Hometown: Riverdale, MD
Name of Undergraduate Institution: Oakwood University
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Biology Major
Name of Medical School: Loma Linda University School of Medicine
Favorite Quote: “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – M. Ghandi
Additional Links: IG : @drgordon93
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am currently a 2nd year medical student. I decided to become a doctor after my first medical mission trip with The National Association for the Prevention of Starvation (NAPS). Alabama had just passed the HB-56 anti-immigration law, allowing the immediate deportation of illegal immigrants. This created great panic in the Kilpatrick Hispanic community, to the point that parents were afraid to send their children to school; some were even afraid to see a doctor. I decided to join a group of NAPS volunteers who were traveling to the Kilpatrick area with a mobile medical unit in order to provide free health services. When we arrived, people lined up immediately to see the doctor. There was a nervous energy circulating amid the crowd. As time passed, I watched as expressions of uncertainty and fear were replaced with those of peace and happiness. It was evident that the people were grateful we had come to help them. Their response to the medical attention was paramount in solidifying my desire to provide quality healthcare to underserved and neglected people, by becoming a physician.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell him?
The message that I would leave to my college freshman self is to enjoy life more. I was really focused on school and active in mission work during my time in undergrad, but I did not take a lot of time to do things that I enjoyed like fun events, traveling, or playing basketball. Balance is a key part success.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
- You do not have to be a pre-med or biology major to prepare well for medical school. Study something you enjoy and just take the required classes for the schools that you want to apply to for medical school.
- Study to learn material and not just pass tests. This will help you greatly when you are preparing to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and will give you a better foundation of knowledge to lean on in the future.
- Don’t get so caught up in trying to be successful that you do not set aside time to do the things you enjoy. You only live once and there will be plenty of time to get work done, live a little!
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
One day when my mother was driving home from work, a vehicle collided with her and she suffered a brain injury due to the trauma. That brain injury caused her to have unpredictable seizures, but the seizure medication that was prescribed to her often left her fatigued and forgetful. As the result of her health complications, she could no longer work and had to rely on welfare checks for survival. While in high school, I looked into colleges that would give me scholarships because my single parent mother could not afford to support my education while receiving public assistance. Despite of those challenges, I have taken my studies seriously and have been privileged to be accepted into the Loma Linda University School of Medicine. I overcame through holding on to my personal faith in Jesus Christ. My belief that he was always with me and supporting me through every difficulty, gave me the motivation to push forward. Also, I had many positive mentors in my life that helped to guide me along the way.
How have you been able to deal with your romantic relationship and medical school at the same time?
It was definitely a challenge being in a relationship while trying to finish my first year of medical school. My main priority was to pass my classes but I had to try to make time to spend with my girlfriend. What helped was that we made Friday nights our dedicated time together. During those days, we would do fun activities together, or just chill. The principle is to understand that realistically, you may not be able to put as much time into the relationship as you want to. But because it is important to you, you should set aside times for the relationship and guard those movements jealously.
What did you do during the summer before you started medical school?
I spent time with friends, watched lots of shows, and traveled.
What do you do to get through the stressful nature of medical school?
- I remembered my why. There is a reason that I chose to head on the road that I am on. For me personally, I believe that it is a calling and something that will be able to be a blessing to many people.
- I did not try to go through it alone. Though I feel as though I have things together most of the time, the reality is that I do not. For the times where things were not going the way I wanted them, I talked to friends or family for encouragement. I also got help when there was class material that I did not understand.
- I held on to my faith. As a Christian, I believe that God is there to guide and support me along the way. When I felt as if I could not make it, I leaned on him for strength and guidance.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share some of your life experiences with us Darnell, you are very much appreciated! The readers of this post will definitely be able to take the useful advice that you gave and apply it to their own lives! Best of luck to you as you continue on your journey in medicine!
Posted on November 24th, 2018