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The Book That Inspired Me to Become a Doctor

students in uniform sit around a table in the library looking at a book
By 2nd Lt. Charles Booth, U.S. Army, USU Class of 2022

I’ve always loved to read. When I was about 13, the book that grabbed me was The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream, written by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt. My father’s friend recommended it to me. The book tells the story of survival and friendship. It details how a trio of young black men made a pact in high school to find a way to go to college and then to medical school, promising each other they would become doctors, sticking it out together to attain that dream -- and they did. Today, they are all doctors who continue to inspire other inner city children to take the educational route to a better life.

And today, I continue to reflect back on how this book has inspired me on my own journey to become a doctor.

Booth in civilian attire sitting on a wall
Army 2nd Lt. Charles Booth in May 2018 in Spokane,
Washington. (courtesy photo)
The first time I read this book, I finished it in about a week. I went back to re-read certain parts more than once. It was that interesting and that inspiring. These men came from dire circumstances, but nobody expected anything good from them since they lived in really rough neighborhoods and contended with discrimination, violence, drugs, poverty, etc. Somehow, they found a way to overcome it all.This book was a reminder that you can still succeed in life, despite coming from hard circumstances. And if these men could overcome those conditions, there’s no reason I couldn’t. My greatest obstacle, though, was my confidence in myself, and for me, that has been the most formidable obstacle I have overcome in my journey to becoming a doctor.

Even though my background wasn’t like the doctors’ in this book, I still had a deep appreciation for their clear message of perseverance and hope. I actually come from a middle-class, two-parent family. My parents were very supportive of my dreams and whatever else I wanted to do. They were hard working individuals who got up and went to work every single day, and they set a good example for me and my little brother.

Ever since I was a kid, I had an interest in science. And despite only seeing doctors in hospitals and on TV -- and knowing that only six percent of physicians are black -- I felt compelled to become one. I was drawn to this profession. At first, I went the pre-dental route and had a job shadowing a dentist. I found that I really couldn’t picture myself as a dentist, but when I had the chance to shadow doctors, I knew that was the right fit for me. As I shifted to pre-med and began focusing on medicine, my interest in science and thirst for knowledge was better quenched. That was what I was meant to do. And when I applied to USU, I was sure to mention this book in my personal statement, describing its inspirational value in my life.

Now in my first year of medical school at USU, I often think about this book, my life, my level of self-confidence, where I am now, what my feelings are, what I think of success and achievement, and where happiness is on that spectrum. Although this first year of medical school has been all-consuming, it’s been an awakening of sorts, and it’s been extremely rewarding. I also think back to how I got into medicine and how difficult it is to get through medical school and to be successful. I can only imagine how hard it was for those three men in the book, especially since that took place in a different time.

Like those three doctors in the book, I also want to inspire and work with others from disadvantaged communities. And that is also part of why I wanted to become a doctor in the first place — to help my community and to help others. I want to work with lower income communities and minority communities. I want to offer mentorship to high school students who may be interested in medicine. I simply want to be a positive role model. I also aspire to set up a scholarship, one day, for black men in medicine -- something that I found hard to come by while I was going through college.

students in uniform sit around a table in the library looking at a book
Army 2nd Lt. Charles Booth, a first-year medical student at USU, studies with his classmates in the university library. (photo by Akea Brown)

But for now, I am finding what works for me, and how to succeed in medical school. I’m currently in my fourth module: neuroscience. I’ve probably tried at least five different ways to study, and am still trying to figure out a way that works best for me. I’m also trying to balance a social life, trying to stay healthy, trying to take better care of myself, trying to stay on top of my personal fitness, and trying to learn responsibility with it all. It’s a lot of hard work, but has been a fulfilling experience. When I feel discouraged, I think back to what I went through applying to medical school, and how that weighed so heavily on my mind. I just wanted to get in, start working, and be that much closer to my dream. The book isn’t all about earning a medical degree, it’s also about strong friendships -- and I often think about my own friendships I’ve developed through school, and how those friends have inspired me to keep going, and have helped me to overcome my struggles and reach for my dreams -- they were always there for me and always had my back.

Whenever times get hard, I think back to those friendships, the process of getting into medical school, and this book -- and I know I’m exactly where I want to be. I will continue to make the best of it, I will get through it, and I will keep moving forward, just as those three doctors did -- and I will earn that MD degree.