Former SAC student accepted into Johns Hopkins Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program
August 20, 2021
Training in American Sign Language at SAC gave Michaela Brandt a career as an interpreter. Now, her experience working with the Deaf community has put her on a new path: pursuing medical school and a career as a physician.
Brandt was recently accepted into the Johns Hopkins Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program in Baltimore. Designed for students with bachelor’s degrees who want to enter medical school, the program provides an intensive year of science courses, opportunities in the medical field and guidance to successfully apply to medical school.
Brandt, who is fluent in ASL, will be uniquely qualified to serve deaf patients as a physician. Since graduating from SAC in 2015 with an associate degree in American sign language and interpreting, Brandt has interpreted English into ASL for Deaf people in a variety of settings, from college classes to medical appointments.
Working as an interpreter, she realized the many challenges Deaf people face.
“Becoming an interpreter hyper-focused me on the issues the Deaf community wrestles with in their daily lives that most people don’t know about,” Brandt said. “The role of an interpreter is so unquestionably important and so valued, but I want to do that and more.”
Her first experience with ASL was in high school in San Antonio, where she chose it as a foreign language elective. She took ASL for foreign language credits again when she enrolled in SAC. She had no plans to become an interpreter, but encouragement from her professors changed her mind.
“They said ‘You have a knack for this, this could be your job,’” she said.
She worked as an interpreter while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at Texas A&M University - San Antonio, and continued interpreting after graduating in 2017.
Her training at SAC taught her to become a quick study in a wide range of topics to successfully interpret them for Deaf people. She started out with little confidence in her scientific abilities, but felt herself growing stronger in those subjects as she interpreted college-level science classes and medical appointments. She began to think that medical school was a possibility for her.
She even took a phlebotomy course at St. Philip’s College in January 2020 to make sure she could handle drawing blood from patients. With that training successfully completed, she forged ahead with her plans for medical school.
The post-bac program will not only give her the courses she needs to apply to medical school, but also connects her to research opportunities and the chance to work with faculty from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine on special projects.
While she’s not yet sure what area of medicine she will choose to practice in, she knows she’ll keep serving the Deaf community.
“They are a huge part of my heart and my reason for going into medicine,” she said. “I am very interested in working toward making the world more equitable and accepting of people with disabilities, particularly the Deaf community.”