Hometown: I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, but I grew up mostly in Pennsylvania.
Name of Undergraduate Institution: Millersville University of Pennsylvania
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: B.S. Biology
Name of Medical School: Morehouse School of Medicine, Class of 2023
Favorite Quote: “We are not where we want to be, but we are not where we once were.” – RJMrLA, “Momma’s Blessing”, OMMIO III
Contact Info: Email: 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 living my best life as a first year medical student at Morehouse School of Medicine. I would say I decided to go into medicine twice. The first time around was during my senior year of high school. Then, my decision was uninformed and unduly swayed by the thought of prestige, money, status, the two-tone Rolex watch, and conspicuous Black Range Rover. I would say I really decided to go into medicine; however, during my junior year of college. This time around, my decision was much more informed as I experienced what I like to describe to others as the saving grace of medicine. It was during this time that I was diagnosed with glaucoma, and this was when I viewed medicine as an opportunity to give others a second chance at life. Without medicine, I will surely be on my way to blindness, with unmanaged intraocular pressure and dying optic nerves. With medicine, however, I have a fighting chance. This is what I mean by the saving grace of medicine. At any rate, my diagnosis fueled my decision for me to dedicate the rest of my life as a physician giving others a fighting chance as well.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell him?
There are several things I would tell young Jason. First, I would tell young Jason that it’s ok to be you. Oftentimes, I thought that I had to significantly change who I was entirely in this journey to become a physician. For this reason, I felt inadequate or that I didn’t fit the mold for what should constitute a premed student. Essentially, I had my bouts with imposter syndrome here and there. But now, I’ve come to realize that each of our circumstances in life are different, and I am very much a product of them. Next, while saying it’s ok to be you, I would also tell young Jason that it’s also essential to partake in activities and cultivate traits to enhance myself as an individual. Knowing what I know now, reading, listening to informative podcasts, and time management would have taken me a long way. Lastly, I would tell young Jason to sit down and be humble. The world is a very small place. For this reason, it is essential to treat everyone that you meet with respect and dignity.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
If you want to become a physician, it first starts with mentality. You have to make a covenant with yourself that you are going to become a physician and be stubborn in this regard. Stubborn in the face of challenging classes. Stubborn in the face of useless classes that you are required to take but have no interest in. Stubborn in the face of bad test scores. Stubborn in the face of others criticizing your decision to study, rather than hang out. Stubborn in the face of things not going as planned. Stubborn in the face of others mocking your decision to pursue medicine entirely. If you put in your head that you’re going to be a physician, and you are unyielding with this mentality, everything else will naturally align. That’s the power of the law of attraction.
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
The biggest challenge I have had to overcome was really dealing with how to study efficiently. When I first started undergrad, I relied on memory to get me through classes. But soon after, I realized that memory can only take you so far. I overcame this by actively trying to figure out certain things I could do differently to improve my test scores. And once again being stubborn in the fact that I understand that life goes on after a bad grade—the next exam will be an opportunity to improve. Period. It has definitely taken time, but I am really starting to align the way that I study with how we learn as human beings. Shout out to Dr. Nanette Vega and Dr. Adrian Reynolds from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine for putting me on game with the science of learning!
What is your favorite thing about your medical school?
My favorite thing about Morehouse School of Medicine is the atmosphere here. It is extremely familial, and I feel just right at home. I remember how one time, I met with a financial aid advisor, and the conversation with her eventually turned into her recommending some doctors for me to see in the Atlanta area for my glaucoma. This, I feel does not happen everywhere. Also experienced with this atmosphere is the potency of black leadership. It’s really amazing to be in a setting with so many black scientists and physicians. Game shakers and thought provokers! My time here has properly taught me how to dream because I see people that look like me doing amazing things with their lives. With time, I will be just as successful as well.
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to medical schools?
First of all, realize that all you need is one yes! I received a lot of no’s before getting that one yes. You have to trust and believe. Next, make use of all the resources that you can. My motto is free before fee. There are programs out there that greatly assist with financing the process of preparing for the MCAT and paying for the application process. The Fee Assistance Program by the AAMC is one example, for instance. Next, I would advocate for you to be selfish. This is your life and you have to make the best decision for you. Finally, understand that saying thank you to your advocates really goes a long way.
