Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Helena Rodriguez
PORTALES—Loveleen James grew up in the jungles of Micronesia, islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Indonesia. And Loveleen figured she would have remained on this exotic island known as "The Garden of Micronesia," working in pigpens and helping her parents.
But this 22–year–old Pacific Islander from Pohnpei was then referred to a Talent Search program in high school, a program that she says changed her life and convinced her she could not only go on to college but that she
could also become a doctor, the likes of which are much needed in Micronesia. An Internet search then led Loveleen to Eastern New Mexico University in 2001. She will complete her bachelor's degree at ENMU this month and then the 22–year-old Pacific Islander will head to medical school.
Loveleen is so eager to get a jump-start on medical school at Ross University School of Medicine in the island of Dominica located in the Caribbean islands, that she has decided to forego walking across the stage at ENMU in May to formally accept her bachelor's degree in biology. She has arranged to take her final exams at the end of April so she can begin medical school on May 10, hoping to be a full-fledged doctor by 2010.
"I will not go through commencement at ENMU, but it doesn't bother me," said Loveleen, who is the student director for the International Students organization. "I'm used to going through life my own way. I have another set of plans set up for me and when an opportunity like this presents itself, I take it."
It has taken Loveleen only three years to complete her pre-medicine degree in biology at ENMU and she hopes to finish medical school a year early. She attempted to beat her father and finish high school in three years like her father did. High school ended up being a four–year stint, but Loveleen was not upset because it was through the Talent Search program that she got an opportunity to go to San Diego for a summer where she learned to speak English more fluently. She said the Talent Search program was designed for students who would be first generation college students and came from low-income families.
"The Talent Search program made me realize that there was more to education than just elementary and they motivated me in different ways," Loveleen explained. "The director of the program used embarrassment as a motivation tool for me."
Duringher senior year of high school, Loveleen decided to come to school inthe United States and began praying about where to go to college. Shewas receiving applications from many colleges in the mail and decidedthat she would go to the school that had the easiest enrollmentprocess. She specifically wanted to go to a small college.
"ENMU just asked for my transcripts and I was accepted," Loveleen said. "I then got in contact with Diana Cordova (director of Multicultural Affairs) at Eastern and she sent me scholarship applications and said they were ready for me to come to school."
At ENMU, Loveleen has been active with the Caduceus Health Society, which is a pre–med club, as well as with the International Student Club and the Baptist Student Union.
Loveleensaid she is not sure what kind of doctor she wants to be. She said shewould most likely become a general practitioner with specialties incardiology or dermatology. One thing she is sure about, though, is thatshe will return to the jungles of Micronesia to practice medicine. "Iwill go back home. They need a lot more doctors in Micronesia. That'swhy they are helping students get their education," she said.