Hometown: Miami, FL
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Biology/Chemistry
Name of Medical School(s): Master of Public Health: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine: University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Favorite Quote: “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. I knew since I was a little girl that I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to help others and know that I was making a difference in someone else’s life. I now feel that being a physician is one of the highest honors possible because it gives me the chance to put someone else’s best interests before my own and to learn the true meaning of service, commitment, and compassion.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell her?
I would tell myself to keep a positive attitude at all times and to never compare myself to the next student. I knew that college would be hard and getting into medical school would be harder but I had no idea the amount of rigor, discipline, and dedication that it takes to successfully gain entrance to a medical school. I thought it would be just as easy as it was getting accepted into college, which I now know it’s far from that. Many nights, I felt like my efforts were in vain and I was fighting a losing battle. That coupled with issues at home was the perfect recipe for me to have a perpetual negative attitude. I also felt that I wasn’t as good or as competitive as some of my other classmates that wanted to be doctors as well. Looking back, I know that I should have been thankful for every experience I had in college and throughout life in general because it made me the person that I am today. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for that and I met some amazing people along the way that reminded me that I could be whatever I wanted to be. I think by nature we tend to be the hardest critics of ourselves which can be a good and a bad thing at times. It’s important to remember that you are your own person and you have different life experiences from everyone else around you, so you shouldn’t compare yourself to anyone else.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
Be confident in your abilities and surround yourself with positive people who will encourage you and push you to your limits to be a better person. If you come across someone in your path that is doing the exact opposite, don’t be afraid to distance yourself from them no matter who they are. Humble yourself and be able to admit when you need help or if you need improvement in some area. Understand that your journey is just that, YOUR journey. The end goal is to become a doctor and everyone’s timing is different. Trust the process and trust that you have what it takes to become a physician and don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Did you take some time off before medical school? If so, what did you do during that time?
I started medical school 3 years after I graduated from college. The first year I just worked (non-medical job) and the second and third year I completed my MPH degree while still working at the same place.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of medical school? The easiest part?
The most challenging part would be getting used to absorbing a large volume of information within a very short amount of time while still trying to manage all other aspects of your life. The easiest part is making friends with your classmates. Everyone automatically has something in common: a love for medicine. My classmates are great people, which made it really easy for me to befriend them.
What did you do during the summer before you started medical school?
I worked at the same job I had before and I was a teaching assistant to the Miami Model MCAT Prep program sponsored by the Office of Diversity at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. I participated in that program 3 years ago and it changed my life for the better. I felt that being a teaching assistant was my way of giving back to the program and it gave me the opportunity to meet other amazing students that were underrepresented in medicine. That being said, I did it because I wanted to and not because I had to. The summer before you start medical school is technically your last free summer so I encourage students to spend it doing something that they love or have always wanted to do. If you want to be a couch potato for 2 months, then be a couch potato and be a very good one!
What is it like attending school in your city?
Growing up in Miami, I just kind of assumed that Pittsburgh would be a big city with big city amenities. That’s not necessarily the case but I do like living here. The first thing that I noticed while being here only for a few days is that everyone is genuinely very nice just because it’s part of who they are and not because they want something from you. The food is not as great as it was hyped up to be but there are some golden nuggets throughout the city, you just have to look for them. The traffic is terrible pretty much any time of the day which I’m not a fan of, but the transit system is a lot better than it is in Miami so I can actually get around without having to drive everywhere (you have to pay to park pretty much anywhere you go). It has been a treat to actually experience seasons and I now know why people love Fall so much!
Awesome! Thank you so much for all the information you shared with us Crystal! I fully agree with the importance of not comparing yourself to anyone and understanding that your journey is YOUR journey and no one else’s! Continue to do great things and keep on staying positive!
Posted on February 10th, 2017