If my mind can achieve it and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve itJesse Jackson
People often ask us what motivates The Armitage Foundation to want change so badly, so this is my story! It is a testament to the Jesse Jackson quote above: my mind believed it, my heart conceived, and guess what? I achieved it!!
I decided that I wanted to become a trauma surgeon when I was 15 years old. One day, I was travelling home when I saw a helicopter had landed on a grass field in the middle of an estate close to my home. Anyone who knows me well knows that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE HELICOPTERS! So it was not long before I found myself squeezing through the crowd to get as close as possible to the action. My joy soon evaporated when I realised why the helicopter had landed: a young man had been stabbed and was probably on the brink of death. That evening I went home feeling really grieved inside. Although I did not see the young man, because an ambulance had taken him, I felt sad in my heart. I was also frustrated because I felt so very helpless. I wondered who out of the crowd of witnesses was going to try to make a change? Who was going to stand up for others in my community and help stop the knife and gun crime issue that was plaguing the city…?
After some thought, I decided I would aspire to become a trauma surgeon. WHY? Because I believed it would give me a platform to go into environments where young men may have been affected by knife and gun crime, in the hope of inspiring them to aspire to be and do better. This is where my story began.
Deciding that I wanted to become a trauma surgeon might have been considered very daring for someone coming from my background. Like many students, I faced a lot of challenges, not least the ones listed below:
- Growing up in a single-parent home
- Growing up on a council estate
- Coming from a family of zero medics
- My mother was not well educated
- Only one of my mother’s five children had been to University
- My own self-doubt and false perceptions – even today I suffer from imposter syndrome
- The doubt of people close to me – nobody believed I could achieve my dreams because “people like me” didn’t become doctors
- Friends who weren’t that focused – they were too busy having fun to work hard!
Despite these challenges, I decided that I would stay committed to the vision in my heart. My first step was to google what I needed to do to become a doctor. After doing so, I realised I needed to get good grades at GCSE. I therefore set myself the goal of achieving 10A*’s and to my surprise, that is what I got!
Following my GCSE success, I was awarded a 100% Bursary (like a scholarship) to study my Sixth Form education at Mill Hill – a boarding school in North London . After my first year of A levels, I applied for medical school and unfortunately was rejected from every school I applied to with no interviews!
I was devastated that nobody would give me an interview. My heart felt crushed at this disappointment because it appeared as though the dream I had was faltering. However, I stayed committed to my vision! I took a Gap Year and reapplied to medical school.
This time round, I received 3 medical offers and decided to study at St George’s University of London. I was delighted to graduate in April 2020 – I am now Dr Leanne Armitage! I am not quite sure whether I still want to be a trauma surgeon, but this just makes my journey more exciting! I feel that I am on the path to success and on my way, I am determined to help other students like me get into medical school.
If you would like to know more about The Armitage Foundation, please get in touch. If you would like to support our work, please visit our donations page. We are incredibly grateful for any financial support, no matter how big or small; even a regular, monthly donation of £5 will help us to transform lives today and the NHS tomorrow.