Name: Jonathan Kofi Vordzorgbe
Social media handle (s): IG: jxkofi
Undergraduate: Morehouse College, Class of 2015.
Graduate: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Class of 2018 (MS in Biomedical Sciences – Neuroscience).
Medical School: Emory University School of Medicine, Class of 2022.
Tell us about yourself?
I was born in Dzodze, a small town in the Volta Region of Ghana, but mostly grew up in Accra until high school. I spent my early years with my parents and three of my cousins in a tightly knit household that was dominated by academics, music, and family values. Thus, I was exposed to music at an early age through my father and was constantly encouraged to take advantage of the academic opportunities that came my way. At age 8, I officially started my first piano lesson under my father, and eventually enrolled into a conservatory of arts established in Accra by Dr Ruth and Marquita Stokes. Under Dr. Stokes’ mentorship, I had the opportunity to perform at various incredible events in Ghana and the US; most significantly in 2007, where I opened for Stevie Wonder at the ‘Ghana at 50’ Commemorative Concert in Accra. This experience opened up further opportunities for me, and with the help of Rev Amos Brown and his family, I moved to San Francisco to attend high school and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I completed Stuart Hall High School in 2011 and enrolled into Morehouse College, where I majored in Music/Pre-medicine. Throughout college, I balanced my life as a music major and pre-medicine student by tutoring in both the Music and Biology departments, working in research labs, and playing in the school orchestra. I also spent two summers working in a hospital back home in Accra by providing direct patient care.
Throughout graduate school and now in medical school, I have always kept music as a major facet of my life, and have thus dedicated significant time and effort to fully appreciate the relationship between music and health. I am currently the president of a newly formed music club at Emory University, MUsically-ZEalous-Meds (MUZEmeds), which holds performances, lectures, and other music-related activities in the Emory medical community.
Why did you choose medicine?
I initially chose medicine out of sheer interest. While my early years were dominated by music, I was equally as passionate and curious about how the world around me worked and was thus drawn to science at a young age. Although music is an integral aspect of my life, I have always considered it as more of a personal means of expression and not necessarily a career path. Meanwhile, my passion for science evolved into various possible career choices until midway through high school, where I began to appreciate the importance of social justice, service, and personal growth as essential aspects of one’s work in the community. These, coupled with my experiences growing up in underserved communities in Ghana led me towards medicine as a means to provide care and to advocate for members of my community who are most strongly impacted by various socioeconomic issues.
How did you decide your specialty or what specialty are you leaning towards?
I have always been fascinated by the brain for as long as I have been interested in medicine, and have spent much of my undergraduate and graduate years trying to appreciate its various functions in cognition, physiology, and disease. I hope to practice as a Neurologist, partly due to my interest in Neuroscience, and also more importantly because of the increased need for neurological care and research in rapidly globalizing communities back home in Ghana. I am specifically interested in Neuro-inflammation within the context of age-related brain diseases, and hope to improve therapies for detecting and targeting chronic brain inflammation in the elderly.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to pursue a career in medicine?
Passing along two great pieces of advice I have received along my journey: Medicine is ultimately about providing care and comfort to others in a manner that recognizes and respects their dignity; and always remember during the (numerous) difficult days that there is someone who is counting on you becoming the person you were called to be.
What or who inspires or motivates you?
My parents have been the most inspirational in my life through their love, sacrifice, and encouragement. Additionally, the works of Dr. Ruth Stokes and Rev Amos Brown motivate me to uplift others along my journey as I would not be where I am now without the selfless sacrifices that they have made for me.