- Cynthia’s dream has always been to become a doctor since 31 years ago.
- But during her senior year, she was forced to put on hold that dream because she got pregnant.
- Years later, when she had finally saved enough, she continued to finish her dream together with her daughter and they both graduated as doctors.
Thirty one years ago, Cynthia Kudji Sylvester resolved she would become a doctor no matter what.
Back in 1989, she visited Ghana — the West African country she and her family had first lived before until they moved elsewhere when she was only 2. During her visit, a female stranger approached her with urgent need for help, she was only 19-year-old that time.
“She was talking about her daughter who was sick and had a fever,” Cynthia told PEOPLE. “She picked us just because we were American. There was such a drastic divide between us, and that really hit home. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to be a physician.”
What she never expected was how long her journey to become one would take — and how a very special would surprisingly join her in achieving that dream.
After a year from that Ghana trip, she was then attending her medical course at Tulane University when she got pregnant with her daughter Jasmine. Because of that, she had put her dreams on hold. Finishing her senior year was not the urgent priority then.
“Medical school at that time was out of the question,” Cynthia said.
What happened instead was, she became a nursing assistant and eventually a nurse practitioner for over 10 years that followed.
Cynthia raised Jasmine as a single parent. Her family helped her with that until finally, she was able to save enough to continue pursuing her ultimate dream in 2013.
“I knew it was time,” Cynthia said. “Even though it was a long uphill journey, it shaped me. Every disappointment, every accomplishment made me want to push further and create a better life for my daughter.”
Jasmine, a junior at Louisiana State University that year, decided to pursue the same field looking up at her mom as her inspiration.
“My mom always inspired me to be everything that I wanted to be,” says Jasmine, now 26-year-old. “I watched her overcome things first hand. We’ve come a long way.”
Cynthia — who is now 49 and got married last June to Mark Sylvester, 50, a military IT assistant — graduated from the University of Medicine and Health Sciences, while Jasmine graduated from Louisiana State University School of Medicine. On July 1, both of them started their residences together through the LSU Health System — Jasmine pursuing general surgery, and Cynthia on family medicine.
“Jasmine has always been my rock,” Cynthia said. “We’re in this together.”
“My mom always inspired me to be everything that I wanted to be. I watched her overcome things firsthand. We’ve come a long way,” Jasmine added.