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UW-Madison medical school graduate lives out American Dream

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 6:00 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - One hundred and seventy-four students graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) Friday.

This is the second class to graduate during the COVID-19 pandemic and start their careers. Among them, one graduate did not think she’d make it this far.

Becoming a doctor is a dream come true for Vivian Gama. It is an achievement that didn’t even cross her mind as a little girl.

“It’s not very common for people where I’m from to come to the states let alone be able to go to medical school,” Gama said.

Gama was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She only spoke Portuguese when her family immigrated to the United States in 2000. Gama was 5 years old. Other than her immediate family, Gama’s relatives still live in Brazil.

“So, they put us in school at the end of Kindergarten, with two months left just to get us assimilated a little bit,” Gama said. “I remember they sat me next to a little boy and had me copy what he wrote and that’s how I learned to write in English,” Gama said.

Gama was fluent in English within four months. After living in Ohio and Florida, where she also picked up Spanish, Gama’s family of five settled in Cedarburg, Wisconsin in 2008. Upon her high school graduation, Gama went to UW-Madison, which is where her connection with medicine blossomed.

“It was really trial and error figuring out what I liked,” Gama said. “But when I reflect back, the Brazilian culture is very close with relationships, and I think the patient-physician relationship is no different.”

She finds that bond is stronger in internal medicine. That is the field she’ll start her career in this summer, in the midst of a pandemic.

“I think I’m more excited than ever to take responsibility for patients now and find a defined role within a team,” Gama said.

Now, after graduation, Gama takes her final step into making her dream, a reality.

“I’m incredibly grateful for it and very humbled by the opportunity and I don’t take it lightly and I owe everything to my parents for that,” Gama said.

Gama’s medical career begins in Boston. In June, she’ll start her residency at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital.

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