Sarah Merrill had 9 children and had to put medicine to the side. Now, with the support of her family, she is chasing her childhood dream.

As you get older, life pulls you in different directions and you find yourself in places you never planned.

One mother of 9 had to put her aspirations on hold for a while, but with the support of her family, she’s making strides towards her childhood dream.

Why a Woman Stopped Following Her Dream of Becoming a Doctor

Recently, Sarah Merrill, age 41, received her medical degree from The Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Phoenix, Arizona. Her journey to medical school began as early as age 17, when she enrolled Dartmouth College as a pre-med. By the time she graduated from Dartmouth, she and her husband already had a 5-month old daughter.

Sarah had plans to go straight into medical school after college but decided it was best to prioritize her newborn. She committed to being a stay-at-home mom and began growing her family

Fast forward to present day and Sarah has 9 children who currently range from 20-8 years old. “We weren’t necessarily going for a large family, in particular, in our planning, but that is what we did,” Sarah said. “We ended up having four daughters and five sons, and we had all nine of those kids in 12 years.”

With motherhood duties taking command of her time, Sarah did part-time medical research to try and keep one foot in the door of medicine. She knew that her story didn’t end there. When her youngest child reached the age of 2, Sarah decided it was time to go back to school.

“Before I even applied to medical school, we had a big family meeting and everybody got to voice their opinion about it and we explained to them what it would mean,” Sarah said. “They all gave it a big vote of support at the time.”

How One Mom Proved It’s Never Too Late to Chase Your Dreams

After the family meeting, Sarah received the green light from her family to apply for medical school. She was accepted into The Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine and her family made the move from Pensilvania to Arizona. She had a crew of support. Her mom moved down to help with the kids and her husband’s remote job gave him some extra time.

“A lot of times my teenage daughters would say, ‘Hey, mom, let’s have a homework party,’ so that’s what we do for fun,” Sarah mentioned. “We’d have snacks and they’d be doing their homework and I’d be studying for medical school.” They turned it into a real family affair.

After graduating from medical school, Sarah found that being a mom helped her be a better student. “Waiting so long to do this, I think, made me appreciate it more and made me enjoy it more,” Sarah said. “And once I got into my clinical rotations, I noticed that I had a lot of life experience that helped me connect with a lot of patients, especially on my pediatrics and OBGYN rotations.”

After years of being a super-mom, Sarah is back on track to accomplish her childhood dream. For her next step, she is attending a neurosurgery residency at Indiana University. Her family plans to join her in Indiana for support.

When asked about the journey at this stage, Sarah puts emphasis on always holding on to your dreams. “Set the goals that are what you’re really passionate about, that you would love to do and want to do, and once you’ve set that goal, then it helps to think small,” Sarah said. “If you know what your priorities are, focus on the next step and then you’ll get where you want to go.”

This mother of 9 never let life get in the way of her goals. Now, with the support of her family, she is more equipped than ever.

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