Rivka Ihejirika is a third-year medical student from Los Angeles. She is the recipient of the Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship and the James Edward Holloran Scholarship, established by the Class of 1980.
Q. When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?
A. When I was a little kid, I was always curious about what was going on inside my body. If my stomach hurt, I wanted to know what caused it to hurt. If I skinned my knee, what made it bleed? How did the skin heal? When I was in high school, I had an opportunity to dissect a cadaver in anatomy class. Being able to take out a person’s heart, learn how they died, and understand what could have prevented that death made me want to become a doctor.
Q. As an undergrad, you attended Davidson College, a small, liberal arts school in North Carolina, but not as a pre-med major. Why?
A. While I wanted to take pre-med classes, I really wanted to take advantage of Davidson’s liberal arts program. I decided during my first year that I would engage in the majors I really enjoyed and I would defer my pre-med classes until later, so I majored in Psychology and Chinese. I got to study abroad in Taiwan where I did research with Taiwanese aboriginals. It was a great experience. I did my post baccalaureate pre-med program at Harvard for a couple of years afterwards. It was perfect, as I could wholeheartedly focus and do as well as possible. It worked out really well for me in that regard.
Q. What do you like to do in your free time?
A. I love to sing, dance and rock climb. I go to Climb Nashville, which is a great way to free my mind. Around the house I am really into gardening and DIY. I love to take on large projects. I am about to build a dining room table made from reclaimed lumber.
Q. Did your scholarship influence your decision to attend VUSM?
A. It definitely made a difference. I really liked Vanderbilt. When I learned about my scholarship award I was really excited. I was overjoyed because that meant that the school was investing in me.