Africa is regarded as a place of destitute beauty. It is known as the motherland for some but for others it is home. Many have dreams of visiting the motherland but for 21 year-old Ather Cep, she wants to do something much more prominent than that.
Cep was born in Juba, South Sudan. She moved to Dallas, Texas with her mom, dad and two siblings Cep and Ateal when she 2-years-old. Ather also has a younger brother named Joshua who was born in the United States. She attended Mansfield Timberview High School and made the transition to Alcorn State University to play basketball which was the main deciding factor in her choice.
Her middle school basketball coach was her biggest influence in beginning her basketball career mainly because of her height as she currently stands at 6 feet tall. She is a Biology/Pre-Med major and aspires to become a doctor. “She is the ideal student athlete being able to balance basketball while also maintaining a good GPA. She also has a great attitude whenever I come in contact with her which are the attributes of a great physician,” said classmate and former teammate Ariel Walker.
Like most families that move to a new environment, Cep’s parents, Suzan Malual and Makur Cep- Abor, had a difficult time settling down in the U.S. Both of her parents, who come from a family of royalty, worked two jobs until her father had to eventually take some time off after having surgery on his injured shoulder. Her grandfather was a royal King in Africa. He had nine wives which is not usual in most cases. “My grandmother was the 3rd wife and my mom has over 80 siblings,” said Cep.
Her father, on the other hand, was a successful businessman in Africa. He owned many different hotels, buildings, foreign money exchange units and a few other businesses. However, he still chose to work in America because the war and government corruption in Africa became so bad that the family had to flee the country. He exhausted a very large portion of the families’ income so that he could move his family to America and to safety. He soon hopes to open a hospital for his daughter.
Cep always thought about becoming a doctor but she made the final decision after constantly watching episodes of the hit ABC television show Grey’s Anatomy. After making the realization, she began spending a lot of time at local hospitals back home where she would walk around and observe how the doctors interact with the patients. “It’s just something I really have a passion for,” she said about becoming a doctor. Out of a population of roughly 11 million people in her country of South Sudan, only 200 of them are doctors and only a handful are surgeons.
She is currently a member of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS) which offers classes to help students prepare to take the MCAT and also to prepare for Medical School. The pre-professional program offers students an opportunity to visit different professional schools such as Mississippi Medical School.
She has not decided on a specialty yet but some of the options that she is exploring include orthopedic surgery, neurology or general surgery. Because she is so passionate about pursuing a career in medicine, she has not strayed away from her goal or even considered other possible options outside of medicine. “If I go through with this, I’ll be the first person in my family to become a doctor or nurse,” Cep said.
She plans to complete her residency here in the United States and also get a few years of experience working in a hospital before returning to Juba to practice medicine. “My goal is to help people through medicine,” said Cep.