Dr. Cynthia Kudji Sylvester was born in the village of Kenyasi in Ghana but came to the United States when she was 2 years old. However, a trip to visit family in Africa as a child was the catalyst for her desire to become a doctor. She and her mother were asked to help with a sick child in the village when no physician was available.
“We put the child in water, trying to get the temperature down, and that’s pretty much all I remember,” she told the UMHS Endeavor. “The last thing I did was ask how the child fared and she was like ‘I don’t think the child did very well’ and I just remember being so frustrated that the mom had to come to a complete stranger to get access to health care.”
The experience resonated deeply with Kudji Sylvester, who believed that the only thing that could have changed that situation was a doctor’s expertise.
Kudji Sylvester intended to follow that path as a young woman. However, when she was a senior at Tulane University, she became pregnant. Goodable tweeted this photo of Kudji Sylvester holding her newborn daughter, Jasmine Kudji.
Cynthia Kudji grew in Ghana, got pregnant at 23, and put her dreams on hold to support her daughter, Jasmine.
To make ends meet, she got a job as a nurse, working long hours to put food on the table.
This week, they both just graduated from medical school. pic.twitter.com/YkvemMZUZZ
— Goodable (@Goodable) May 22, 2020
“I had to put my dream of being a physician on hold because I needed a job,” she told “Today.”
After receiving an undergraduate degree in biology, Kudji Sylvester became a registered nurse and, eventually, a nurse practitioner. When her daughter went off to college, Kudji Sylvester decided to follow suit.
“I was like, you know what, this is the perfect time for me to pursue my dream of being a physician,” Kudji Sylvester told Today.
She enrolled at the University of Medicine and Health Sciences on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Kitts at the age of 43. Dr. Kudji started medical school two years later, immediately after completing her undergraduate studies at Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans.
Although miles apart, mother and daughter motivated and supported one another throughout it all, making daily use of Skype to visit and study together.
Kudji shared photos of herself with her mom on what would have been the day of her pre-commencement ceremony.
As the pair prepared for their respective graduations from medical school, they both received exciting news. They earned that they both matched to residency positions within the LSU Health System just two hours away from one another in their home state, as noted in this tweet by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).
Drs. Cynthia & Jasmine Kudji: An Inspirational Match – Mother and Daughter Set to Start 2020 Residencies at LSU Health. Special thanks to the doctors for agreeing to be interviewed for NRMP's article. Read: https://t.co/oX9KW1mCXl @LSUHealthNO @LSUHS @UMHSstkitts pic.twitter.com/vZuuG1Lhyu
— NRMP® (@TheNRMP) May 7, 2020
“My mother is the most inspiring person in my life, and she is one of the only reasons I was able to make it to where I am today,” Kudji told the NRMP.
“Jasmine has been my rock through this journey,” Kudji Sylvester said.