“My parents always had a huge influence on me that gave me this goal of becoming a physician,” she said. “They gave me an ‘I’m-going-to-do-it-and-nothing’s-going-to-stop-me kind of attitude.’ So, when I get my mind set on something, it’s going to happen no matter how long it takes.”
Being a pre-med took a considerable amount of study time, Gilda says, but planning everything allowed her to get involved in other school activities. Gilda served as co-president of Student Foundation with Brittany Madison, historian for the Association of Black Students, and as a member of the Pre-Health Professionals Academy (and Club, which are two different organizations), and Sigma Pi Chemistry Club. She also worked as a teaching assistant and lab assistant for the microbiology lab and started a small baking business with Brittany when the pandemic first hit.
“We were both interning with a nonprofit over the summer, and we came up with the baking business to raise money for the organization,” Gilda said, adding that their homemade goodies included macaroons, cake pops, cakes, truffles, and cinnamon rolls. “It was nice to do something that wasn’t medicine-related.”
While in college, Gilda also enjoyed working out, attending church with her friends, and going on as many mission trips as possible, including one last summer to Alaska and a medical mission trip this summer to Guatemala. She’s also traveled to the Dominican Republic and India.
“I’ve loved having the opportunity to be involved,” she said. “When you’re applying to medical school, they want to see that you’re pretty diverse and not just studying all the time.”
Growing up in the same town as Brittany, Gilda also attended Unlock Ministries (now known as Opportunity Tribe) and was mentored by “the most amazing high school staff” which had a vital impact on the direction of her life. She eventually became a counselor herself and volunteered with the group during high school and as an intern after she graduated. “They helped me see what it really meant to live a life for Christ,” she said.
Gilda discovered UMHB in the seventh grade when her brother, Ruddy, who is five years older, was looking at colleges.
“UMHB was one of the first ones I saw,” she recalls. “I didn’t think too much about it until my senior year hit, and I started looking again, researching places I wanted to go.”
She applied to five schools, including UMHB, and was accepted into all of them.
“But after I toured UMHB, and some other ones, I knew this is where I needed to be,” she said.
She knew her parents would never be able to afford to send her to a private university, however, Gilda’s Christian and scholastic standing stood out, and she was awarded enough scholarships to pay for everything she needed.
When asked how she felt about the donors who give so students like her can attend UMHB, Gilda covered her face and burst into tears. After a few moments, when she was able to speak, all she could manage to get out was “I’m super blessed.”
Growing up, her parents made just enough to get by, she later explained.
“Throughout the years here, it’s been amazing to have people who believe in me—people who want to see me succeed and who just pour in funds because they care. I’m so grateful. I wouldn’t be able to do college without it. I wouldn’t be able to get where I want to be in life and help others if donors didn’t do what they do.”