This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the med school application process. And now, introducing our anonymous blogger, “A.”…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergraduate? What is your favorite flavor ice cream?
A.: I have lived in California for almost my entire life. Though I have moved a few times, I have never left LA County and I actually attended UCLA as an undergraduate. I came into UCLA with a passion for working with children and an interest in Psychology, which led me to major in Psychobiology and minor in Applied Developmental Psychology. I worked my way through college and was involved in a few extracurriculars, my favorite being Campus Events where I helped put on advanced screenings of feature films.
My favorite flavor ice cream? That’s a tough one! I would have to say that during my time at UCLA, I converted from Rocky Road to Jamoca Almond Fudge – you just can’t beat that precious union of coffee and chocolate!
Accepted: What stage of the med school application process are you up to?
A.: Well, I recently took the MCAT and am currently preparing my list of schools. I am researching both MD and DO programs as well as a few post-bacc and special master’s programs and narrowing down my options. I am also beginning to draft up my personal statement and contact certain professors for letters of recommendation. So I guess I’m sort of just gearing up for when the application opens up on May 1st (which I just realized is less than a month away!).
Accepted: Would you describe yourself as a traditional or non-traditional med school applicant?
A.: A traditional medical school applicant is one who goes directly into medical school after undergraduate, right? So I guess I would describe myself as a non-traditional medical school applicant since I am taking at least two years off in between. And even more so because throughout my years in college, I entertained other career choices as well and was extremely close to pursuing a PhD in Developmental Psychology instead!
Accepted: What’s been the most challenging stage of this premed process so far? What steps have you taken to overcome that challenge?
A.: Oh, I would definitely say that my undergraduate years were the most challenging “stage” of the premed process thus far (yes, even more so than the MCAT!). You come into college being told to keep an open mind and therefore, I, personally, had a hard time coming to terms with what I really wanted.
Being a doctor was definitely up there as a career choice, but so was being a writer, a teacher, or a film industry professional.
I was so afraid of choosing a career path that I would later regret or be unhappy with, that although I took pre-med classes, I was hesitant in committing 100%. Therefore, my heart wasn’t really into it and more so, I felt inadequate compared to those students who you would typically label as “gunners”.
In such an academically competitive environment, my self-esteem definitely took a hit and I felt like there was no way I could succeed, so instead, I just tried to remain afloat. And because I threw myself into so many extracurriculars and tried to get the most out of my college experience, I never had a moment to step back and really consider what I was truly passionate about.
It wasn’t until I had graduated and traveled abroad for a bit that I had a moment to breathe. And that was when a sense of clarity set in – there is no other profession I would rather pursue and even if it takes years, I will become a doctor one day.
Accepted: Do you have a dream med school? Where do you hope to attend?
A.: Every day as I do a little more research, another really amazing school catches my eye and I think, “Wow, it would be great to go here!” So I guess to answer your question, I don’t have a dream medical school. Every school I apply to is a “dream medical school” and I would be honored to get just one acceptance.
That being said, I have been looking at a lot of DO schools lately – I absolutely love the philosophy behind osteopathic medicine – and would definitely be thrilled to attend a DO school in California such as Touro University or Western University of Health Sciences. Actually, any medical school in California would be the dream given the tuition prices!
Accepted: Your About A. page is so intriguing! Can you give us a few more hints about your identity?
A.: Well, here are some fun facts: my full name is 26 letters long, longer than Chrysanthemum, and the same length as the American alphabet. I don’t have a middle name, but the first part of my first name means infinity and the second part means music, so I like to think my first name means infinite music. But wait! There’s more – my last name literally translates to ‘Lion King’, which I think is appropriate, as I believe my Animagus would be a lion. Not enough information? Google “ENFJ” – it’s pretty spot on!
Accepted: You have about a year until you start med school. How many items on your Bucket List do you think you can knock off by then?
A.: Oh, I hope I can knock out at least ten by the end of this year! But you know, the best thing about bucket lists is that they are never-ending. The more you get out of your comfort zone and explore the world, the stronger the desire to see even more. I mean, we are human after all – we have this yearning for more. So I’m pretty sure that in a year, though I may be lucky to get a few items crossed off, my list will probably be even longer than it is now! And I’m always open to suggestions!
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? What do you hope to gain from the blogging experience?
A.: I began my blog back in 2009, when I was a senior in high school and awaiting to hear back from colleges. I have always found comfort in writing down my thoughts and opinions and to be able to share them through a public forum was invigorating. Though I may not write consistently as some other bloggers, I find that when I do write, it is driven by an intrinsic need to share a momentous memory or event. Regardless of whether I am experiencing joy or hardship, writing allows me to clear my mind and think logically.
Yes, I am a pre-med student and I do hope to attend medical school one day. So I often write about what I encounter through this application process. And maybe when that time comes, my blog may shift its focus to include more stories from a medical perspective. However, there is more to me than simply being a pre-med student – I am a young woman, a musician, a writer, an explorer, an optimist, a hopeless romantic, and so much more. I come from a low-income, ethnic background and every day I learn something new.
Therefore, when you ask if I have a “target audience”, I would hope that my blog would cater to anyone who is simply going through this roller coaster ride known as life. As cheesy as that metaphor might be, I think it definitely illustrates the ups, downs, and transitions that everyone from adolescents to adults face today. As students, we may be taught exceptional material by renowned teachers and professors, but no one ever teaches you how to deal with the “in-betweens”. The curveballs that get thrown at you. What actually comes after “happily ever after”. I hope my blog conveys that sentiment – that there is confusion, struggle, and sometimes a little fear when figuring out what’s next. But with the downs, there are always ups, and that is the beauty of life.
I titled my blog Serendipity five years ago because it was such a lovely word and a great feel-good romantic comedy. I’ve held on to that title five years later, however, because I have noticed several events in my own life that seemed to be fortunate accidents. Life works in mysterious ways and what may seem ill fated at the time may actually be a blessing in disguise. So all in all, whoever my readers may be, my only wish is that they begin to see and perhaps appreciate serendipitous acts in their own lives.
You can read more about A.’s journey by checking out her blog, ser·en·dip·i·ty. Thank you A. for sharing your story with us!
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