Vanderbilt student born in prison now excels in medical school - WSMV Channel 4

Vanderbilt student born in prison now excels in medical school

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Cody Stothers Cody Stothers

A Vanderbilt University medical student who was born in a prison hospital has learned he will have his schooling paid in full with the help of a program that is now expanding in Middle Tennessee.

Cody Stothers could end up being the doctor who discovers the next medical breakthrough. At 22 years old, he's already a published author and spends 27 hours a week in a Vanderbilt laboratory.

But this remarkable story of success began in, of all places, prison.

"My mom at the time was in prison for drugs, so my grandma got a phone call that I was born and needed a place to go, so she picked me up and raised me after that," Stothers said.

And with that chance, he chose a life far different from where it started in small town Arkansas.

At age 16, Stothers was recruited for Aspirnaut, a program at Vanderbilt that aims to help gifted students from disadvantaged homes.

"I accepted and came, and the rest is history," he said.

The program was started in 2006 by married Vanderbilt professors Billy and Julie Hudson. Before teaching biochemistry, Billy Hudson was a high school dropout and grew up in an abusive home.

He then co-founded Aspirnaut as a way to pay it forward to youth who grew up like him.

Graduate students and professors from Vanderbilt teach Aspirnaut students as young as kindergarten age through Skype and Google. High school and college students in the program are housed on campus at Vanderbilt.

Aspirnaut is currently available in eight states and has 245 students in Tennessee this school year.

On his 22nd birthday a few weeks ago, Stothers became the first Aspirnaut student to be accepted into Vanderbilt's M.D./Ph.D. program on a full scholarship.

Without the program, he may have never had this chance. Now, he says his goal is to give back.

"Hopefully I can make a difference in other people's lives with a discovery," Stothers said.

For more information about the Aspirnaut program, visit:

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