LaShyra “Lash” Nolen made history by becoming the first black woman to be elected as class president of Harvard Medical School, Teen Vogue reports.
What We Know:
- The 24-year-old was elected class president of her first-year medical class in August. She is the first black woman to do so at Harvard.
- For Lash, it’s a big change from Los Angeles, where she was born. She grew up in Compton, Calif., driving down Sepulveda Boulevard listening to Banda music and Dr. Dre, and then moving inland to Rancho Cucamonga. In college at Loyola Marymount University, she also served as class president—the first black woman to do so in decades.
- The Compton native said she was always inspired by the black women around her, particularly her grandmother and mother. Her mother had Lash at just 18-years-old and raised her as a single mom while pursuing her master’s degree and working multiple jobs. Lash says she owes most of her drive to her upbringing.
- Lash tells Teen Vogue, “Mom pursued life with grit and a desire to win. She would tell me: ‘I’ll see you at the top.’” This was evident early on. In just third grade, Lash won first place in a school science fair for a project that studied the patterns of fish.
- Today, Lash is an activist, HMS class president, and Fulbright scholar. Lash doesn’t take her position as class president lightly and knows what her achievement means for others.
- Lash’s win comes two years after Kristine E. Guillaume was elected as the first Black woman to head Harvard’s student newspaper.
- When asked how she deals with excelling to new heights in the world of medicine, a predominately non-black and male dominated field, Lash described using the power of her ancestors and those who came before her.
“Our society has a way of implicitly reminding young black girls what they cannot achieve and what they cannot be, while explicitly giving the green light to white men. For those same reasons I almost didn’t apply to HMS. It wasn’t until my mentors told me that I was capable of being a student at a place like this.”
- Lash is passionate about seeing black women in leadership roles and hopes to see a future where black women will be compensated and celebrated on par with their medical colleagues. With black women like Lash leading the way, the future of medicine is in good hands.
After medical school, she said she plans on getting a degree in public policy and possibly exploring politics on the local level.