Nadya Dillon is 20 years old. She is a 2011 graduate of Cornell University in the College of Human Ecology where she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree. She is currently studying to take her MCAT exams to get into medical school. But how does a little girl from Brooklyn become one of the youngest to graduate from an Ivy League school such as Cornell?
“The love and support of family, friends, community, church and advisors is what got me where I am,” smiles Nadya, “I know that if anyone had such great and helpful people in their life like me, any dream meant for them can be achieved with determination.”
Nadya, is a very determined young lady. She is the child of proud Jamaican immigrants, Donovan and Nadine Dillon. Donovan, who works as an auditor for the State of New York, is originally from St. Elizabeth and Nadine, a consultant, is from Kingston. Both are extremely proud of their youngest child. They also have an older child, Brian who is 10 years Nadya’s senior.
Says Nadine, “Nadya always goes for what she wants, all I do is support her.” Donovan beams with pride as he looks at his daughter, the future doctor. It was he would encouraged her to apply to Cornell and at age 16 she was accepted. “It’s my father who made me apply for Cornell, it was the only Ivy League School that I applied for,” smiled Nadya with that wide grin, “When I volunteered at New York Methodist Hospital, I developed a positive outlook for Cornell because of their affiliation with NYM. Since I already knew it was a good school, my only concerns were, if it would be too expensive and if they had a decent social life.”
Nadya has been on her mission to become a doctor since a very early age. She tells the story of spending many summers in Jamaica with her aunt, Dr. RoseMarie Wright-Pascoe, an endocrinologist who teaches and practices at UWI and also the former head of the Jamaica Medical Association.
“I was able to really stay connected with my family in Jamaica, and truly know my culture. Many children born of Jamaican parents in New York and elsewhere often don’t get the opportunity to visit home but I was privileged to do so and my visits really shaped who I am,” said Nadya.
“One such visit was a point of confirmation of my dream career. I developed a vision for myself to get a medical degree and return to Jamaica to help out as a physician. I wanted to share with my people and help alleviate the disparities seen in many countries considered to be developing nations such as Jamaica. I decided I wanted to be an international doctor to practice and contribute in the U.S., Jamaica and other nations where more health professionals, facilities and equipment are needed,” she added.
To this end, Nadya has done two six-month stints interning and volunteering in Santo Domingo where she improved on her Spanish, which she now speaks fluently. This was all part of a special exchange program at Cornell.
Nadya smiles and shares that it was really her love for math and science and good role models that led her in this direction. She has and continues to be very active in her church, St. Augustine Anglican Church in East Flathbush, Brooklyn.
During her earlier years, she participated in many extra-curricular activities at church and at school. She dances, participates in the choir and the youth group. Nadya is also a graduate of the prestigious Midwood High School.