Wayne State University

Joshua Rivers, M3

Joshua Rivers, M3
"We're in the heart of a city with so much need. I'm at Wayne State because this is where I can do the most good."

Joshua has overcome tremendous hardship to pursue his M.D. at Wayne State University. Coming from an impoverished childhood on the east side of Detroit, he focused on his education and turned a passion for helping others into a promising medical career.

His interest in medicine grew from tragic circumstances as a child, when a severe car accident left his mother seriously injured and his younger brother paralyzed from the waist down. Over the next few years, he spent time in and out of hospitals, helping his family rehabilitate and — much to the surprise of physicians — his brother learn to walk again.

“My mother is the most selfless person I know. She has dedicated her entire life to ensuring that my brothers and I had a better life than she did. She has always helped me focus on the positive, even through the worst times in our lives. I owe all my success and achievements to her.”

As a first-generation college student, Joshua sometimes worked two jobs to help finance his education. After earning his B.S. in biology from Saginaw Valley State University, he enrolled in an accelerated graduate program at the University of Michigan, where it took him only one year to earn his M.S. in human physiology.

Joshua came to WSU in 2013. In the heart of his hometown, he supports his peers as president of the Black Medical Association, where he has led multiple seminars discussing the importance of cultural inclusion at all levels. As a student representative on the School of Medicine’s Diversity Advisory Council and a member of the Student National Medical Association, Joshua continues to thrive as an effective leader. He also supports the community through volunteer work with at-risk youth, in tutoring and mentorship programs for aspiring medical students, in free clinics such as Street Medicine Detroit, in local neighborhoods with Motor City Blight Busters, and in soup kitchens across the city.

Now Joshua is shifting his focus to research. To build on his experience studying population genetics and cardiac electrophysiology, he will spend the next year conducting translational and epidemiologic cardiology research in Bethesda, Maryland, as part of the National Institutes of Health’s prestigious Medical Research Scholars Program.

“As an undergrad, I never really had an interest in research. But through guidance and mentorship here at the School of Medicine, I realized that research is a necessary avenue to impact patient care on a larger scale. While treating patients is very important to me, I think improving how we treat patients can make an even greater impact.”

Joshua is what Aiming Higher looks like. 

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