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Daily Inspiration: Meet Alexius Russell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexius Russell.

Hi Alexius, can you introduce yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today.
I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on March 26, 1992. I was always advanced for my age, according to my mother. While applying to medical school in 2019, my mother reminded me that I made the bold statement at 3, “I want to be a doctor!” I knew little about what it would take to complete this statement, my reality. I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused throughout my childhood. The school temporarily allowed me to escape the chaos at home, and I excelled academically. At 16, I earned a scholarship that paid for my first two years of college as a dual-enrolled high school student. I was excited to start college early, and my goal then was to become a physician, but I decided to leave my abusive household at 18 and fend for myself. While working as a call center agent and juggling my coursework, I dealt with homelessness. Some nights I couch-surfed; on other nights, I slept in the college’s bathroom stalls. Focusing on school became increasingly harder, and my grades suffered.

My passion for helping others was birthed when I needed help the most. After surviving eight months without permanent shelter, consistent meals, or substantial income, I vowed I would always find a way to help the less fortunate. Enlisting in the Navy later that year was one of my best decisions as it allowed me to improve my circumstances and provided a pathway to achieve my goals. I wanted to be as close to medicine as possible; however, the Hospital Corpsman specialty was overstaffed and unavailable. I left for boot camp as an Interior Communications Electrician (IC). As an IC, I was responsible for the operation, maintenance, and repair of the cameras utilized to record the launch and recovery of aircraft on the ship. I deployed to the Arabian Gulf in 2015, working in temperatures exceeding a heat index of 165 degrees for nine months while providing 24-hour surveillance on every aircraft that departed and returned to the ship. I was a voice and representative for victims of sexual assault and harassment, trained hundreds of Sailors on various military policies, and completed a Bachelor of Science degree while serving on active duty. The Navy provided me the opportunity to learn about myself: not only how to lead, but more importantly, how to follow, how to pick myself up, how to start over after the death of a Sailor, and how to inspire others to accomplish goals they thought were impossible.

While working as an electrician, I needed more time to fuel my curiosity for medicine. Therefore, during my off hours, I sought mentors within the medical community who could provide me with a solid foundation of what it means to work as a physician. Throughout my 10 years serving in the Navy, I have accumulated a large network of mentors. Each one has contributed to my success and provided me with amazing opportunities. With no prior experience, I was afforded the chance to assist in multiple clinics and hospitals where I witnessed procedures ranging from vasectomies to chest tube insertions. I have been fortunate to interact with patients, empathize with them about their illnesses, and celebrate their cures and recoveries. Each clinical encounter I experienced further fueled my passion and desire to chase my childhood dream of becoming a physician. As I reflect on my journey, now that I am a medical student, I would not describe my pursuit of medicine as a sad story. Although my path toward becoming a physician could be considered “nontraditional,” I believe my varied and circuitous journey has given me skills and experiences that allow me to relate to the patients I aspire to help the most. It prepared me for the complex challenges ahead, instilled in me respect for all of humanity, no matter a person’s life, and fostered a lifetime of gratefulness and humility.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The road could have been smoother. I came face to face with struggles I would not wish on my worst enemy. Although I knew at a very young age, I wanted to be a physician. I met challenges at every stage that prolonged my journey toward getting there.

Thanks – so, what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I spend my limited free time coaching pre-med students through the process of applying to medical school. While applying, I quickly realized how complicated the application process was and how limited affordable resources were after meeting a group of underrepresented students applying in the same cycle as me but still needing their statements, activities, or recommendation letters finished. I decided to start a YouTube, Tiktok, and Instagram dedicated to helping pre-med students called: Becoming Dr. Russell. Through these social media networks, I have been able to answer questions, teach workshops, and offer mock interviews and application reviews to many eager pre-med students. I love seeing people excel, and if I can help, I will do so.

How do you define success?
Success is defined as the difference your carbon imprint makes in others’ lives. It is one thing to accomplish goals and dreams that only serve you, but it is another to create opportunities for others.

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