Alex Coston, M22

School: School of Medicine 

Degree: Doctor of Medicine 

Home: My community, my friends and chosen family, my biological family, my partner, and my cats 

In ten years, you will be… 

Working as a family physician in a community that historically has been oppressed and has not gotten the resources it needs—and trying to advocate for a more antiracist and just medical system.  

What’s the most important thing you learned that you will take with you? 

The fact that you can’t do this work alone: in order to do medicine and advocacy well, you need a community behind you, as well as different voices and perspectives. At Tufts, being surrounded by people who are equally passionate and who are trying to make changes on a community level and an institutional level has been really great for me. People actually listen, and sometimes you feel like an equal partner in making change. But hierarchy can come into play anywhere, so having people working beside you and supporting you is really important if you’re going to keep going and keep making change.   

Any particularly valuable lessons learned outside the classroom? 

Focusing on how much we can learn from the patients in front of us, in the clinical setting—that’s been a phenomenal learning experience. So much of what we learn as medical students comes through other people’s experiences. It’s such a privilege to be let into that experience, especially in intense medical situations where people are getting terrible news or making pivotal decisions about their health care. I want to always remember that patients are in control of the decisions about their care. I don’t ever want to take their autonomy for granted.  

What’s your superpower? 

I am able to use my voice to make change. Coming from a marginalized identity and background and then moving into medicine, which has historically elevated a lot of people in positions of power and helped them stay in those positions — that has allowed me to speak up and advocate for others. I try to do so in any situation where I feel like it could be helpful to have my voice or to lend myself as a vessel for other marginalized voices if they don’t have the opportunity to speak. It’s not that it’s easy. But I try to recognize the fear that I feel in that moment and push past it; I don’t pretend it’s not there, but I know that there’s something bigger that I’m going for in that moment, and I remember that I’m doing it for my community and people that I love. 

This profile originally appeared as part of the series “Profiles in Inspiration: Commencement 2022 Spotlights."

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