Senior biomedical science major Jahfarie Wisdom will be a first generation graduate working hard to set an example for his younger siblings and cousins back home in Kingston Jamaica.
“Everyones looking up to me,” Wisdom said. “Now all my cousins and my sister want to go to Plattsburgh.”
Wisdom said he had a difficult time adapting to the environment at SUNY Plattsburgh at first. The weather was a big change as was the American school system.
“When I first came here, I cried for like three weeks straight because I was like, ‘I want to go home, I miss my family,’” Wisdom said. “But I had the help of my professors and my roommate, and I made friends here so everything was smooth sailing afterward.”
Biology Lecturer Megan Valentine has had Wisdom as a student for over two years and is one of the people who helped him adjust. .
“As a student, he takes his work very seriously and is very persistent to make sure that he understands the material.He is a very good communicator,” Valentine said. “He’s big on family, big on friends, he’s supportive, works well independently, works well with others.”
His 17-year-old sister and 10-year-old brother are his biggest inspirations.
“I just think ‘OK they’re going to follow in my footsteps, so I need to lead the way for them,’” Wisdom said “So if I make a mistake I can say okay this is where I went wrong I don’t want you to make this mistake, I want your life to be better.’ They are my biggest support group.”
Wisdom grew up watching ‘A Baby Story’, A TLC show that follows couples through their final weeks of pregnancy and delivery, with his mother. Wisdom said his mother planted the thought in his idea that he would become a surgeon.
“At first I wanted to be an obstetrician, and then I went to neuro and now I’m thinking cardiothoracic.
He was recently accepted to his dream medical school, American University of Antigua.
In addition to being a teaching assistant for three classes, being a part of the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir and being a community advocate in Moffitt Hall, Wisdom interns at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, working with mental health patients.
Last year he had a patient named Betty who he worked with until she died.
“It was really touching, I got to meet her family, and we cried together,” Wisdom said. “They were like, ‘Oh my god you met my mother, it was only a month, and my mother spilled all of the beans.’They were surprised at how much I knew about their family.”
In addition to becoming a surgeon, Wisdom plans to set up a scholarship fund at the primary and high schools he attended along with some of his friends who also went there.
“Our school basically shaped us and made us who we are,” Wisdom said.
Wisdom is also passionate about helping people diagnosed with HIV.
“People I am close to were diagnosed with HIV, and it really changed my perspective on things,” Wisdom said. “I know there are a lot of organizations in Jamaica, so I’ve been thinking, OK how could I collaborate with them and spread awareness.’”
Valentine said Wisdom is receptive to feedback and doesn’t get upset or hurt when a challenge arises.
“He is a dedicated, intelligent, motivated student who will go far in this world.” Valentine said.