Thursday, 20 January 2022 10:45

Big dreams lead RichmondCC grad one step closer to medical school

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Richmond Community College graduate Morgana Viana, who moved to the U.S. from Brazil, will be applying to medical schools this summer. Richmond Community College graduate Morgana Viana, who moved to the U.S. from Brazil, will be applying to medical schools this summer. RichmondCC

HAMLET — Richmond Community College graduate Morgana Viana is not afraid to dream big. Big like leaving her native country of Brazil to come to the United States of America to become a medical doctor. 


Viana graduated from her high school in Brazil in 2018. She moved to the U.S. to study medicine and be with her family, who lives in Rockingham.

“RichmondCC has a very family-friendly atmosphere, and we thought that would help me to adapt better, as well as being a better place to start my academic life in the United States,” she said. “Moving to another country by itself was a big challenge. Not speaking English fluently also made things a little harder. However, the faculty at RichmondCC was extraordinary.”

Not only was she an international student, Viana is also a first generation college student. Neither her parents nor grandparents attended college so the whole process of getting enrolled in higher education, let alone the American education system, which is very different from Brazil’s, was all new to her. Viana said everyone, from RichmondCC’s registrar, Cayce Holmes, to counselor Crystal Shaw was caring and patient with her and her limited grasp on speaking English. 

“RichmondCC has an amazing faculty. I could mention many professors that made a difference in my academic life. One of them was Mrs. Jamie Baldwin Thomas, an outstanding English professor who encouraged and supported me. She was always very attentive and helped me to improve my English significantly,” Viana said.

A Focused Student

Viana also left quite an impression on her instructors, including biology instructor Stephen Beck, who was also her advisor.

“It is remarkable that she took seven science classes in three disciplines at RichmondCC and earned a grade of ‘A’ in each of them,” said Beck. “My impression of Morgana is that she is a brilliant student and focused on her goal of becoming a medical doctor, but modest about it. And she is a very kind person.”

Viana graduated in May 2021 from RichmondCC with an Associate in Science-Pre-Medical degree. She is now majoring in biology with a molecular track at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke.

“I took science classes as electives at RichmondCC because I was already aiming to transfer to a bachelor’s degree in biology from UNCP. I was thinking about what classes could I take at RichmondCC that I would also need at UNCP,” Viana said.

She received help from Director of Career & Transfer Services Patsy Stanley in determining the best classes for her to take that would transfer to UNCP and get her closer to her goal of being a doctor.

Preparing for Medical School

Viana will be taking the MCAT this summer. She is also working on other requirements for the medical school application such as shadowing hours and community work. At RichmondCC, she was a member of the Student Government Association, and now she is serving as a Chancellor’s Ambassador at UNCP. She also likes to practice Brazilian Jiu jitsu, which she is currently a blue belt.

Viana wants to stay in North Carolina so she has been looking at the medical schools at Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest. 

“At UNCP, I have been working on research on Alzheimer’s disease at the Bahr lab, where I had the privilege to work under Dr. Ben Bahr’s mentorship. I would love to keep doing research while in medical school. Cardiothoracic surgery and emergency medicine are two of the medical fields I am mostly interested in,” she said. “I am aware that medicine is not only a job, a profession, but a way of life. It is going to be a big part of my life and honestly, I can’t wait for that!”

The Value of Education

Viana said her parents are her greatest inspiration. Even though they never went to college, they put a lot of value in education.

“They encouraged and supported me since I was a little kid to always seek for knowledge. As they always say, ‘Nobody can ever take your knowledge from you,’” Viana said.

Viana also described coming to RichmondCC as a “milestone” in both her personal and academic life. 

“I am sure I was only able to progress and achieve academic excellence thanks to the structure that RichmondCC gave me,” she said. “I would most definitely recommend it to any person seeking to pursue their academic goals.”

Viana has a favorite phrase from Machado de Assis, a Brazilian author, that states: “Do not be afraid to dream big and never get there. Be afraid to dream ordinarily and achieve your dreams.” 

Viana is definitely on the path to achieving big dreams.

There’s Still Time to Register

More spring classes at RichmondCC are starting Jan. 27. Visit the Hamlet or Scotland County Campus to meet with a counselor and register your classes or call 910-410-1700. Visit www.richmondcc.edu to apply online.