AHEC Scholars Spotlight: Kendrick Belardo

Kendrick BelardoAHEC Scholar Kendrick Belardo is a 4th year medical student at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Kendrick recently took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his experience as a medical student and an AHEC Scholar.

When did you know you wanted to pursue medicine as a career? Do you know what field you want to specialize in yet?

As the first in my family to attend college, let alone pursue medicine, I never thought higher education was an option for me. Growing up in a medically underserved and low-income community, the only interaction we had with medical professionals was when EMS would respond to calls in the neighborhood. Many individuals with chronic illnesses would wait until it was too late. I saw how diabetes and high blood pressure left individuals with renal dysfunction, blindness or worse. Even though I did not have an inkling for medicine then, I did know that I wanted to help people and make a difference in my community. In college, I was able to explore medicine and get involved in my community through volunteering in hospitals, disseminating cardiovascular disease prevention strategies in communities disproportionately affected and leading outreach programs providing free healthcare screenings to medically underserved communities. I saw how much of an impact I could have on those around me through simple education and conversation. It is the drive behind my pursuit in medicine and why I plan to utilize my education and training to give back to communities like the one I grew up in.

I plan to go into Emergency Medicine. Although it is not a primary care field, I believe there are a lot of opportunities left untouched for practicing preventative care medicine in the emergency department. Given that the ED is the first and last line of medical care for many individuals, I plan to utilize my past experiences and training in AHEC to help those most in need.

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to undergrad and what was your major?

I'm originally from Los Angeles; born and raised. I started off college at Santa Monica Community College where I worked 2-3 jobs to help pay for my education and eventually transferred to my dream school, UCLA, on a full ride. I majored in Integrative Biology and Physiology.

How did you hear about the AHEC Scholars Program?

Community service and outreach had always been a passion of mine in Los Angeles and I wanted to find new ways to help my community here in Detroit and broaden my perspective. My counselor recommended I attend an information session and the rest is history.

Can you please speak to your experience with AHEC Scholars—how has the experience been for you?

AHEC has been an amazing experience! The program focuses heavily on collaboration between different members on a medical care team from doctors and nurses to social workers and pharmacists. They strive towards creating a cohesive medical care team to treat patients truly holistically. They also focus on providing patient centered care to help fight against both rural and urban underserved health disparities. In the end, I believe AHEC has helped me better understand the challenges that underserved community members face here in Detroit and because of it I will be able to better care for my patients and improve their health care experience.