Yvonne Thomas G'23
Within each of our Bay Path community members is an inspirational story of perseverance and strength, and we are honored to share them. This narrative originally appeared as part of Bay Path's #MyPath on social media.
“Growing up in Kenya, I saw a lot of disparities and family members passing because they didn't have access to medicine. I knew I wanted to help bridge that gap. And then coming to Springfield, MA, and living in a country where you think everyone gets everything, yet still seeing similar disparities... This experience pushed me to want to do this even more.
“I debated between a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Physician Assistant (PA) degree for a long time. I chose PA because, as an older student, I wanted to get my degree and make an impact as soon as possible.
“Community outreach is one of my passions. I've done a lot of volunteering, everything from food pantries in Northampton, Not Bread Alone, GEAR UP, and the Black College Tour. When I looked at Bay Path, I enjoyed learning about its commitment to outreach. I also liked their emphasis on self-care.
“I joined in June 2021. It's been stressful, but that's the program, no matter what. And I've been very well supported. In my second semester, ten family members passed away within a month. It was so crazy. But the staff looked at me as a person, not a student or a number. They did constant check-ins, allowed me to turn things in late, and even allowed me to take an exam later.
“At the PA program, you can ask any question. They'll teach you until you get it. We go system by system. For instance, we'll do cardiovascular for two weeks.
We'll go through all the cardiovascular system diseases, symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments. And we have other classes, like public health, where we talk about social determinants of health and how to help an underserved community.
“Bay Path offers so much more than just the learning experience. They teach you how to go out in the world, and if you’re at your job, start your own outreach program. They give you tools to do more than be a PA.
“After I graduate, I hope to work in Springfield, hopefully at Baystate, as a PCP (Primary Care Provider). I want to work with Marie Meckel, a Bay Path lecturer who does outreach work outside of the country. She does a lot of work providing care to the underserved, and she's trying to start up a program for PAs in other countries. I want to work with her, go back to my home country, and do some work." - Yvonne Thomas, Physician Assistant Class of 2023 #MyPath