Did you take some time off before medical school? If so, what did you do during that time?
I absolutely took some time off before medical school and I served as a student success coach for City Year Miami, an AmeriCorps program. My position mostly involved me assisting in an underperforming middle school in the Miami-Dade County Public School District by means of providing tutoring services. I usually refer to this experience as an apprenticeship for life because I learned so much pertaining to life that I could not have learned in undergrad. This was a monumental period in life when I had to transition from moving out of state to Florida, adjust to a work environment in education, and learn how to utilize governmental assistance programs, all the while still trying to figure out if I will make it to medical school! In all, I learned many critical lessons from the experience that I still apply to life till this day.
Do you have any passions outside of school? If so, what are they?
I like to reflect on a weekly basis about my systems and how to improve them. These systems pertain to the way I study, how I manage money, and things that I can start to do to enhance myself as an individual. Summarily, I’m passionate about introspection, commitment, and self-improvement.
What do you like to do for fun?
I definitely like to listen to podcasts and journal. I find that a great portion of life is determined by perspective, and those two aforementioned activities continuously help me acquire perspective and shape it thereafter. I also like to dabble in event photography every now and then. Now in medical school, I like to enjoy the presence of people and experiences because time is especially of the essence. Finally, I read on a consistent basis! Since August 2019, I’ve made a commitment to leisurely read for at least 20 minutes a day, and I’ve never faulted on this covenant. I’m now on my 7th book, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, since the start of medical school!
What do you feel is the most challenging part of medical school? The easiest part?
In my experience, the most challenging part of medical school has been seeing my exam results betray the efforts that I put in. And in saying this, I’ve now realized that hard work alone does not guarantee success in medical school. Hard work is the prerequisite. Finesse, application, and strategy are the elevators. And it is only through time, experiences, humility, and perseverance that these skills are learned and mastered. Now in terms of the easiest part of medical school? Sheeesh! Definitely the intellectual stimulation of the material. A great deal of the material is very practical and applicable to everyday life. For instance, you might see someone smoking on the street and then start to think about emphysema and how smoking promotes the recruitment of neutrophils to the lungs, which will lead to degradation of elastin in lungs because neutrophils contain a large amount of elastase. All that from literally looking at an individual on the street and remembering what you learned in lecture. I find that in medical school, a lot of individuals are actually motivated to learn the material.
How have you been able to deal with your romantic relationship and medical school at the same time?
It definitely helps that my girlfriend, also a first year medical student, is enduring this journey with me as well. For this reason, we understand each other to a great extent. To maintain the relationship, my shordie and I are huge on transparency. We also like to plan in order to be as strategic as possible during crunch time. School still comes first for both of us. We both being morning people, we get up early to get work done and then use the night to explore these Atlanta streets, or just Netflix, if afforded the opportunity. Lastly, we do a great job of being completely present in the moment, because time is really of the essence.
In regards to dating, what kind of qualities are you looking for in someone?
My girlfriend has a lot of the qualities that I look for in a partner, so I’ll just talk about her then. First, and most importantly, we are compatible. I truly believe that compatibility is one of the most fundamental aspects of a relationship. Next, she’s disciplined (like her man, of course). She’s resilient and she also has an open mind and is willing to work on constructive feedback. Her actions speak louder than her words. She has a great sense of humor. She knows how to effectively distinguish between work and play time. She is very generous, and extremely patient. She knows how to walk into a room and make people understand that they matter. She’s extremely transparent. She enhances me and makes me want to better myself. Finally, she’s one of a kind.
What did you do during the summer before you started medical school?
The summer before medical school was spent quickly transitioning from my gap year program to Atlanta! To be honest, I did not have much of a summer before medical school, since we started classes at the beginning of July.
What do you do to get through the stressful nature of medical school?
