A beacon of hope for her family
Wana Mathieu’s winding path to becoming a doctor began in Haiti, where she was born. A return to Haiti for her grandmother’s funeral in 2017 — and witnessing the island’s lingering devastation from the 2010 earthquake firsthand — helped clarify her course.
Having lived with her family in Arizona since she was five, Wana was stunned to see the slow pace of recovery. The trip crystallized her sense of purpose and direction: The third-year student at The Ohio State University College of Medicine decided to return to Haiti to help once she became a surgeon.
Many of Wana’s family members are still living in challenging conditions. Her medical education is important to them, too. “I do think that I am, for them, a beacon of hope,” Wana says. “We were able to get out of a situation and do something better with our lives. I could potentially go back and not only help them, but encourage them to do something better with their lives.”
An outreach effort such as this would not be Wana’s first selfless act. After completing her undergraduate degree and before starting medical school, she devoted two years to helping others. She spent one year assisting a family member in need and another working full time as an AmeriCorps volunteer in St. Louis, helping a largely African-American patient base find homes, receive treatment for HIV and learn to live independently.