MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This is the story of the “American Dream.” A first-generation American whose grandparents were dishwashers and confectionary workers in India.
Hard work must run in the family. Dr. Jess Prischmann spoke broken English in kindergarten and is now a highly respected facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon. While that’s impressive itself, it’s everything she’s been able to achieve in between high school and medical school that makes her this week’s Minnesotan to Meet.
Her office is dotted with pictures and awards. One of her grandmother is the most special.
“That’s my very favorite picture in the whole office, over all the awards and accolades,” Prischmann said.
Her mom had been the first female manager for India Air, but coming to this country was forced to start over.
“I was raised by my grandmother, my story is the story of every first-generation American whose parents did backbreaking work so they could live the American dream. When I started first grade, I don’t think I spoke English as well as I thought I did,” Prischmann said.
But by high school, Prischmann skipped the 10th grade.
“I graduated high school at 15,” she said.
At 19, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Boston University. Her last year, she was a Washington, D.C. correspondent covering the 2000 presidential election.
“That was my first major article you’re looking at…It’s the New York Times.”
Prischmann received the school’s “Blue Chip Award,” the most prestigious student award at the College of Communication.
“I was going to give up journalism and be done with it,” said Prischmann, “and the week before I started medical school I sent my resume to the TV stations in town.”
While attending medical school at Louisiana State University in her hometown of Shreveport, La., Prischmann was also working at the local NBC affiliate.
“I went from weekend sports producer to weekend reporter and my last year of medical school I was weekend sports anchor,”she said.
It didn’t stop her from excelling at medicine.
“I graduated top of my class, got inducted into the national medical honor society, sat for my boards, got 99 percentile on my board exams and was chosen to do my residency at Mayo Clinic,” Prischmann said.
She was just 23 when she started her residency at Mayo Clinic. During her time there, she and her sister, a director at CBS Radio in New York, visited Minneapolis to celebrate her birthday.
“We were walking into the Graves Hotel and he pulled in behind us,” Prischmann said . “He drove down to Rochester, and we went on a date and I just knew that it was it for me.”
Her husband, Matt, has taught her new hobbies and supported her through the rest of her residency, a fellowship in Indianapolis and her board exams.
“I took my boards and got the highest score,” Prischmann said. “I was the fourth woman to get the highest score in the country, this was all before the age of 30.”
She now runs her own private practice in Edina.
“When you marry someone from Minnesota, all roads lead back to Minnesota,” Prischmann said.
That doesn’t mean she doesn’t remember where she came from: That hard-working family and a grandmother who passed away last year and taught her so much.
“She would always tell me the secret to success is to have understanding, understand life and people,” Prischmann said.
When Prischmann isn’t working, she’s still giving back, volunteering at least once a month in Shakopee offering medical advice. She also volunteers as a youth mentor for Bolder Options, a Twin Cities mentoring program for at-risk youth.
She said she gives back because she wants others to be able to achieve what she has.