7:30 a.m.”

She said that even though she loved her job at Bibibip’s Bar, it wasn’t her destiny but a temporary stop on her way to becoming a doctor.

Before her work at Bibibip’s Bar, she had met businessman Andy Chin during a high school event. She initially worked as a clerk with his construction company before started serving as a waitress at the Bibibip’s Bar so she could save money for college sooner, she said.

Mitchell was a gifted student. She had focused on the sciences and mathematics while in high school. Her mom was a housewife and her dad was an auto body shop worker. After graduating, she realized that her parents would not be able to pay for college. And that was how she decided to get a job and start saving towards college.

While working at Bibibip’s Bar, she met a college recruiter who told her that due to her excellent high school grades, she just needed to score well in the SAT exams to be eligible for a scholarship.

“I studied and took the SAT exams, obtained a scholarship from Benedict, and the rest as they say is history,” Mitchell told The Weekend Star.

Over the course of 20 years, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Benedict College, her medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine, and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Utah, according to Jamaicans.com. She completed a Neuroplastic and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship program at John Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Mitchell is a Post-Doctoral Fellow, a Neuroplastic Surgery Fellow, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons, and completed a six-year residency, Jamaicans.com reported.

A mother of two, she has received several awards including the American Medical Association Outstanding Scholar Award and Benedict College Board of Trustees Award.

“I’ve wanted to become a doctor for as long as I can remember,” Mitchell told The Weekend Star. “There were no doctors in my community. The closest hospital to us was located over an hour away in St Ann’s Bay. One of my brothers was ill during childhood, and I remember my parents having to rush him to the hospital multiple times. Those doctors saved his life and reinforced my determination to become a physician myself.”

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