A Mizzou senior who was born with a cleft condition plans to attend medical school to help others, and she’s also started an Operation Smile club at the school in Columbia.
Hannibal native Emilee Carleton tells 939 the Eagle that she’s undergone 14 surgeries to help repair her cleft condition.
“A cleft condition is any condition of the nose or mouth where there is a hole between your oral cavity. So it can be at the top of your mouth, which is a cleft palate or between your lip and nose, which is a cleft lip,” Carleton says.
She’ll soon join the student programs team at Operation Smile headquarters as a content intern, where she’ll help launch a new medical website. Operation Smile is a global nonprofit specializing in expert cleft surgery and care.
Emilee says she was ridiculed as a child for looking and speaking differently. She says people would stare at her and call her names while growing up.
“I realized there were things about me that were different. And all I wanted was to have the beliefs that I could do anything that any other person could do. And I was limited because there are people who limit their mentalities toward people who look different I think,” says Carleton.
Ms. Carleton plans to go to medical school. Her goal is to make an impact on the way people view themselves by providing medical care that enables them to feel better physically and emotionally. She’s also started Mizzou’s Operation Smile club and hopes to meet UM System President Dr. Mun Choi to share the story about Operation Smile Club’s work to help children and other people.
Click here to listen to the full interview between 939 the Eagle’s Brian Hauswirth and Mizzou senior Emilee Carleton: