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Son of the soil returns home as medical doctor and biomolecular engineer

Son of the soil returns home as medical doctor and biomolecular engineer

~ Intends to give back, make a difference ~

PHILIPSBURG--Son of the soil Dr. Damien Jonas Wilson, a former St. Maarten Academy (academic) student, returned home to St. Maarten over the weekend after accomplishing his dream of becoming a general medical doctor and biomolecular engineer
The young medical practitioner is now ready to give back to his community in whatever way he can. “It is my intention to give back to the country in the form of quality medical care and to make a difference wherever I can. It would be a waste not to bring back home and put into practice the best of my experiences that I have acquired abroad,” he told The Daily Herald.

Wilson is a dual professional – a general practitioner (medical doctor), having completed training in General Medicine and Surgery at University of Zagreb Faculty of Medicine in the Republic of Croatia and a Biomolecular Engineer from the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.
Wilson said he decided to embark on this unique course of studies, because while he was always fascinated by the workings of the human body, he could not overlook the importance of bridging the gap between science and medicine, which he believes go hand in hand.
“This enables me to effectively make those vital connections between the nature and progression of diseases in order to better help people who are in need of medical treatment. It came with the cost of many years of additional studying, but I have no regrets, because I have acquired an extensive catalogue of experience, knowledge and skills.”
He minced no words when asked why he decided to return home. “Home is home ... There are indeed countless opportunities for me in places such as the Netherlands and Croatia, but I have always maintained the mindset that my country needs its people, and as sons and daughters of the soil, we have an obligation to come back and make our country into what we desire it to be. If we don’t, then who will?”
Asked how he feels achieving his academic goals, Wilson said as with any big achievement in life, it feels “really good.
“It is an especially indescribable feeling to see and sense how proud all of those who played instrumental roles throughout my life are – my family, friends, educators and the wider community. I must honestly say that I do feel exhausted from the journey, but nothing great ever comes without great sacrifice.
“I am truly elated, sometimes I do feel the pressure of literally being responsible for the lives of other people, but it is that pressure that keeps me sharp and motivated. I do not view it in any negative light whatsoever, and even better, I thrive under pressure.”
The biggest challenge he encountered on his tertiary educational journey was when he first left St. Maarten in 2006. “It was my first time on my own, in a foreign country that was very far away from home. To say that I had a culture shock would be an understatement; and to add insult to injury, I had to learn fast how to deal with prejudice because of my ethnicity. It was not easy, but fortunately I give credit to my parents who raised me up in a very mentally robust manner that enables me to adapt quickly when faced with adversity.”
As for rewards, he said: “Throughout my journey I have always excelled in my academics, which enabled me to have the humbling opportunity to be at the Harvard Medical School’s Massachusetts General Hospital for one year. Receiving the Dean’s Commendation for top academic performance at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Medicine was further testament to the calibre student that I was.
“Notwithstanding these awards, the biggest reward of all came at the end of my journey, when I saw the pride and joy on the faces of my parents, sisters and friends on the day that I graduated. Hearing people say that they are proud of you is one thing, but seeing them express that pride with tears and raw emotions is completely another, and is a phenomenon that I truly cannot put into words to express.”
Wilson’s family has been the bedrock of his foundation. “Not only were they supportive financially, but they were also there emotionally as well. I spoke with my parents and sister at least twice every single day that I have been away for the past decade. First thing in the morning when they woke up and last thing at night before I went to bed. A phone call from home always does wonders on even your roughest of days.”
Wilson was born in French St. Martin in 1989 to David Wilson and Chantal Wilson Rogers. His father is a civil servant and his mother a banker at Windward Islands Bank (WIB). He grew up in Cole Bay and was educated in Dutch St. Maarten. He began his education at the Methodist Agogic Center Campus 3, after which he moved on to St. Maarten Academy, where he sat the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC). He pursued his tertiary studies at the University of Zagreb – Faculty of Medicine graduating as a medical doctor and the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences.
He has two sisters, Diveltah Wilson Paredes Castillo and Kendra Wilson. He is also an uncle to nephews Cito and Dova, and brother-in-law to David Paredes Castillo. Wilson said he was always a very quiet child growing up who had a passion for reading books, especially ones about the human body and diseased states.
“I was very playful at times, but for the most part I was always more academically inclined. From a very early age I knew that I wanted to become a doctor. In fact, as early as the first grade at the Methodist Agogic Center primary school, I can recall telling my teacher that I wanted to become a doctor when I grew up.”
He speaks English and Dutch fluently, and basic Spanish, French and Croatian. He was St. Maarten’s Junior Minister of Tourism in 2003 and he had the honour to be on St. Maarten Academy’s debate team, which he led to an Interscholastic Debating Competition victory in 2005. He also had the privilege to lead the national debate team of St. Maarten with the Hyacinth Richardson Educational Awareness Foundation to victory in Anguilla in 2005 where he received the Best Speaker Award at the Leeward Islands Debating Competition.
He graduated valedictorian of the St. Maarten Academy in 2006, was the Prom King of the graduating class, and received the St. Maarten Personality of the Year Award in the field of Oration and Debate in 2006. He had also received the St. Maarten Youth Council’s Pursuit of Excellence Award in 2006; was a student-peer-teacher at the Department of Pathophysiology at the University of Zagreb, and a guest lecturer at the University North, both in Croatia.
He has also published several scientific papers in reputable research journals and has co-authored conference papers for the American Society for Microbiology. During his latter university years, he was actively engaged in clinical neurology, neuroscience, neuro-oncology, haemato-oncology, cancer genetics and clinical microbiology research.
He had a positive message for young people desirous of following in his footsteps. “Medicine is a very noble profession, but do not be tempted to go into medicine because of status, money or other insincere reasons. Become a doctor because you truly care about helping others and are prepared to do so in the most altruistic of ways when called upon.
“You do not need to be a genius to study medicine; you do, however, need to be hardworking, disciplined and organised. You also need to be prepared to push yourself to both intellectual and physical limits, but they are not beyond you. If you are determined and motivated, you will reach places that others only dream about,” he advised.

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