Marshall High School student to be honored as future medical leader in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, October 30, 2014
Aliah Clair prepares for her future when she will visit Washington D.C., Nov. 14-16, as she has been nominated by the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists to attend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders. (Jesse Brown/Democrat-News)

Aliah Clair, a 17-year-old junior at Marshall High School, has already suffered so many setbacks and injuries throughout her young life. However, she is taking that experience to help her forge a path in her future chosen profession.

In no better fashion than she could have imagined, Clair has been nominated to attend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Washington, D.C., from Friday, Nov. 14, through Sunday, Nov. 16.

"It's a real honor to be chosen by somebody who cares and knows what I want to do eventually in life," Clair said. "... I really hope that it kind of narrows down where I want to go. I can always change what I want to do, but I feel like going on this trip will really confirm if I want to do that or not."

According to a press release from the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, Clair was nominated by Dr. Connie Mariano, medical director of the academy, to represent the state based on her academic achievements, leadership potential and determination to serve humanity in the field of medicine.

The congress, the press release continues, is an honors-only program to "honor, inspire, motivate and direct the top high school students in the country who aspire to be physicians or medical scientists."

Clair's dream is to become an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, helping athletes recover from injuries, just like the numerous one's she has suffered from.

"Especially with all the knee injuries and stuff that I've already had, I feel like I can really relate to those people," she said.

Junior Aliah Clair goes on the attack during the Lady Owls' district semifinal win over Southern Boone Tuesday, Oct. 21. Clair's numerous injuries in her athletic career has inspired her to become an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. (Chris Allen/Democrat-News)

Currently, she is only a member of the Lady Owls volleyball squad, keeping her sports activity to a minimum. But since middle school, the number of injuries she has suffered playing various sports includes broken ribs, organ contusions and ACL tears. She said this experience helped her along the way to choose to go into orthopedic surgery.

"Honestly, I just thought the experience was so cool even though I was on the bad end of it," Clair said. "I just thought the way they approached me, the way they took me under their wing, kind of told me what was going on, how I can help it, was really cool and I thought that would be something I'd really enjoy when I get older."

When most would find the idea of recovering from an injury a terrible ordeal, Clair reveled in it. Her fascination in the medical field has been prevalent in her ever since she was five years old watching medical shows that would disgust most children her age.

"She would watch the 'Rescue 911,' ... and emergency room shows," Penny Clair, Aliah's mother, said. "She would watch delivery shows where they deliver babies ... those were the shows she liked to watch."

Penny saw her daughter's interest in the medical field not only by the shows she watched, but also when she would play doctor at a young age drawing out a detailed chart.

Clair said she plans to start her pre-med attending the University of Missouri - Columbia for her undergraduate degree. From there, her desire is to transfer to Emory University at the Savannah, Ga., campus.

"I feel real confident going into it," Clair said. "I feel like I've done my research, I know what to expect and hopefully this broadens my vision of the medical field in general, about all the opportunities job-wise, occupations, all that kind of stuff. So then if something ever does change, I always have something to lean back on and really know more about what I'm going to do in life."

The National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists was chartered as a nonpartisan, taxpaying institution to identify, encourage and mentor students who wish to devote their lives to the service of humanity.

"This is a crucial time in America when we need more doctors and medical scientists who are even better prepared for a future that is changing exponentially," Richard Rossi, executive director of the academy, said in the press release. "Focused, bright and determined students like Aliah Clair are our future and she deserves all the mentoring and guidance we can give her."

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