Hometown: Originally from Lagos, Nigeria. I’ve moved around quite a bit and now claim Philadelphia, PA.
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Double Major in Sociology of Health & Medicine and African Studies; Minor in Biology
Name of Professional School: The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Favorite Quote: “Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still I’ll rise.” – Maya Angelou (“Still I Rise”)
Contact Information: Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out my blog! – Curve Balls And Med School
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am currently a first-year medical student at OSU. I graduated undergrad in 2013, worked as a research coordinator for two years, as well as a high school cross-country and track coach. After that, I did MEDPATH, a one year postbac program at OSU, before matriculating into medical school. I decided in the beginning of my junior year of college that I would take a gap year or two before starting medical school. My main reasons were (1) Grades. I felt like I needed to make myself more competitive, specifically my science grades. As a double major, balancing two humanities studies and my pre-med coursework proved to be challenging at times. (2) I wanted to gain some real world experience before plunging into medicine. I knew I had the rest of my life to dedicate to medicine, so my gap years would be my only shot to explore the world a bit and try different things.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell her?
Girrrrrrl, stop doubting yourself! I know you feel like almost everyone at Penn went to private high schools or really good public schools, but girl, you’re here just like them. Just put in the work like you’ve always done, and remove those self-doubts. The key thing is FOCUS. Don’t overextend yourself with activities, focus on your goal, and most importantly, believe in yourself. God got you!
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
Find mentors! This is so huge! It took me a while to find some mentors to guide me in my journey. That’s definitely something I wish I had sought out in the beginning of my college career. During my gap years however, I met a lot of med students and doctors along the way that have inspired and mentored me. It certainly makes a big difference.
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
One word, MCAT. I took the exam three times using a self-study method. Two of those three times, I was working full-time (40 hrs/ week). It was rough. And all three scores were not competitive. It wasn’t until I took the Princeton Review course which was offered free by my postbac program, did I truly conquer the MCAT. So yes, I took the MCAT a total of four times. In the past, I hadn’t been able to afford a MCAT prep program, but having my postbac program pay for it made a HUGE difference in my score. I nailed it big time and proved that the MCAT can definitely be defeated.
What is your favorite thing about your medical school?
There are so many things to name! The people, the collaborative atmosphere, the school spirit, the resources, I mean OSU is just awesome all around. This is my first experience going to a huge state school and as you may know, we’re BIG on football. So it’s been exciting tapping into that school spirit. At the same time, my classmates are so nice and so collaborative! We all want to see each other pass, so we share study guides, resources we found helpful, and so on.
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to medical schools?
Find people who are also starting their application process and encourage each other. Sometimes it can feel really discouraging waiting for interviews and decisions. For me, it certainly was and I’ve written a couple of blog posts about that. Definitely check it out. It’s so important to surround yourself around positive people who will lift you up and encourage you. And if you’re feeling all alone in this, do something I did – look through Instagram profiles of med students and doctors. I did this A LOT and imagined myself being in their shoes.
Also very important is being organized and submitting your application early. I’ve written a whole series on this on my blog.
What do you like to do for fun?
Dancing! I like to go salsa dancing with a friend during the weekends. That is, whenever we can catch a break. I also like writing on my blog, working out, and watching movies.
How have you been able to deal with your romantic relationship and medical school at the same time?
It’s definitely something I work at every day. My significant other is also a medical student, so we understand each other’s schedules. At the same time because we’re both busy medical students and also long distance, we recognize the importance of communication. MAJOR KEY. We’re constantly texting and checking in with each other throughout the day. We also make it a point to see each other at least once a month. Just like with everything, you make time for what matters to you.
What extra-curricular activities are you involved in at your school?
I am involved with the OSU Student National Medical Association (SNMA) as the Health Policy Chair. I am also in a couple of specialty interest groups (no idea what specialty I want to go into yet). I recently also started tutoring for the OSU postbac program. Outside of school, I volunteer as a Sunday school teacher for Pre-K kids at my church.
Thank you so much for sharing some of your story with us Derin, as well as for your advice to all the budding medical professionals reading this! Be sure to check out her blog if you haven’t already, I’m a big fan of it myself!
Posted on November 14th, 2016