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Volume 24, Number 10 — November 2017

Youth Spotlight: Jocelyn Wilson

Jocelyn Wilson's poem,
Jocelyn Wilson's poem, "The First Cut," was published in The Legible Script, a literary journal published by the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine.

Medical Student Wins National Poetry Award

January 31, 2012

Jocelyn Wilson plans to practice family medicine. She also wants to be a published writer, penning poetry and fiction, children's books, and stories about real people.

A self-described "Air Force brat" whose family currently lives in Oak Ridge, Tenn., Jocelyn is a third-year student at East Tennessee State University's James H. Quillen College of Medicine. She expects to graduate in May 2013.

Jocelyn says, "I chose medicine because I had an arrhythmia as a child. Upon receiving care from a pediatric cardiologist, I thought that I wanted to work with people in that way. As I grew older, time and circumstance confirmed for me that I had found my calling in clinical practice. I love the study of how the human body works and the connection between physical health and overall wellness."

She also has a way with language — enough so that a national magazine gave her an award of excellence for poetry.

Jocelyn's poem, "The First Cut," was honored in the 12th edition of The Legible Script, a literary journal published by the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, featuring original works by medical students to highlight unique experiences they encounter during their training.

Her poem was inspired by gross anatomy class, a requisite and memorable part of education for every medical student. After her first experience of practicing medical training on a human cadaver, she wrote the poem as a tribute to the people who choose to donate their bodies to medical science, while also trying to capture the sanctity of the moment.

"Gross anatomy continues to be an indelible and unifying aspect of undergraduate medical education," said Jocelyn. "I remember the first day my lab partners and I stood before our cadaver. We were eager to begin and I remember [a classmate] saying something like, "Who wants to start?' As I put scalpel to skin, I whispered up a prayer. As the class came to a close, we were encouraged to take part in a memorial service, and I wanted to write something that captured the intensity of the moment, the class, and medical school in general."

The result was "The First Cut." Jocelyn's poem includes the following passage:

I find it odd that I would question the process
by which a person could make decisions
in life
That bring forth greater illumination
in death
This is not foreign to me.
As I ever return my thoughts to the first cut
I am thankful for the sacrifice
I am thankful for the knowledge


Jocelyn says, "I want to be a writer because I feel that it is my gift. I enjoy expressing myself with the written word and I love good stories. I've read so many books that I've valued. I would love to take my gift and create the kind of story I'd like to read. My plans and goals as a writer are to write things that honor God and encourage people," citing, as an example, Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., best-selling author of Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal and My Grandfather's Blessings.

Before coming to ETSU, Jocelyn attended Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., where she wrote the script and co-directed a play entitled The Acts of the Apostles, which featured a performance of sacred dance.

She is currently co-authoring — with her mother and sister — a book titled Grafted. "It is designed to be a science fiction story while also being about the gifts attributed to the body of Christ as described in Ephesians 4:11," she explains.

"It is my hope that I've been inspired by my Christian faith. My role models for my writing include my mother — who has been writing poetry all of her life — as well as C.S. Lewis, W.E.B. Dubois, T.H. White, J.R.R. Tolkien, Rachel Carson, Ayn Rand, and George MacDonald, to name a few."

"Being a woman," Jocelyn says, "I feel like romance and beauty are integral to art. I'm concerned that my writing is truthful and meaningful, but beauty is also essential to what I want to produce.

"Being a black woman provides me a special vantage point. The history of slavery and racism in this country created a fertile ground for much bitterness but also much redemption. I feel no shame in being black because there is so much beauty, intelligence, and excellence in the black community. I feel that in the 21st century there is significant space to define and redefine what black and black American should and can connote."