As she struggled with junior high algebra at SS. Joachim and Anne School in Queens, Marie-Dominique Toussaint knew where it was all supposed to lead: she would be a doctor, an ambition inspired by her father, a physician she rarely saw, and fueled by her mother, a nurse who immigrated from Haiti.
Ms. Toussaint, now 34, arrived in New York at the age of 4, in time to start climbing the American educational ladder to medical school. There were setbacks; she had yet to finish college when her mother died, forcing her to support herself. But she pushed on, scaling back her tuition costs and becoming a nurse instead — for now.
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