To get through the stressful nature of medical school, I do things that I’m reluctant to do, but I know are important for me to do. By this, I mean I try to workout at least 4 times a week. I also force myself to take cold showers because they reinforce my sense of discipline, which is essential for me to study even though I do not necessarily feel like it. Listening to podcasts on a daily basis and maintaining a weekly journal allows me to realize that this time period is just relative. Moreover, podcasts and journaling help me remember there’s life outside of medical school. My roommate is great, and so is my girl. Talking to family and friends is also helpful as well. I even talk to myself too! When particularly stressed, I take out my phone and pull up the voice memos app and just talk out all the things I perceive as causing me to stress. Staying prayed up is also really helpful. Most importantly, each night before I sleep, I make sure to write down on paper at least three things that made me happy during that day. This keeps the good vibes flowing. In the end, I always remember that stress is part of the process. What defines me is my response to it.
What extra-curricular activities are you involved in at your school?
I’m in some interest groups here and there, but I’m not fully committed to any activities. I anticipate more involvement when I perfect a study system that yields consistent results.
What is it like attending school in your city?
Atlanta is a great city to attend school. The black excellence here is just truly amazing. In this environment, one has no option but to dream and strive for success. Like for instance, homecoming was just a few weeks ago, and I’ll never forget how it made me feel to see a young black man casually parallel park his Bentley truck and then walk to AUC to partake in the festivities. That’s power, and that does something to the psyche, yo! This is the most empowered I’ve been yet in life. The history here in Atlanta is rich as well, and I’m slowly uncovering it. Diversity is equally amazing. MSM is great at immersing their students in the community, so I’ll have to say that attending school in this city also has me thinking more and more about the social determinants of health for individuals. Being percipient to such factors will distinguish me and my fellow classmates during practice.
What were some of your involvements in college? Have those involvements helped you in any way in medical school?
I’ll talk about the most impactful involvements! The most critical involvement that I partook in during undergrad was being selected as a participant for the 2016 Minority Students in Health Careers Summer Motivation Program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Being that I gained so much exposure, that program literally changed my life. It gave me an opportunity to assess things in my life that I could improve, such as studying and networking skills. By far, the most important lesson I learned in that program was that we should work to be competitive as premeds applying to medical school, but this does not mean that we have to compete against each other as premeds. Go alone, and you go fast. Go together, and you go far. I owe a lot of my success, as well as my left kidney, to the folks that believed in me from the Motivation program.
Alike, being selected as a participant in the 2017 Medical and Dental Preparatory Program at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine was important as well. I am a huge proponent of pipeline programs for minority students because they work. I am living proof!!! Leadership programs in undergrad also informed me a lot about myself as a leader. I learned how to connect with individuals through being an orientation leader. And I also learned how to conduct myself in an authority position by serving as lead mentor for a Biology mentor program for minority students at my institution. These activities combined helped shape the individual I have become and not only how I navigate medical school, but also the world beyond it.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Favorite books? Shows? Movies?
My favorite musician is the living legend Radric Davis, popularly known as Gucci Mane. He’s such a testament to the concept of self improvement. I also like a lot of SoundCloud rappers who rap about topics that would quickly land someone in the emergency room, or a lifelong regimen of Dialysis. Maybe even both. My favorite book is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. The book talks extensively about habit building and the power of consistency. Nevertheless, the book got me through a season of my life when I struggled with impostor syndrome, and had great difficulty in following through with promises made to myself. In many ways, the book laid out a blueprint for success. Your boy is kind of cheap, so I don’t watch much shows or movies. I do, however, enjoy several podcasts with hosts from various walks of life. Some that come to mind are Democracy Now!, Trappin’ Anonymous, The No Jumper Podcast, Docs Outside the Box, The Roommates Podcast, The Breakfast Club, and This Meharrian Life.
Wow Jason, this is such a wealth of incredible information! Thank you for being so authentic and thorough with your spotlight answers! I had a blast reading your motivating story and words of wisdom. I’m certain that your words will help inspire those who read this spotlight! You are definitely wise beyond your years and I’m eager to continue watching you grow into an amazing physician-leader! Keep on powering through your studies and enjoying your growth!
Posted on November 25th, 2019