Student Speaker Spotlight: Perpetual Essence Taylor

Taylor is an MD candidate and the medical school speaker for the 53rd UConn Health Commencement on May 6, 2024

Perpetual Taylor is a fourth year UConn School of Medicine student and a speaker at the 2024 commencement. April 16, 2024 (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Photo)

Why did you choose the UConn School of Medicine?

I chose UConn for its TBL curriculum, to be close to family and friends, familiarity with its Health Care Opportunities Program (HCOP), and the fact that they offered me the best financial aid package at that time.

Tell us more about your path to medical school.

To make a very long story short, I have wanted to be a doctor since childhood. When I was a preteen, my youngest brother was born with congenital heart disease that progressed and required open heart surgery. This made me want to be a pediatric cardiologist in the future. I attended Sport and Medical Sciences Academy in Hartford from 8th grade to my senior year of high school. They offered classes that were tailored to students interested in medicine. Afterward, I attended Southern Connecticut State University where I majored in biology and minored in chemistry. I had the opportunity to volunteer at Yale New Haven Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, a confirming experience for me to pursue medicine. I graduated in December 2019 and wanted to obtain a job with a patient care aspect. I found out about Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and became a behavior technician, working with a young boy with autism spectrum disorder to use ABA to teach him language, social, and fine motor skills. I worked in this role for the months leading to my matriculation at UConn School of Medicine.

What activities were you involved with as a student?

I am the type of person who prefers variety so while at UConn, I was involved in diverse activities. Volunteering to assist homeless people through Hands on Hartford, South Park, and my church’s sandwich run, past president of the Christian Medical Dental Association, past mentorship chair of the Student National Medical Association, crisis counselor through CrisisTextLine, Admissions Committee student representative, and more.

What’s one thing that surprised you about UConn?

If I had to choose, it would probably be the strength of our clinical training that starts from our second month of medical school as well as how we are prepared in professionalism very well.

What’s one thing every student should do during their time at UConn?

Try the cafeteria cookies- they’re really good!

Who inspired you to enter health care? Or who was your favorite mentor here and why?

My youngest brother who was born with congenital heart disease, my parents, my close friends, my advisors during undergrad, random people and patients I have encountered throughout life who spoke life into me and believed in me. I can’t choose any one UConn mentor in particular but the HCOP office, Dr. Linda Mathew, Dr. Rocio Chang, Dr. Hugh Blumenfeld, Dr. Bollepalli Subbarao, Dr. Victoria Urrutia, Dr. Michael Kisicki, Dr. Kristina Zdanys, Dr. Mario Fahed, Dr. Cristin McDermott, Dr. Edwin Zalneraitis, Dr. Steven D’Ascanio, Dr. Howard Tennen, the list goes on. They all worked and sacrificed to get me where I am today.

What are your plans after graduation?

I am attending a Pediatrics/Adult Psychiatry/Child Psychiatry residency at Brown. Long term, I see myself potentially pursuing a pediatric emergency medicine fellowship and working in a children’s hospital emergency room, stabilizing children and teens in medical and mental-emotional distress.

What’s one thing that will always make you think of UConn?

Not to be cliché, but it would have to be “the people.” I’ve made fond memories and lifelong friends through UConn.

What does being a part of UConn mean to you?

It means receiving excellent scientific and clinical training with the convenience of living at home.

What’s it going to be like to walk across the Commencement stage and get your degree?

Nerve-racking because I am a commencement speaker, haha! But also dumbfounding and exciting because I am still in awe that the time has finally come to receive my M.D.

Any final words of wisdom for incoming students?

Yes, many! Support, support, support: make time for God and your loved ones. Be involved in your community as much as you can: hopefully, your experiences will remind you of why you chose to pursue medicine in the first place. Constantly remind yourself of why you are studying for long hours and sacrificing a lot of time for medicine as those reflections will hopefully give you stamina and endurance.