Latina Accepted To 11 Medical Schools Claps Back At Naysayers Who Say She Didn't Earn Her Success

"I worked just as hard as those around me and that I had to break through a prominent glass ceiling to get here."

Chelsea Batista was truly "astounded" when she was accepted to 11 out of 18 medical schools to which she applied and received a full scholarship from at least two of them, but she has a powerful message for naysayers who are quick to attribute her impressive accomplishments to affirmative action.

The 21-year-old daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, who is in her final year at Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College, tells The Huffington Post, "I was absolutely terrified that I wasn't going to get into even one school. That's why I filled out so many applications. Even with that fear, though, I made sure to aim high. I always said, the worst they can say is no, and it's automatically a no anyway if I never apply. So I did."

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It's a good thing she aimed high, because Batista, who hopes to study pediatric oncology, has been accepted to Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York University, Tufts University School of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine, Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Howard University College of Medicine, SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, and SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine. 

Because of her gender, background, and the fact that she comes from a low-income family, Batista knew the odds were stacked against her, but she's quick to point out her 11 acceptances are the result of incredible dedication to her studies — not affirmative action. "Several naysayers have attributed my successes to affirmative action, as opposed to discipline and hard work," Batista explains.

"At some points, I had to remind myself that I earned these accomplishments. That I worked just as hard as those around me and that I had to break through a prominent glass ceiling to get here. I had to remind myself that I was not chosen because I am a Hispanic woman who fulfills the requirements. I was chosen because as a Hispanic woman, I had to struggle through more obstacles and resistance than the typical medical school applicant and I still managed to excel."

The concept of affirmative action, which was first introduced by President John F. Kennedy, has always been plagued with controversy. Its supporters argue affirmative action is a means to redress discrimination, which then levels the playing field for students of various economic, social, racial, and religious backgrounds who often systematically don't have the advantages of their wealthy white counterparts. 

On the other hand, affirmative action's harshest critics claim it hasn't helped end discrimination and that the policy is more likely to benefit wealthy students of color, as opposed to low-income students across the board. (ThinkProgress points out that white families often have more access to important resources such as better local schools than families of color with similar incomes do, indicating that focusing solely on income may not be the best solution.)

Regardless: assuming that someone was only admitted to a school because of affirmative action or any other program is rude and presumptive. Either way, they earned their spot.

Batista and a myriad of other accomplished students have felt compelled to defend their acceptances to colleges, universities, and other elite institutions. Take, for example, Guillermo Pomarillo, who was forced to defend his acceptance to Stanford last year after his dentist assumed that he had an easier time gaining admission to the Ivy League university than his daughter because of his race and socioeconomic background.

"To say that I was admitted into a school simply because of my background is ridiculous. OF COURSE YOUR DAUGHTER WAS GOING TO SCORE HIGHER THAN ME. You're a dentist that can afford to send her to a school that will help her achieve a score like that," Pomarillo wrote at the time.

For some additional perspective, consider the following: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Latinos comprised just 17 percent of American college students in 2014. Similarly, for Batista's case, the Association of American Medical Colleges reports less than 7 percent of medical school applicants in the United States for the 2016-2017 school year were Latinas. 

Though Batista hasn't decided exactly where she'll be headed next fall, we don't doubt she earned every single one of those awesome acceptances.

Cover image via Shutterstock.

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