Medical officials are praising Meghan Wilson for her graduation from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, with added praise to the medical school for taking the risk of accepting her into the medical scientist training program.
The 33-year-old Tampa Bay native represents a rare case of a person with quadriplegia -- full paralysis from her shoulders down -- being accepted not only into medical school but the more selective and onerous MST program, which takes eight to nine years or even longer to complete. In her case, it took nine years.
What follows are some of the reactions to her accomplishments:
"It certainly is an impressive story. It speaks incredible volumes to her ability and perseverance and speaks well of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine to make the accommodations necessary for her to pursue her studies. Getting either one of those degrees is challenging. To get both is an incredible feat.
"It's an incredible achievement. When you are thinking you are having a bad day, think of this young lady and think that in the face of incredibly challenging circumstances she has succeeded. It should bring hope to many in the future."
Allegheny County Medical Society
"It's a tribute to Meghan's will, strength and commitment, and also to the willingness of the institution and faculty to work with her to secure appropriate accommodations and resources to make it possible."
senior director of student affairs and programs
Association of American Medical Colleges
"Hats off to her. God bless her for everything she's been able to achieve. And hats off to the teachers years ago who said, 'Why not?' "
Director of media relations
Pennsylvania Medical Society
"She's got broad interests. I don't know anyone who doesn't like her, and I never saw anyone cross her. If it did happen, she wouldn't be quiet about it. Meghan can be opinionated when she needs to be."
Associate professor of family medicine and minority affairs
Pitt medical school
"There's no question, there have been extra things on Meghan's plate just to do the program, and they essentially were unknowns. That is why a lot of schools are unwilling to take that leap. But everyone here will say it's been a very good experience with a good outcome. I think it's a huge success, and I'm looking forward to the next phase of her career."
Ms. Wilson's career adviser
Medical school's medical scientist training program
"[This] is some of the best news I've heard in a long time. I am very proud of what she has accomplished. ... Her intelligence, focus, cleverness, and drive were unmatched. I encouraged her because I believed she was a truly superior applicant on her own merit.
"Her acceptance into medical school was not a foregone conclusion.... Thus I was extremely happy and grateful that the University of Pittsburgh recognized her ability and accepted her. Meghan's success in completing her MD/PhD is an acknowledgement of her intelligence, drive and persistence. I cannot think of another former student whose accomplishments have brought me more satisfaction and pleasure."
James A. Deyrup
University of Florida chemistry professor emeritus,
who taught her honors organic chemistry class and helped convince her to pursue a medical degree