The average age of students heading to medical school may be 24 years old, but that didn't stop 13-year-old Alena Analeigh Wicker, who was recently accepted to the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Heersink School of Medicine for 2024, according to the Washington Post.
Alena was accepted as part of the university's Burroughs Wellcome Scholars Early Assurance Program, which is a partnership between the medical school and HBCUs across Alabama that provides early acceptance those "who meet the requirements for acceptance and matriculation," according to the UAB website.
"I’m still a normal 13-year-old," Alena told The Washington Post. "I just have extremely good time management skills and I’m very disciplined."
The teenager shared the news of her acceptance on Instagram, where she currently has nearly 38,000 followers. She mentioned in the caption that she graduated high school last year at age 12 and is currently a junior in college.
The Washington Post noted that Alena is currently "a student at both Arizona State University and Oakwood University, where she is simultaneously earning two separate undergraduate degrees in biological sciences."
She appeared on "Good Morning America" on Thursday and spoke about accomplishing her goal at such a young age.
"After I was accepted, it was the most amazing moment," Alena said. "Just knowing that I've reached the goal of getting into medical school at this age was amazing for me."
Alena said she hopes to become a viral immunologist to help underrepresented communities.
"A big part of what I want to do is viral immunology, and I want to advocate for underrepresented communities that lack health care," Alena said. “It’s something that I’ve become passionate about.”
Alena isn't only focused on the classroom, as she started the Brown STEM Girl about a year and a half ago, "an organization aimed at providing opportunities for girls of color interested in exploring careers in STEM." She also told The Washington Post that in her spare time, she enjoys playing soccer, running track, singing, cooking, and going to the arcade with friends.
"It feels amazing to be able to create a path for girls that look like me," Alena said. "It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can do it. Don’t let anybody tell you no."
Alena also credited her success to her mother, Daphne McQuarter, who said that "she was reading chapter books" at the age of 3.
"My mom is amazing. She gave me opportunities more than things," Alena said. "She taught me to think beyond and see beyond. For me, that was the best experience."
"We’ve had such an amazing relationship because I always gave her the space to be a kid, grow, make mistakes and learn," McQuarter said. "She knew she always had a voice in anything, including her education."
In her Instagram post announcing the acceptance, Alena continued thanking her mother for everything she's done for her.
"I've worked so hard to reach my goals and live my dreams," Alena wrote. "Mama I made it. I couldn't have done it without you. You gave me every opportunity possible to be successful. You cheered me on, wiped my tears, gave me Oreos when I needed comfort, you never allowed me to settle, disciplined me when I needed . You are the best mother a kid could ever ask for. MAMA I MADE IT!"