#WeSeeYou: Widow & Single Mother Triumphs On Journey As 40-Year-Old Med Student
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Joyce Haynes Busch went from South Central Los Angeles to being one of the top candidates in her medical school soon to graduate with a degree in medicine. The widow and single mother of two boys decided after 12 years in the real estate industry to pursue her original dream and heart’s desire of becoming a medical doctor.
At age 46, Busch will graduate in Miami, Florida, a phenomenal accomplishment when the average age of a medical student is 24. After a family vacation to relax and take it all in, she’ll begin her residency in Family Medicine at the University of Arkansas Southwest in Texarkana, Texas.
Busch’s husband died from prostate cancer in 2009 only a year and a half into their marriage, leaving her to raise his two young sons from a previous marriage. The boys’ birth mom had lost her battle with cancer only a few years earlier.
Losing her husband was a devastating blow to Busch, especially coming so soon after their wedding. This type of change in life would knock many off track, never to find their way again. However, it only made Busch realize that life is short and tomorrow may never come so it was time to buckle down, get busy and stay focused.
“After my husband died I knew I had to stay strong for the boys who were 17 and 7 at the time. And I knew I had to finish what I started, completing my Doctor of Medicine degree,” Busch said. “I knew I had to continue living. I was now the sole provider for our family and I wanted to be a good strong force in the boys’ life.”
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Busch began taking prerequisite classes prior to her husband’s passing at her local community college in Houston where the family was living at the time. During this time she had to manage caring for her terminally ill husband, caring for her two step sons (whom she later adopted, but not without much opposition from several extended family members), volunteering and completing the required courses to apply for medical school.
“I knew that being a physician was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, even with this huge loss, there was no way I could give up on this dream. I had to push even harder to obtain it,” said Busch.
As opposition increased, she became more determined to make it a reality. She recalled the discussion she had with her mother. “Mommy, do you remember when I first told you I wanted to go to medical school and become a doctor?” They both thought about it and remembered it had been at least 12 years ago. Busch realized her quest could no longer be a “dream deferred.”
She eventually started applying to medical schools. The first application season she only applied within the state of Texas and did not receive a single interview for admission. Then the second year of application season, she was accepted into the Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica (RUSM), where she struggled to raise her youngest son (the eldest son by now was in college. He graduated from University of Texas at San Antonio May 2014) and keep up with her studies. Busch recalls, “The coursework was so intense and trying to care for my son, it was grueling. I felt he needed more attention, because I was studying 10 to 12 hours a day.”