Jessica Luc

2016 Finalist: Leaders Of Tomorrow Sponsored By Alberta Economic Development And Trade

Medical student uses entrepreneurship to fuel her success

Pursuing a medical education full-time, co-founding several companies, running a non-profit organization and teaching music to kids, Jessica Luc truly does it all. While it may seem like someone would need eight arms to accomplish all of this, Luc is simply an average 21 year old who believes there is no such thing as not having enough time. “If something is important enough to you, then you’ll make the time to do it,” Luc says. “A lot of things are important enough to me that I make the time, even if that means getting up at 4:00am for those extra few hours of my day.”

Luc isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon. She is currently in her third year of medical school at the University of Alberta and is getting ready to apply for residency next year where her life as a future surgeon will make her the epitome of time management.

First exposure to surgery

Luc says that she owes her passion for the sciences to her mentors, who opened her eyes to the fascinating world of surgery. “[My mentors] showed me what they were doing in the lab and how they were able to take lungs and hearts out of a body and put them on a machine to keep them alive,” Luc says. “The moment you put your hands on some lungs and feel them expand or put your hands on a heart and feel it beat, it’s such a humbling experience.”

It’s from here that Luc began her medical student journey at the University of Alberta, where she is involved in several big projects ranging from building NASA nanosatellites to developing a new organ donation teaching curriculum for future medical students to be launched in the upcoming year.

One of her main projects is her work with ex-vivo lung perfusion technology, where she and her mentors are working towards battling the lack of organ donors. “We take a donor lung outside of the body and we keep it alive for 12 hours. Then we evaluate its function before we transplant it into a recipient,” Luc explains. “The idea is that we could fix damaged lungs that would otherwise have been thrown away to combat the shortage of donors, where one in three patients on the waiting list die waiting for lungs.”

Putting the ‘care’ in healthcare

Luc realizes that it’s not enough just to do the research, she also felt the need to go out into the world and lend a helping hand. “I believe that as a medical student and a future medical professional, we need to innovate and work towards making the future better for all, and work on tackling the problems that are apparent in our society,” Luc says.

She does this through her many initiatives such as the Humanism in Medicine film festival, temporary boutique store for homeless youth and her many humanitarian ventures specifically aimed at bullying and eating disorders.

The most prominent of these is the non-profit she co-founded called Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful (BYOKOB). This organization raises awareness about bullying, eating disorders and deconstructing society’s perceptions of beauty. Through BYOKOB, Luc has organized the first fashion show of all sizes in Edmonton, the first mental health symposium on eating disorders at the University of Alberta and the filming of a documentary on eating disorders.

With her contributions to so many different areas of society, Luc is truly a renaissance woman: she’s involved in the sciences, music, the humanities, athletics, and soon she will be unleashed into the world as a future surgeon.