The halls of the Texas Tech School of Medicine sometimes feel a lot like the halls of Wylie High School back in 2015.
That’s because three Wylie graduates from 2015 and 2016 are currently together in Lubbock studying to be doctors. They are Elizabeth Brown and Shree Patel who graduated in 2015 and 2016 grad Shannon (Seale) Ward.
“It feels like we’ve come full circle,” Shree said. “It’s fun to see someone that I went to high school with. It’s just really cool.”
Shree and Elizabeth have known each other since 3rd or 4th grade, and even though Shannon is a year behind the other two, she and Shree traveled to a lot of math competitions together in Junior High. Shannon got to know Elizabeth in basketball.
They went their separate ways after high school but kept in touch.
Shree went to Texas Tech knowing she wanted to be a doctor and knowing that she would go right into the Medical School after getting her undergraduate degree.
“I was literally the girl who was in kindergarten telling everyone that I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up,” she said.
Her dad is a doctor, and he was her inspiration.
“I had a good idea of the lifestyle and what you had to sacrifice,” she said. “I was shadowing doctors in junior high. I liked the environment.”
Elizabeth said that when she and Shree were very young, they went to a birthday party where you were supposed to dress up as what you wanted to be.
“There’s a picture of us,” Elizabeth said. “Shree, of course, was dressed as a doctor, and I was dressed as a dolphin trainer.”
Elizabeth eventually changed her mind about dolphin training and was considering medicine when she graduated from Wylie. But she wasn’t sure. She went to Texas A&M as a biomedical science major and finally settled on being a doctor.
“I didn’t have one of those ahah moments,” she said. “It was basically just the sensible decision. I was doing well in my classes. I could see myself doing it the rest of my life.”
Shannon went to Baylor planning to be a nurse.
“This is not what I planned,” she said. “I did really well, and one of my professors had a meeting with me and said I think you should go on and be a doctor. I think you can do it. It planted a seed to switch majors.”
They all kept in touch during college and hung out when visiting family in Abilene. When Elizabeth was trying to select a medical school, Shree suggested Tech. A year later, when Shannon was trying to choose, Elizabeth suggested Tech.
“I was pretty convinced,” Shannon said. “She’s very convincing.”
Being at medical school with someone you know is very cool, they said.
“It’s nice to go somewhere and have people who understand where you came from,” Elizabeth said. “It’s a neat situation. When Shannon started med school, I requested to be her med school ‘big.’ So Shannon is actually like my ‘little’ here, which is super cute.”
Shannon said it is also super helpful.
“She counsels me on everything,” Shannon said. “There’s no way you could go through this without someone who has gone through it. She’s very helpful.”
The three future doctors said looking back, they realize how well Wylie prepared them for med school.
“I feel like a lot of teachers I had at Wylie High School provided this foundation for me to move on to try to be a physician,” Elizabeth said. Shree and Shannon agreed.
“You don’t realize how good a school Wylie is until you leave,” Shannon said. “Chemistry 1 in college was Mrs. Speer’s class in a nutshell. I walked through that class like it was nothing because she had prepared us so well.”
Shree said it was not just the academics but also the environment. She said her tennis community motivated her to succeed, not just in tennis, but in life.
“Whenever you are young, it’s hard to see the end goal and to see why you are putting all the effort in at that moment,” she said. “They pushed me a lot. It was a great environment to be in.”
Eventually the trio will split up again. Shree has decided to go into radiology and will have to leave Lubbock to do a residency. Elizabeth wants to be an orthopedic surgeon and will likely look for a larger city to do her residency.
Shannon is still deciding which direction to go, but she has a year longer to decide. She said that she, Shree and Elizabeth would like to encourage Wylie students to pursue their dreams.
“You can get there, and you can do it,” Shannon said. “Three girls from little ole Abilene are going on to do some pretty big things. We just want to encourage the younger generation to not set your goals low and to go on and do what you want to do.”
By Candy Reagan