Iqaluit teen lands 1 of 10 spots in the fast-track to medical school at Queen's University
'I was in my room when my cellphone rang and I was freaking out,' says Anchaleena Mandal
Anchaleena Mandal is graduating from Iqaluit's Inukshuk High School this month with plans to complete a university program that will fast-track her schooling to become a doctor.
"The northern way of life is what makes the North special and it should also be reflected in the healthcare, and I'll try to the best of my ability," she said.
She's been accepted to a Queen's University program, which only takes 10 students from the hundreds that apply across Canada each year.
In it, she'll complete two years of undergraduate education, then move into medical school—without taking the MCAT admission testing.
Shout-out at Nunavut Legislature
Mandal and her family were in the Nunavut legislature last week, where Education Minister Paul Quassa congratulated her on the achievement.
She found out she'd been accepted in mid-April, but only mentioned it to a few people, including one of her teachers, who helped arrange the shout-out in the legislature.
"[Queen's] called and I was in my room when my cellphone rang and I was freaking out."
Mandal, who turns 18 next week, started the "rigorous" application process back in November, even flying down to Kingston for an interview.
"It reminded me of Iqaluit a little bit because there's the St. Lawrence River and it reminded me of the bay," she said.
Mandal has lived in Iqaluit for the last nine years and plans to come back to the city after graduation to practice medicine.
'My dream to help might be working'
"When I get these calls they're anonymous and confidential, but at the end when people thank me I just really feel that my dream to help might be working."
She started volunteering after Nunavut declared a suicide crisis and she convinced her father to volunteer as well.
She knows classmates and community members who have died by suicide and it made her think about the shortage of physician care in the territory.
One repeated refrain she heard during the phone calls, was that there was an Inuit style of justice and it was different from southern practices.
"When we're in the hospital there's an Inuit aspect to it too, and I am not Inuit but I respect the culture very much and I am always curious to learn more."
She says she learned about Inuit traditional medicine in school, but is also interested in other aspects of Inuit culture, especially the music.
She sings with the Inuksuk Drum Dancers and teaches fiddle at the Iqaluit summer music camp.
Mandal didn't always have a piano teacher so she taught herself the instrument via YouTube videos and has now passed her Grade 8 piano and theory exams.
Before she moves south, she hopes to teach at the music camp again and take a break to visit her uncle in Switzerland.