Hatter 275x275With schoolwork, rotations, research, and community service commitments, most medical students do not have much time for anything else. However, Brittany Hatter, MS2, balances medical school demands with another priority: raising her 15-year-old daughter and two teenaged half-sisters.

“Three weeks before I started medical school, it was just my daughter Tiyanna and me,” says Hatter, a Bessemer native. “Due to circumstances beyond my control, I adopted my two teenage sisters, and now I have three teenage girls. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

As her family’s sole breadwinner, Hatter works weekends to earn extra income. She picked up a part-time job at a local nightclub and withdrew her retirement and savings from previous jobs to make a living for her family while in medical school. She has received partial scholarships from the Executive Women International’s Birmingham chapter, the School of Medicine’s Mr. & Mrs. Claude E. Dorsey Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, and the Charles and Mildred Smith Scholarship. She also receives financial support from her loving grandmother, Peggy Brown Gardner.

BrittanyHatterHatter had her daughter, Tiyanna Brown, when she was 16 years old. With family support, Hatter finished high school and attended the University of Montevallo. “My family supported me a lot with my daughter, but I also worked three part-time jobs during undergrad,” Hatter says. She worked as a patient care assistant at Brookwood Medical Center, a substitute teacher for Shelby County Schools, and did data entry for a political surveying company.

Hatter graduated from the University of Montevallo in 2010 with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. “My ultimate goal has always been to become a physician,” Hatter shares. “But I didn’t feel prepared for medical school, so I decided to take time off to prepare for the MCAT while earning my master’s in secondary education with a concentration in biology.” She taught seventh grade life science for six years, during which time she obtained a master’s degree in teacher leadership. She also taught anatomy, physiology, and microbiology part-time at Lawson State Community College.

“I decided teaching adolescents and young adults wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I looked at UAB’s health-related programs,” Hatter says. She landed on its biomedical health sciences master’s program. “I applied, was accepted, and quit my full-time job teaching seventh grade science. I kept my part-time job at Lawson State, though.” She completed the master’s program at the top of her class with a 4.0 GPA.

Hatter was accepted to the UAB School of Medicine in March 2018. She was preparing to begin the training she had dreamed of for so long when her personal life underwent a profound transformation, but she notes that raising her daughter and sisters motivates her. “I like providing them with stability,” she says. “In addition, my daughter is my biggest cheerleader. She sees me becoming a doctor as a joint venture and accomplishment for us.”

Hatter spent this past summer conducting medical research in anesthesiology, a field her mother first acquainted her with when she was 9 years old. “My mom worked as an anesthesia technician, and she sparked that interest in me,” she says. “This summer research opportunity was a perfect fit for me.”

For Hatter, family keeps her going despite her daunting and demanding schedule. “What keeps me in a positive state of mind is knowing that I’m making my family proud and that I’m finally pursing my goal of becoming a physician,” Hatter says. “No matter what obstacles or challenges I may have faced, I never gave up on my dreams. I may have detoured, but I never derailed.”

By Bennett Page

To learn about giving to medical scholarships and minority medical scholarships, contact Jessica Brooks Lane at (205) 975-4452 or jblane@uab.edu.