Lavada Smith

Photo for Lavada Smith

“OMD gave me different paths to take,” she says, “now I have the strength to look forward to the future without any doubts.”

When OMD alumna Lavada Smith applied to the Bridges to Baccalaureate program last year at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she knew she wanted to be a doctor but, beyond that, her vision was murky. After six weeks of intense research under the guidance of Dr. Karen Vucovic, Lavada is now determined to get her MD/PhD so she can perform both clinical and lab work in her career.

During the program, Lavada studied the factors affecting minority participation in cardiovascular research. “Although minorities die at a higher rate from cardiovascular disease,” Lavada explains, “they are less likely to participate in research.” Through her research, Lavada discovered that low minority participation in medical research is largely due to a lack of education and minorities not fully understanding clinical jargon.

Lavada first presented her findings at the UIC Symposium and later flew to Tampa, Florida in November to present her research and represent the program at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.

Contrary to her findings, Lavada clearly understands the clinical jargon and is determined to only increase her education. “OMD gave me different paths to take,” she says, “now I have the strength to look forward to the future without any doubts.”

Want to hear even more about Lavada's incredible journey? Listen to her StoryCorps, featured on WBEZ, here!