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As Deion Sims enters medical school this fall at the University of Washington in Seattle, his undergraduate degree from Lipscomb University has prepared him to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor and to lead in the classroom and among his colleagues.
Kim Chaudoin |
After graduating from Lipscomb University in December 2018, Sims applied to medical schools across the country. This past spring the acceptance letters began to come in from the University of Tennessee, the University of Washington, Morehouse College, Meharry Medical School, the University of Louisville and the University of Iowa. Sims was accepted to six medical schools, and was excited about having the opportunity to choose from among multiple options. Lipscomb led the way in preparing Sims for this moment and is continuing to prepare other students every day to pursue their goals.
Throughout his journey to Lipscomb, Sims knew that a greater plan was at work even when it did not always make sense at the time it was happening.
Sims began his college education at Tusculum College in Tennessee in fall 2014. One week into classes, Sim’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. After completing the semester, he transferred to Columbia State Community College to be closer to home.
“Pretty much from January to July 2015 I was in and out of hospitals and doctors offices with my family constantly,” he says.
Over the next few months, Sims spent hours in hospitals with his family while his mother underwent treatments. Sims got a crash-course in hospitals and patient care. He started asking questions about why things happened certain ways and about medicines and treatment plans. He observed. He took notes. He had no idea at that time that those experiences would have a life-changing impact on his career path. In addition to his mother’s illness, his father and brother also were each dealing with the effects of an autoimmune disease.
While at Columbia State, Sims juggled school, work, going to the hospital with his mother and helping the family.
“I worked as hard as I could. I would bring my books and study in the hospital,” he says. “God provided and I got through it. I grew up so much in the year that my mother was sick and in that time of my life.”
Although Sims was pursuing a finance major, he began to consider the medical field for a career.
“I had always been interested in the medical field, but being a first-generation college student … the thought of going to medical school at a big university was very intimidating,” Sims admits. “But that summer I remember thinking that if God was calling me to this, He was going to open whatever doors needed to be opened and give me the confidence to pursue it.”
He was familiar with Lipscomb University’s reputation for a strong pre-med program, but he knew it would be a struggle financially with the mounting medical bills facing his family. A Lipscomb education seemed out of reach financially until he learned about the transfer trustees scholarship offered by the university.
“I applied for it and by the grace of God I got it. That’s how I ended up at Lipscomb … getting that scholarship,” he recalls. “I would not have been able to attend Lipscomb if I didn’t get that scholarship or one financially equivalent to it.”
Without the support of generous donors who lead by investing crucial scholarship dollars at Lipscomb, Sims may not have had the opportunity to realize his career goal and desire to serve others.
Two weeks before moving into the dorm at Lipscomb in August 2015, Sims’ mother died.
“I realized pretty quickly after she passed, the important things in life,” he says. “You can have all the money in the world but if you didn’t love people well while you were here on this earth I think you didn’t do it right. That fuels who I am, what drives me and what I feel my purpose for living is and why I’m here. A lot of that comes from her and the way she lived that out in her life.”
He credits her with being a major influence in his life. “I wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t in my corner,” he says. “She was an amazing woman who loved God and who loved her children. She never gave up on me and always spoke life into me.”
While at Lipscomb, Sims was part of medical mission teams, was a Ward Scholar, served as a resident assistant, was a founder of the Diverse Student Coalition, worked in the SALT office, served on the Respect Leads committee, was elected Bachelor of Ugliness (Lipscomb’s top male student honor) by his peers and was a mentor in the Joshua Project among many other activities. He also was a biomedical research intern at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“There have been so many people at Lipscomb who have invested in me when they didn’t have to in so many ways. Lipscomb gave me a chance. They gave me a scholarship that gave me the opportunity to get my education there. They had no guarantee of what the return on investment would be,” Sims says. “That was a huge blessing that comes with responsibility. I wanted to use my time at Lipscomb to invest in others just like they invested in me. For all that Lipscomb has done for me the least that I could do was give time, energy and effort because I was tremendously grateful for the opportunity to be at Lipscomb.”
To learn more about how you can make the dream of a college education a reality for students, visit lipscomb.edu/leads.
— Video produced by Josh Shaw; Photo in lab by Kristi Jones