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Nana Adenu-Mensah

First-year MD student

Where did you grow up and where were you living immediately prior to medical school?

I grew up in Takoradi, a beautiful coastal city in the Western Region of Ghana, about a four-hour drive from the capital city, Accra. If you’ve never been to Ghana, you should visit! It definitely is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world- especially around the holiday season in December. My parents raised my three siblings and I in a very loving home, surrounded by family, great food, and meaningful relationships. Throughout my childhood, they deliberately emphasized the power of education and the endless possibilities we could achieve if we worked hard at school (and read all the books in our local library). With that in mind, I decided that exploring educational opportunities in the USA would be a great way to experience diverse cultures and people, and to expand my horizons. I moved to New York for college, and then graduate school, and it was an awesome learning experience! Now, having been at YSM for about 6 months, I have already added so much color and meaning to this beautiful journey I am on.

Why did you choose Yale School of Medicine?

Yale was at the top of my list for several reasons. First, I had a great introduction to Yale’s community during my interviews with very accomplished, passionate, and kind faculty and staff. Students I spoke to were also very warm and seemed happy to be here. Thus, YSM felt like home to me even when I only got to meet people virtually, and that feeling of belonging and inclusion still holds true today. I am surrounded by some of the smartest, kindest, most thoughtful faculty and students, and this has made my experience very rich. Second, back to my theme of exploring endless possibilities, YSM checked all those boxes for me. The Yale System in its entirety supports innovative thinking and the capacity to achieve personal goals in several areas in addition to a phenomenal world-class medical education. This is all to say that I was sold! The level of flexibility in the curriculum and the plethora of exciting projects and activities available are quite unmatched. In fact, having the option to jumpstart research with a matched mentor through the START summer research program was a unique opportunity I surely had to be a part of. I had a lot of fun that summer, built great relationships with my classmates and lab members, and settled into New Haven before classes started.

Can you briefly describe your schedule on a typical weekday?

You’ll quickly realize during the pre-clerkship months that students are either class-goers, non-class goers, or a bit of both- only a few classes on our schedules are mandatory. This, again, speaks to the flexibility we have to build schedules that best suit our very different learning styles. I usually start my day pretty early, make myself a cup of coffee, and look through the day’s schedule to prepare for workshops, team-based learning activities, labs, or browse lecture slides quickly as our schedule varies quite a bit from week to week, and between courses. Being the frequent class-goer (and occasional non-class goer) that I am, you would typically find me in class at 8am in the morning until about 12pm. We have a lunch hour every day from 12pm to 1pm, and I either grab a delicious meal from one of the numerous food carts across the street with my classmates, or head to one of the many meetings I attend as a member of the YSM Medical Student Council. Typically, we get two free afternoons in the week, and you would find me in a library getting work done, or volunteering (there is a lot to do at YSM and in New Haven!). On the other three afternoons, we have different clinical skills experiences, anatomy lab sessions, or some other elective. My school day usually ends at around 4pm every day. I usually spend my evenings catching up with family, especially at home in Ghana, studying and/or getting bubble tea with classmates, joining in student group activities, and recharging for the next full day.

What neighborhood do you live in/near New Haven?

I live in Downtown New Haven on Park Street, with just a 10-minute walk to the medical school and hospital, seven minutes if I power-walk. I rent a one-bedroom apartment in one of the Yale-owned buildings on campus, in a pretty convenient location close to The Shops at Yale, and a short walk to East Rock and Wooster Square. I can easily access many of the famous New Haven pizza places you have probably heard about. which I think tastes great! There are also many nice restaurants and coffee shops in the area, as well as museums like the Yale Center for British Art, and historic buildings tourists visit Yale to see.

What is your favorite thing to do in/near New Haven?

My favorite thing to do in New Haven has been to take long walks around the campus and beyond- there’s always something new to see. The Yale campus is refreshingly beautiful! The architecture is awe-inspiring and even the Grove Street Cemetery is like an antique historical garden that gives you a peek into the lives of many great people. I also enjoy hanging out with my classmates and exploring the many dining options here- my favorites have been the brisket pizza at BAR, butter pecan ice-cream from Arethusa, and Thai milk tea with honey boba from Loose Leaf. While I completely loved living in New York, I have surprisingly not gone back as much as I thought I would. There's still so much to do in New Haven, and I look forward to hiking in the Spring and Summer, and checking out the many beaches and sites in surrounding towns.

Do you have any final thoughts or advice for prospective students?

YSM is truly a special place. I feel blessed everyday to be a part of such a wonderful community that prioritizes the wellbeing of students and provides immense support and guidance in any capacity that students find personally and professionally meaningful. If this sounds like an environment you’ll thrive in, then YSM is the place to be!