The alumni spotlight for Women in Science Week features Jordan Troka (’11). After graduating from Valor, Jordan continued her education at the University of Oklahoma where she majored in biology, then graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in 2017 as a Physician Assistant. Now, she looks back on the people and experiences that encouraged her to pursue a career in medicine.
When did you become interested in medicine and what motivated you to pursue it?
I knew I was interested in the medical field, and my senior year of high school is when I decided I wanted to become a physician assistant. My cousin was diagnosed with cancer at a young age and watching her experience in the world of medicine inspired me to work in that field someday. I have a passion for serving others, so the medical field gave me an outlet to pursue that passion. I also really enjoy science and math, and I knew that would be a majority of my studies while pursuing a career in the medical field.
Did you have any teachers or mentors in your life who encouraged you in it?
A lot of my teachers at Valor were very encouraging in my pursuit of working in the medical field, most notably Dr. Fisher. He was my anatomy and physiology teacher in high school, and he was a big motivation for me to pursue a career in medicine. He also allowed the opportunity for me to serve on a medical mission trip in Haiti with Valor when I was in college. This experience further solidified my desire to become a physician assistant. I also had a couple professors in college who were encouraging along the journey toward becoming a physician assistant. Overall, my parents and other family members were always very supportive and encouraging as I pursued my goals.
Have you ever felt discouraged from studying science because of being a woman?
No, I have never felt discouraged from studying science because I am a woman. I am a pretty motivated person, so once I decided that I wanted to study medicine nothing was really going to get in the way. Additionally, my science professors I worked closest with in college were women. Most of my PA school faculty and a majority of my PA classmates were also women. For these reasons, I was often in an environment surrounded by women in science.
What’s one piece of advice you would give girls in high school who are interested in going on to study some sort of science?
Do it! If you have a passion for a career in science don’t let anything stop you from pursuing that. There are a lot of women currently working in science, so be encouraged by the path they have already paved.