Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Nation
Lakita and her younger sister Larenda were raised by their loving grandmother, Merrilee Maulson, on the Lac du Flambeau reservation in northern Wisconsin. While she never had the opportunity to pursue a college degree herself, Merrilee always encouraged her granddaughters to excel in school and beyond.
ELEMENTARY / MIDDLE SCHOOL:
Lakita was always known for being a “teacher’s pet” – she was the first one to raise her hand in class and the last one to typically finish talking. Her passion for learning was sparked as soon as she learned to read, and from then on she always had her nose in a book.
Ever since 4th grade, Lakita worked hard at being the best basketball player she could be. Lakita was captain of her varsity team and broke two 3-point records. Her goal at the time was to play college basketball. However, because she had a scholarship from participating in the Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE), Lakita decided the best option for her financially was to attend the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Being the first in her family to go to such a large institution, Lakita had no idea what to expect from college. All she knew going into it was that she wanted to be a doctor. She knew it was possible because there was a Native female physician within her own community. However, Lakita found the classes to be much harder than she anticipated and was told multiple times that with her grades, she would likely not get into medical school. Life became even more challenging when her grandmother unexpectedly passed away her sophomore year. At this point, Lakita wanted to give up on everything and just go home because it felt like her world was falling apart.
Despite these challenges, Lakita picked herself back up and pushed forward in pursuit of a career in medicine. It was what her grandmother would want and what she wanted for herself and her community. She participated in every medically-related opportunity possible, and found a way to balance her academics with extracurricular activities while also working to support herself. In May of 2015, Lakita was the first in her family to graduate with a Bachelors of Science degree (in Kinesiology), and 26 of her family members were in attendance to proudly see her walk across the stage.
Lakita joined Dr. Carla M. Pugh’s Simulation and Engineering for Surgical Education Lab. During her time, she gained valuable skills relating to research as she developed and implemented her own project relating to patient perceptions of the clinical breast examination.
Lakita also took this time to apply to medical schools. Despite being told (and believing) that she would likely not get into medical school, Lakita was fortunate to receive multiple interviews and was accepted into multiple schools.
Lakita is a medical student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She is a part of the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine, and hopes to work as a family medicine physician within a Tribal community.