UW Graduate Tiffany Jones Plans for Medical
Tiffany Jones, a Madison Memorial High
School graduate, is graduating from
UW-Madison with a 3.65 GPA.
course, Jones found herself traveling once again, to Uganda to experience their healthcare system.
“That trip was amazing,” Jones said. “First of all, it was a culture shock, but it was something that I loved every minute of it. You would
think that the hygiene standards wouldn’t be as good as it is here. But they were just great people. We did use bathrooms where there
was literally a hole in the ground sometimes. But sometimes they had regular toilets. It just depended on what side of the country you
were on and which towns you were in. The people were really friendly. The fruit was so fresh. The hospitals were a little bit subpar from
what we experience here, but I could tell that they were really trying to change the health care system to make it more comprehensive
and able to serve the needs of the people. It was kind of difficult because at a clinic, there were three physicians for 200 people. They
were really understaffed. They were trying to recruit physicians to come. The staff to patient ratio was really low, but they were still trying
to make it work. Other than that, Uganda was just a beautiful country. I learned a lot. We got to cook meals with the mothers, homemade
meals. We had to kill the goats and chickens to make the soup. I loved every minute of it though because I got to see everything. Uganda
reminded me of the rural South. I loved it.”
When Jones graduated in December, she proudly walked across the stage with a 3.65 GPA. Her success came about through hard work,
staying focused and the assistance she got through the UW PEOPLE Program.
“I needed academic support and what the PEOPLE Program did was give resources to the CLC, Chemistry Learning Center,” Jones said.
“I was in that for my first year of general chemistry. If I hadn’t been in the CLC, I would not have done as well. Basically, through your
application, they ask what type of student you are. You can check PEOPLE student. They give priority to PEOPLE students. I guarantee
you that if I hadn’t been in the CLC, I wouldn’t have gotten a good grade. Basically they provided worksheet handouts and extra
supplemental materials to the class work. That was so helpful. And then I was in the PLC, the Physics Learning Center. And if you are a
PEOPLE student, you get preference for that too. These resources that PEOPLE provides or refers us to actually work. You can see that
there is collaboration between these resources and the PEOPLE Program. With all of these learning centers including those in biology
and business, you can tell that PEOPLE is trying to refer its students so that we can excel, especially in the sciences.”
Jones found that asking for help and asking questions was the way to academically succeed, even if she was the only one asking
“I always ask questions, even if it is something super-simplistic,” Jones said. “‘Can you go over that one more time professor? Can you
reiterate that a little bit more for me?’ Always ask questions. I don’t think asking questions is a bad thing at all. You can’t ask too many
questions. My freshman year, I wondered, ‘Am I the only person who has these questions?’ I’m a fifth year senior now and you realize
that people have the same questions as you, but they want to appear as if they know what the professor is talking about. I realized that if
you are the one who asks questions, people start to look up to you. They start to ask, ‘Do you want to start a study group?’ Every year in
class, I ask questions and people say, ‘That’s what I was wondering too.’ Right after class, a couple of students then say, ‘We should
start a study group together.’ If you take initiative, people realize that you are a leader and they start coming to you asking questions. I’ve
realized that all of the students are in the same boat.”
PEOPLE also gave encouragement and support to Jones as she entered a course of study where relatively few students of color have
“There might have been a Latina or a Hmong student in my classes, but I don’t really recall anyone besides myself being African
American in my biology and microbiology classes,” Jones said. “I would have remembered them and tried to foster some kind of
relationship. It bothered me a little bit. It was just kind of difficult because you look around and you’re the only one. I know so many
people who have these types of skills who would like this kind of subject. One of my friends in pharmacy school who is also Black too
the higher level sciences and she felt the same way. She started in pharmacy before I was even in the classes. But you just look
around, you see this is an issue and my colleagues could compete with the other kids who are with me in these classes. I’m not any
better than the next person. Maybe if we spark interest earlier on, it would help.”
What makes Jones’ academic excellence even sweeter is achieving in spite of the sometimes harsh climate she faced during her
college career, a success she wouldn’t have achieved without the support of other students experiencing the same things she was.
