NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Graduating from medical school is an accomplishment on its own, but what's especially remarkable about Zindzi Thompson is that she'll be doing it at the young age of 21.
"I have always wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember, there's nothing else that I wanted to be," she said.
Thompson's accomplishment often draws curiosity and the big question: how'd she do it? The answer, her parents Samuel Thompson and Machelle Thompson, said is simple.
"We always get, 'What is the secret? What did you do?' We stayed out of her way. Yes, we did," they said.
When she was 13 years old, Thompson's appetite for knowledge led her to enroll at Mary Baldwin University in Virginia. A move that meant being a driving distance of five hours away from home in South Carolina.
"A big part of the process has been letting her go and achieve her goal. And that's been the hardest part. The academics for her and knowing that she was going to do it was easy, but not having your daughter through those years was the hard part," said Samuel Thompson.
As a toddler, Thompson discovered her life's calling.
"She's wanted to be a doctor since she was 3 years old and we saw that she was a little bit different starting at three. So since she was three, she's worked towards this goal," Machelle Thompson said.
Psychiatry is a career that came instinctually for Zindzi. It could be because medicine is deeply rooted in her family's lineage.
Thompson is continuing her family’s rich legacy of becoming doctors. At least a dozen family members have graduated from Meharry Medical College
"It's definitely a mountain. I'm so, so excited. Tomorrow, I'll be called a doctor — Dr. Thompson."
A milestone that her family doesn't take for granted.
"She'll make history. And I think about my ancestors and everything that they went through, and then I look at my daughter, and it's amazing. It truly is," said Machelle Thompson.
Zindzi said there are always moments of uncertainty, like when taking organic chemistry or biochem, but her advice is to keep striving.
"Just don't give up. Just push through. If you have to re-take a course, re-take it and do better — you can definitely do it, it's not impossible," she said.
Next month Zindzi will be continuing her incredible educational journey. She'll start her psychiatry residency at Washington University Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.