Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Name of Undergraduate Institution: The University of Miami
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Major: Psychology; Minor: Chemistry
Name of Medical School: Keck School of Medicine of USC
Favorite Quote: “Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou
Contact Info: Lrolle@usc.edu
LinkedIn – Lawrence Rolle
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I’m currently a 1st year student physician at Keck School of Medicine of USC. I’ve been planning on it nearly all of my life, and I’m blessed because it actually all came together. I figured being a physician would be the best possible way I could improve the lives of the most people possible while leaving a lasting impact on this world. I’ve realized that I’ve always strived to be a physician, not necessarily knowing if I was making the right choice or not. I can say there were plenty times where I was wondering if it were even possible, or if it was even for me. The good news is, it’s now the only thing that makes the most sense. I honestly feel like it’s a calling, and I’ve constantly been molded for it thus far in life. It’s starting to all make sense, and I’m just now getting in medical school smh. I subconsciously feel like I wanted to be a doctor when I was younger because I knew it would be very difficult and that there weren’t many black guys doing it. People don’t understand how powerful we are, and simply seeing people doing something helps make it seem more possible to achieve. I hope to inspire people who resemble me to dream big and achieve their goals, regardless of what their circumstances are.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell him?
I’d tell myself to keep doing what I’m doing and to remember to keep them grades up at all costs. There might’ve been a few times where I’ve struggled, but in the end I’ve learned from them and have only matured. I’d remind myself to keep having fun as long as everything else is going good. I feel like freshman year was my peak academically (unfortunately lol). I really just been fallin’ off since that year. I really knew/understood that I had something to prove, and I worked accordingly. I try to tap into my inner freshman year self now when I know I have a lot to do and have to be clutch. I’d definitely tell myself to be safe at the “I’m Shmacked” party and to actually make it to my first homecoming/FSU game at UMiami, because that would’ve been nice lol. Other than that, I think it’s important to understand that things won’t always go perfect, but it’s all about putting yourself in the position for things to go well. I was really good at that as a freshman and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
My advice would be to stick to it and stay strong as long as the dream is alive. As long as there is still a chance, and it is still possible to achieve your goal, then you should be happy at the opportunity and strive towards it. I remember I had my worst academic semester spring of my sophomore year, which included failing Calculus II. I can definitely say failure is the most humbling situation possible, but the failure isn’t so much what matters. It’s all about how you perform when things go wrong or aren’t well. It’s all about the response to anything that doesn’t go according to plan. If you can still possibly achieve a goal, even after any number of Ls, then keep at it. I ended up getting an A in Calculus II the next semester. There were a few times in my life where I thought I screwed up beyond repair and could never become a physician, yet as long as it’s still possible, I’m going to keep striving towards it. Also of note, a lot of stress will be decreased if you are diligent, aren’t a procrastinator, and can keep good grades. My last bit of advice would be to remember to enjoy the journey en route to the destination. We spend a lot of our time on the way to achieving our dreams and goals, so you might as well enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
This transition into my first year of medical school is what I imagine going from playing varsity basketball in high school straight to the NBA must feel like. I’ve definitely had some growing pains in this transitional period, and am definitely still trying to figure it all out. I got here and studied harder than I ever have in my life, put in more work than I could’ve even imagined myself doing, and still just barely failed the first systems exam a month into medical school. Long story short I’ll have to retake the exam after Winter Break, but here I am in medical school and I can’t even pass the first test. I got about a 67, but that’s not a pass lol. I’ve been battling internally on if I’m even ready to be in medical school, and constantly fearing that I’ll fail out. Luckily, I’ve failed before in my life and have been learning from every mistake. In an academically tumultuous sophomore spring semester, I learned my favorite (original) quote: “Sometimes you have to fail in order to remind yourself why you go through what you do to succeed.” I took the L from Keck gracefully, and worked even harder for this last test. I’ve reevaluated my work ethic, and just realized that I have everything to lose and simply have to put in more work. I was reinvigorated with a new fervor for my goals, and it may have possibly been exactly what I needed in this next leg of my journey. My support system is great, including my medical school classmates and faculty, and has invested and believed in me. Luckily I can report today that I got a smoove B on the FMS 2 exam, and I can officially tell you it’s possible to succeed in medical school. I finally feel confirmed that I belong to be where I’m at, and that’s always a good feeling. I still have to pass FMS 1 later this year, but the dream of practicing medicine is still alive so I can’t complain.
What is your favorite thing about your medical school?
