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(AUDIO): Mizzou student with cleft condition meets with UM System president

(AUDIO): Mizzou student with cleft condition meets with UM System president

UM System President Dr. Mun Choi meets with Mizzou senior and Hannibal native Emilee Carleton in his Columbia office in April 2023 (photo courtesy of UM System spokesman Christian Basi)

We have a follow-up today on a story we first brought you in mid-March about a Mizzou senior born with a cleft condition who plans to attend medical school to help others.

Hannibal native Emilee Carleton told 939 the Eagle that she’s undergone 14 surgeries to help repair her cleft condition, and she told us she hoped to meet UM System President Dr. Mun Choi to share the story about Operation Smile Club’s work to help people. President Choi heard Emilee’s story on 939 the Eagle, and they recently met in the president’s office.

“Just meeting this incredibly talented and passionate young person that went through a lot through her life. She wants to use her education and further training to help others, and I was really inspired,” President Choi says.

Dr. Choi sys they discussed several things, including what it was like growing up in Missouri, how Carleton’s experiences have been at Mizzou and how she became interested in this project.

Emilee Carleton has undergone numerous surgeries to help repair her cleft condition. She says she was ridiculed as a child for looking and speaking differently, and that people would stare at her and call her names while growing up.

She told 939 the Eagle in March that she wanted to meet Dr. Choi  to discuss her plans to go to medical school and provide medical care to people so they can feel better physically and emotionally. Dr. Choi followed-up by meeting Emilee and putting her in contact with University Hospital Dr. Adam Beckett.

“Who goes around the world helping those that live in developing countries get the medical care that they desperately need. And so, when he comes back from his overseas travel later this month, they’re going to get together and I know that she’ll find him to be a great mentor that can help her in her journey to get into medical school,” says Carleton.

Emilee describes a cleft condition as any condition of the nose or mouth where there is a hole between your oral cavity. Emilee is joining the student programs team at Operation Smile headquarters as a content intern, where she’s helping to launch a new medical website.