From Pharmacy Tech to Medical School
Alief ISD Graduate on Her Way to Impact Healthcare
Rachel Obimah recently celebrated her acceptance into the University of Texas McGovern Medical School at the prestigious white coat ceremony where she received the lab coat she will don for the next four years.
Born in Alief, Obimah started her education at Liestman Elementary then to Youngblood Intermediate, Killough Middle School, Elsik High School and on to graduate from the University of Texas - Austin, majoring in biochemistry. In the top 1% of her college, Rachel was chosen by the Dean of her college to give the commencement speech for her recent graduation from the University of Texas - Austin.
A graduate of the Alief ISD pharmacy technician program, Obimah was destined for a career in healthcare. When she was little, her mom, a home health nurse, would sometimes take her with her as she cared for her patients. “Before I learned about love and friendship, I learned about taking care of other people. My mother definitely imprinted on me about wanting to help others and to be in the healthcare field,” says Obimah.
Alief ISD offers programs that a lot of other districts don’t offer. This year alone, Alief enrolled 140 students into clinical rotations, the most the district’s health sciences program has ever enrolled.
The difference between Alief ISD’s health sciences programs and other districts? Alief ISD’s programs are open to any student in the district who is in the health science pathway. Meaning that all students have an opportunity, not just the students who are in the Gifted and Talented program or top in their classes.
Obimah says, “I knew I was interested in medicine and healthcare in general, so I thought it would be smart to take advantage of the different tracks that Alief offers. I wanted to choose a track where I knew I could have a comfortable job, and I thought pharmacy was the best option for me.”
How did the pharmacy technician program help prepare Obimah to get into the medical school?
Through the high school health sciences curriculum, Obimah learned how to insert a catheter, take blood pressure, take vital signs and give IV fluids, giving her an enormous comfort level at an early age.
“One of our first exams in medical school was how to take blood pressure and I found myself at an advantage over my peers, because some of them had never taken one before and I thought that it was so crazy that I’ve been doing this since high school. I didn’t realize that everything that we learned in clinical rotations and pharmacy tech was going to be so relevant for the rest of my life,” says Obimah.
When she told one of her closest friends in medical school that she learned these skills in high school, her friend was in shock.
Obimah credits a lot of her success to the amazing support of her former teacher, pharmacy technician program instructor, Courtney Caesar, RDN, LD, CPhT. Mrs. Caesar has been there every step of the way. “Any time I’ve been discouraged, Mrs. Caesar has offered advice and offered counseling. She attended my graduation, my white coat ceremony, and anything else I have going on in my life. She’s a constant supporter.”
“Healthcare is a very difficult industry because there is so much to learn. I want my students to know that they have support and so I do everything I can to let them know that I support them,” says Caesar.
Every holiday Mrs. Caesar hosts mini-reunions with all of her “kids” where they can catch up with one another, talk through issues and just relax and play games.
“She’s definitely impacted so many students in Alief,” says Obimah.
Speaking of her students, Caesar says, “They are our future in healthcare, it is a blessing to be in this position and the number of students that I come into contact with each year is an opportunity to plant seeds. Once they leave me they are still my kids. I tell them once they are a Caesar kid, always a Caesar kid.”
When Obimah got to the University of Texas - Austin, it was quite a culture shock. Not realizing that she was a minority because of the diversity surrounding her during childhood, it really hit home how Alief is such a special place. She also quickly learned about the disparity of access to healthcare and quality of healthcare between socio-economic classes.
Obimah hopes to practice in Houston when she finishes medical school. “If I’m going to be a doctor I want to be a doctor for people who need it most, so it would be an honor to be able to come back to Alief and pay it forward.”
Alief ISD graduate Rachel Obimah recently celebrated her acceptance into the UT McGovern Medical School.