I believe the best thing about the school is the supporting cast of my peers and the faculty. My class of 2020 is supposedly the most diverse class in Keck history, and I can honestly say I feel the love from everyone, all of which is reciprocated. The class is a great mixture of people with a myriad of characteristics and it directly assists us in our training as student physicians. Also the clinical experience that we’ve gotten since our first month here has been invaluable and I already can tell being in L.A. is perfect for many reasons.
Do you have another professional degree? If so, how has it impacted you?
Hoping to gain an MBA en route to graduation.
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to medical schools?
My advice would be to smash on the MCAT, and to turn in your application/secondaries as soon as possible. The earlier you are the better your chances are. They aren’t looking to hold seats in medical school, so the later you wait, the more people you’re competing with for a smaller availability of spots. Submit the primary application the first day it opens, and give yourself a schedule and system for completing secondary applications in a timely and efficient manner. I was told this nearly every day and still managed to submit my application and subsequent secondaries late. I’m 90% sure this directly impacted my options for medical school, but it honestly all still worked out.
Did you take some time off before medical school? If so, what did you do during that time?
I just graduated this May (2016), and did not take any time off before medical school.
Do you have any passions outside of school? If so, what are they?
I definitely have come to know that my passion lies in being around other people. It’s always good to give and be in the presence of love, and I try to maximize my time hanging out with people. I’m too social of a person for medical school to completely consume me and take my soul, so I definitely try and stay in the presence of others and go out and experience life.
What do you like to do for fun?
Spending time with friends, sports, partying.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of medical school? The easiest part?
Time management is definitely the most challenging aspect of medical school. In college it was definitely challenging, but the repercussions of not being able to manage time now have vastly increased. The information we’re receiving is definitely understandable, interesting, and digestible. The problem is it simply is a ridiculous amount of information that we’re responsible for, and if you don’t put in the time you will not succeed. If I can effectively manage my time, I understand that it’d essentially be me getting to a new level, and that’s the goal. The easiest part is that the material we’re learning now is directly relevant, and it’s a breath of fresh air from the pre-med struggle I experienced in college where I wasn’t interested in my classes, which were seemingly irrelevant for our future success as physicians.
What do you do to get through the stressful nature of medical school?
I feel it’s important to not lose yourself in the field of medicine. I’ve really enjoyed spending time with others and experiencing as much of life as possible. I’m still learning the level of balance, but I feel it’s key to being happy and healthy while in graduate school.
What extra-curricular activities are you involved in at your school?
I’m a part of this organization called Brothers Breaking B.R.E.A.D (Barriers, Regret, Ego, Animosity, Doubt), and it’s a group of black men of USC. It’s definitely empowering and refreshing to be surrounded by people who look like me with similar mindsets, and I’ve been helping to get the organization started as it’s the first year. I’m involved with a mentorship at a local magnet high school. We only visit once a month, but I’m excited to be involved with that. I’ve also been elected as a Student Representative on our 2020 Class Council and am looking forward to how this all goes for the year.
What is it like attending school in your city/town?
I live in NE L.A., which isn’t exactly the closest to a lot of stuff I’m familiar with, but I’m close to downtown L.A. The Health Sciences Campus is separate from the main USC campus which is on the south side, but I think it helps to avoid distractions. L.A. is cool because if you’re looking to have fun or to try something new, it’s almost always available. I don’t exactly have all of the time in the world, but it’s nice when I do have time to be able to easily go out and have fun.
What were some of your involvements in college? Have those involvements helped you in any way in medical school?
I was very involved in college including being on the executive board of our university’s student ambassadors, United Black Students organization, a peer-advising liaison in the psychology department, and president of an organization known as Brothers Overcoming Negativity & Destruction (B.O.N.D.) at The University of Miami. I can say without a doubt my involvements in college and the experiences they’ve provided are the biggest reason for me even being in medical school. They were instrumental in me actually getting accepted, but I draw from my life experiences every day to help me make the best decisions on the regular. They’ve helped me grow as a professional, gotten me out of my comfort zone, helped me grow as a person, and have exposed me to many different types of people and different experiences. My involvements have gotten me to the point where I feel like I’m comfortable and can excel in any environment. I would urge people to get involved in college with whatever you feel like you can truly support or enjoy. Being involved in an organization helps you to feel more connected and you gain more out of it. It definitely changed my life for the better.
Wow, this is some extraordinary insight bruh! We deeply appreciate you investing a large portion of your time in preparing these answers in order to help inspire the waves of future medical professionals coming after you! Thank you for thoroughly sharing some of your experiences Lawrence; people will definitely be remembering your wise words!
Posted on November 24th, 2016