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Destiny Realized

Growing up, Jackie Whitehead liked to push the limits. Sometimes, she pushed too hard and would find herself in the emergency room, often with referrals to an orthopedic surgeon to fix broken bones. Those who believe everything happens for a reason will completely understand this is why Jackie is now enrolled at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry as an Upstate Accelerated Scholar - on her way to becoming a doctor.

Jackie Whitehead in a pumpkin patch. She is wearing a brouwn sweater and her hair is in a bun.

"All that time I spent with orthopedic surgeons piqued my interest," said Jackie. "In high school, I shadowed an orthopedic surgeon. I was pretty sure that was what I wanted to do."

She kept an open mind, something she encourages everyone to do. When she visited ESF, she met Dr. Lee Newman and her outlook changed.

"She shared an important perspective," said Jackie. "It was a perspective I hadn't thought about before. The environment is changing. It's shifting a lot and has a tremendous impact on people. She talked about the opportunity to look at a person's surroundings and consider how it impacts their health and vice versa."

With this new knowledge, Jackie enrolled at ESF as an Environmental Health major and an Upstate Accelerated Scholar. But, she's added a twist. Jackie expects to complete her bachelor's at ESF in three years (she came to ESF with college credits earned during high school) and will complete a master's in public health at Upstate before beginning med school. If all goes as planned, she will earn a bachelors, MPH and MD in eight years.

"This path will let me help people make the best of their situations," said Jackie. "I was injured a lot when I was young. I saw my mother's life change after a car accident. These events - and environmental events around us - change our world and our attitudes and impact our mental health. With these degrees, I will be able to help more people attain a better quality of life."