“I would have to say that the last PEOPLE retreat I went to in November was one of my best experiences, just seeing the potential of
what could be,” Jones said. “We had a lot of discussion about what we could do to make the PEOPLE Program better and more dynamic
and collaborative. Basically the relationships and the discussions that we had about being of color in our classes and everything were
so moving. I just saw PEOPLE students like I had never seen them before, really working together. The seniors were working with the
freshmen and the freshmen working with the sophomores and juniors. I just saw the potential that we are going to continue to have. I felt
there was still hope for us. At this university, people sometimes down us because they think we are just here because we are people of
color. They think people of color are athletes or got here through some type of scholarship program because of our race. At the retreat,
we dissected that and looked into how that made us feel and what we can do to make ourselves feel better even with all of the other
stuff going on around us. I think it was really inspirational to see that people are still going to do what they have to do even in the midst
of ridicule and oppression. I thought that was really cool, and it gave me the sense of promise and hope that we will still be around for a
while to come.”
What has also rounded out Jones’ college career has been her extracurricular activities. She worked with PEOPLE Prep out at the
Northport-Packers housing communities as well as at the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. And as a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha
Sorority, Jones learned valuable leadership skills.
“It has made me a better person, a better person being able to deal with conflict and finding solutions,” Jones said. “It had us work as a
team and we learned how to delegate and overcome struggles. When I look at things going on at school and other organizations that I am
in, it comes second nature with me to be able to deal with different types of situations. Some people will be like, ‘How are we going to
get through this problem? She’s sick. How are we going to get through this? We don’t have a speaker for this event.’ And I’m just
thinking, ‘We will get through it somehow because we have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.’ AKA has taught me that. We always have back-
Currently, Jones is applying to medical school for next fall. And her experiences in Mississippi and Uganda have left her with the desire
to help fill the gap in healthcare accessibility.
“I think we need a lot of providers in the underserved and underrepresented areas, especially urban and rural,” Jones said. “Personally
I am interested in urban medicine. The Jackson experience really opened my eyes and was my calling to that type of environment. I really
liked it. People were really friendly, but there was always something going on, especially in ER. That’s the kind of medicine that I want to
pursue. I think we need a lot of people of color and women involved. And we need more prevention strategies over treatment so that we
can decrease the amount of treatment and the related costs in the future. If people are better educated about health, I think we would be a
lot better off than we are today.”
Like many other medical students, Jones knows that her commitment to working in underserved communities will be influenced by her
ability to keep her education loans to a minimum.
“The number of people going into family medicine and primary care has gone down,” Jones said. “I think it is mainly because when
people get to medical school realize that isn’t where the money is and you won’t be able to pay the debt that you accumulate in medical
school very soon if you go into family medical care. For me, it is important for me to go to school here as an in-state resident because our
in-state tuition is very low. Then going into family care wouldn’t be as burdensome because I wouldn’t have accumulated as much debt
and I would be able to practice where I want to practice without worrying about that. People need to generate income. It isn’t because of
greed as much as it is the heavy debt load.”
Ten years from now, in addition to working in underserved communities, Jones envisions herself teaching as well.
“I would tutor at the Physics Learning Center and that exposed me to teaching,” Jones said. “I didn’t think that I would like that, but I
absolutely love it. So I think academic medicine is definitely in the plans. Also I would like to give back what has been given to me. That
has always been my mentality. I love teaching. I love to see people succeed at whatever they are doing. And I would like to be an
advocate for health care and health care for all, not just for people who have money, not just for people in the upper class, but for
everyone. Health care is a human right.”
Jones’ education at UW-Madison hasn’t been just about academics. It has been the Wisconsin Experience that has prepared her to
engage the world around her.
By Jonathan Gramling
When Tiffany Jones, a UW PEOPLE Program scholar, entered UW-Madison after
graduating from Madison Memorial High School, she had thoughts of pursuing a career
in writing or fashion design. But after the Wisconsin Experience which academically
challenged her as well as exposed her to the broader world community, she turned her
sights to science and medicine with purpose and resolve.
While Jones had an interest in the sciences as a high school student, it wasn’t until she
took chemistry and biology at UW-Madison that she realized she had an affinity for it.
And then when she took genetics, she was sold and changed her major.
“When I took my genetics course, things really made sense,” Jones said. “‘Oh so that’s
why someone has blue eyes. That’s why someone had brown eyes. That’s why someone
had dark skin and someone else had light skin.’ Just being able to see how small
changes in our chemical make-up cause these changes in our physical appearance I
thought was really cool. I wanted to study it further. There are small pieces of DNA that
separate us, very small pieces. I thought that was so interesting and amazing to me. It
is really profound.”
One thing led to another, driven by Jones’ intellectual curiosity, and Jones found herself
interning in the physics department and then developed an interest in medicine through
an internship at a hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. And after a human medical genetics