Areisa Peters

Areisa Peters, first-year medical student at IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis

I was born in Trinidad, but grew up in Indianapolis and when I went to North Central High School, Ms. Tellas was my biology teacher and connected me with these programs. Areisa PetersI went to IU for two summers and did the Jim Holland program, then became a Lilly Scholar. That was my first exposure to research. Ms. Tellas has been a really big source of my encouragement and a really big advocate for me, even though I haven’t been in Indiana for the last four years because I went down south for school.

I chose an HBCU, Oakwood University, and I really think because of all the experience she gave me, I got a full ride. From the ages of 14 through 16, I don’t think there’s a lot of emphasis for young, black people to get into the sciences. Even if you were really into science as a kid, that’s the age you usually taper off. A lot of people want to be a doctor when they’re young, but it takes a really concentrated effort by your family and friends to say this is what you want to commit to. It’s not stereotypically fun, but it’s something that I could foster a love for and I think those two summers for me really fostered that love.

I was good at a lot of different things, but to choose science over everything else, I think that’s what those programs did for me. I want to stress that especially for black people in Indiana, to have a program like that is instrumental. Sometimes I look at my friends I grew up with, and our paths are so different. I was doing different things at that time, and I’m doing different things now. A program like this can really refocus somebody, even if they get off the path, and it was instrumental in me wanting to do a science-based field. Obviously, not just black people are in the program, but black and Hispanic students especially need a program like this.