This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top medical schools and the med school application process. And now, introducing Chierika Ukogu…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Chierika: I am originally from Philadelphia. I went to Stanford and graduated in 2014 with a major in human biology and a minor in classics (Latin).
Accepted: Where are you currently attending medical school? What year are you?
Chierika: I am a first year at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Accepted: How did you know that Mount Sinai was the right “fit” for you?
Chierika: I chose Sinai for a lot of the same reasons I went to Stanford for undergrad. Sinai fosters a spirit of innovation that I have always aligned with. I love that it doesn’t adhere to traditions (i.e. flexmed program or humanities in the curriculum). I am also interested in health disparities and social determinants of health, and Sinai’s location on the Upper East Side and East Harlem definitely keeps me aware of the gaps I hope to close as a practicing physician.
Accepted: You decided to take a two year break in between your undergrad and starting medical school, to prep for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Was that a difficult decision to make? Was it hard to go back to school after taking a break?
Chierika: It wasn’t difficult for me to take a break. I had always planned on a gap year so extending it a bit was an easy choice. My transition has been way smoother than I expected. Rowing has given me the discipline and efficiency necessary to excel so far!
Accepted: You were the first person to represent Nigeria at the Summer Olympics in a rowing event. (What an AMAZING achievement!) How exciting was the Olympic experience for you?
Chierika: Going to the Olympics was definitely a dream come true, and I never thought I would make it back when I started rowing in 2006. There was an added benefit of being able to inspire Nigerians and Americans who have not traditionally had rowing exposure to try it out.
Accepted: Lastly, what are your top three tips for those going through the application process? Any tips that you think others would find helpful?
1. Make sure you have a schedule and try to stick to it. It will make turning around secondaries easy and it will keep you on track.
2. Get feedback on your application…but not from too many people, stay true to yourself.
3. Take care of yourself, waiting can be tough, but things have a way of working out!
You can see more of Chierika’s story by following her on Instagram (@cukogu) and Twitter (@cukogu) and see her Olympic rowing video here. Thank you Chierika for sharing your story with us – we wish you continued success!
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