Sao Paulo Brazil is a mega-metropolis that has more cars than Rio de Janeiro has people. It is a unique city that no matter how hard you look you probably won’t see a billboard…anywhere. This is because in 2006 the city outlawed “visual pollution.” It can also be argued that it is the pizza capital of the world with over 1 million pizzas consumed daily. And was in Sao Paulo where Ana Valente first saw the light of day. But she was around a year old when her parents decided to relocate to Bristol, Tennessee.
Ana’s parents were returning to Northeast Tennessee from Brazil where they both were originally from. Both of her parents grew up in slums in Northeast Brazil. Both had been taken under the wing of a missionary named Charles Alexander who helped them escape their lives of poverty and enroll at King. And it was at King where Ana’s parents met and fell in love. They would both graduate and temporarily return to Brazil where they got married and gave birth to Ana.
At a year-old Ana began her life in Bristol and enjoyed a wonderful upbringing in a loving and supportive home. Her father was the soccer coach at Tennessee High School. When Ana was of age she too attended Tennessee High and played on the soccer team where she excelled. But along with soccer she was also an exceptional student and decided to pursue Pre-Med with a major in Cell and Molecular Biology, though her favorite class was Dr. Pickard’s organic chemistry. “I really loved it!” She said. “Dr. Pickard’s organic chemistry was my favorite class that I ever took.”
For Ana science just made sense. When she wasn’t studying or playing soccer, she worked in a neurotoxicology lab. “I loved working in the lab.” Her positivity and high energy helped her be proficient at everything she touched. Ana graduated from King and enrolled at the University of Tennessee for Medical School. “I loved Med School too,” Ana said with a smile. And it was in class at medical school that she met her future husband. Together they plunged into the world of medicine, supporting each other, both moving forward toward their dreams. They would graduate and get residency positions in New Orleans, together. Everything was working out. The hard work, the dedication, the belief in God’s guidance was paying forward.
Ana became an OBGYN and delivered many babies. She loved this work and found it to be very rewarding but there is a specialized field where she felt she could make the greatest impact, oncology. She wants to study and help women who are suffering from gynecological cancer. This pursuit requires specialized training and there aren’t very many programs that offer it and only about 58 openings per year nationwide. Ana was admitted into the program through the University of Oklahoma where she is currently studying. It has been a long road but a very rewarding one. “A lot of my success I owe to that great foundation I received at King,” Ana says. “My undergraduate education was so strong. I was very prepared for this difficult and competitive field,” Ana says.
She is nearly finished with her studies and looking forward to a career of service. And it is her work ethic, perseverance, strong Christian-faith, and dedication to service that encompasses everything that it means to be a King graduate. King is so proud of all of her accomplishments and knows that each of her patients someday will be getting cared for by the best.