Paying it Forward

Alumna in Science Profile: Leonida Radford ’17

Leonida Radford '17Leonida Radford describes the sense of wonder she experienced in her seventh grade science class one day. Her teacher explained how particles in the sky reflect and absorb light, and depending on the angle of the sun, that’s why we see different colors in the sky. Discovering this small scientific process had a profound effect on Radford. “Why is the sky blue?” cascaded into a series of other questions she wanted answered. This interest and curiosity led to a lifelong love of science.

When it came time to apply to college, Radford was determined. She wanted to find a school that prepared her to become a doctor. “I wanted strong mentors who could invest in me,” she says. Scripps offered this preparation and support. As a first-generation college student, Radford attended a program geared toward first-generation science students during her first semester where she met Sidney J. Weinberg, Jr. Chair in Natural Sciences and Professor of Chemistry Mary Hatcher-Skeers.

The program provided the boost of confidence she needed and reinforced her interest in medicine. Radford quickly committed to the pre-medical track and soon declared herself a biochemistry major, where she was able to blend her interests in the integrated studies of chemistry and biotechnology.

Radford soon discovered that her path to medicine was going to be challenging. She spent hours each day studying chemistry material and questioned whether she could become a doctor. It was during these challenging times that Radford remembered the advice from Professor Hatcher-Skeers.

“Mary reminded me—I am capable, and I deserve to be at Scripps,” she says. Those words instilled confidence, and they resonate to her today. “Being surrounded by people with similar goals motivated me to pursue medicine.”

Also surrounding Radford was a broad support system at Scripps, that included teachers, mentors, and friends. “My peers and advisers within Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment (SCORE) and the first-generation community inspired me to be better—I wouldn’t be where I am without them,” she says. “Science is a competitive place for women. It’s becoming more important that we build each other up.”

Radford plans to follow her passions for science and biochemistry by pursuing medical school. She is studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and taking additional preparatory classes like genetics, anatomy, physiology, and statistics. Radford is also working as a medical scribe for the Primary Care Clinic at University of California, San Francisco, Laurel Village. When she isn’t working or studying, Radford volunteers at her former high school as a college adviser. “I look for ways to give back to the community,” she says.

As Radford considers her future and professional goals, she uses her network of connections for support and mentoring, and advises current students to do the same. “I am tapping into the Scripps network and reconnecting with recent graduates,” she says. While Radford prepares for the next phase of her medical professional journey, she’s enjoying giving back to those communities that supported her along the way.