Tonia Gooden, M.D. gained valuable experience and developed lifelong skills while serving on the Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC), laying a strong foundation for her future success.
Gooden graduated summa cum laude from Algonac High School in 2009. Throughout that time, she participated in the Community Foundation’s YAC and served as YAC president during her senior year.
“I really enjoy giving back to the community and wanted to be more involved with philanthropy, so I thought this was a good way to kind of go beyond Algonac into something more broad for the community,” Gooden said.
After graduating, she attended the University of Michigan where she received a bachelor’s degree in German in 2013. She studied abroad in Germany while working on her honor’s thesis and participated in the University Students Acting Against Cancer during that time. She served as the director of community outreach, vice president, and president, with the organization before graduating.
She said her involvement with YAC helped her develop skills earlier on such as creating grant proposals, managing a budget, and conducting meetings.
“It’s not something you typically have exposure to when you’re younger, so as you get older and more involved with that stuff, it was nice to already have that experience,” Gooden said.
A genetic cancer that her mother and family have, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), motivated her to become a doctor and she went on to attend medical school at Ross University School of Medicine, earning her MD in 2018.
Currently, Gooden is a clinician educator and is working on her internal medicine residency at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport. She will complete her residency in June 2022 and plans to pursue a fellowship in gastroenterology and continue in academic medicine as a clinician educator and researcher on FAP.
She said her experience with YAC had a positive impact on her life and it gave her experience that helped her hit the ground running.
“Not to mention the more practical skills that you get from YAC, it helped me see beyond my immediate community and what the needs are through a bigger population base,” Gooden said.
For youth who are interested in getting involved? She encourages them to join YAC.
“To do something beyond yourself, put yourself aside and give back to the community, it’s just an incredible opportunity to be able to do that so young,” Gooden said.