Hometown: Decatur, Ga
Name of Undergraduate Institution(s): Benedict College, Valdosta State University
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Major: Biology; Minor: Chemistry
Name of Medical School(s):
Meharry Medical College for MSc in Biomedical Research (2014)
Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
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 a 3rd year medical student on the path to becoming an orthopedic oncologist. I have always loved science since I was kid and knew that I wanted work in a scientific field for my career at an early age. However, my interest became focused on medicine after taking an anatomy course in high school. Also, after witnessing my grandmothers endure the struggles of cancer, I realized that I wanted to help those suffering from disease.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell him?
I would tell my naïve college self to always make school and my goal of being a doctor my #1 priority. There were several mistakes that I have made in college that could have jeopardized my chances of reaching my goal such as working a full time job while being heavily involved my fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, and other organizations such as Campus Activity Board and Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Professional Society. I stretched myself thin during a vital time of my college tenure leading to me obtaining 3 Cs in a semester. 2 of these courses were medical school prerequisites: Physics and Organic Chemistry.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
My advice would be to find your strengths and exploit them for your benefit, but more importantly find out your weakness and work on that weakness twice as hard so it will not be your limiting factor. Also, I would advocate that persistence is vital in the path to medicine. Not all are fortunate enough to have a great GPA, stellar MCAT scores, and 1st time acceptance into medical school. You can come up short sometimes and feel inadequate but great things come to those who wait for their time.
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
The major challenge I had to overcome was the notion of not being smart enough to be accepted into medical school. My 1st MCAT score greatly discouraged me from trying again but due to interactions with medical students along with encouragement from family and friends, I was able to find the confidence to try again. I took a very different approach to my MCAT studies the 2nd time around including using a review course (Princeton Review), more practice tests, more study hours, and elimination of distractions.
What is your favorite thing about your medical school?
My favorite thing about medical school is that I genuinely enjoy what I am learning. All throughout grade school, college, and even graduate school there were only a few classes that I enjoyed but in medical school I learn so much interesting information everyday not only in classroom lectures but also from lab, group discussions, and patient encounters.
Do you have another professional degree? If so, how has it impacted you?
Yes, I have a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Research with a concentration in Microbiology & Immunology from Meharry Medical College. My graduate degree gave me an upper hand in the first 2 years medical school especially in biochemistry, cell biology, oncology and immunology. A good amount of the information I learned in graduate school was taught in more depth, which allowed me to have a good understanding of the material and to remember it well. Also, working in research has taught me to think outside the box and be a problem solver, which can be applied to clinical medicine. Lastly, my degree in biomedical research has inspired me to continue research in the future. I believe it is not only my duty to practice medicine but also to push it forward.
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to medical schools?
I would advise to save as much money as possible before applying because the application process is expensive. MCAT study materials, test fees, application fees, travel, and hotels add up to a large amount. Also, I would advise to begin early with requesting recommendations because this is often a lengthy process and requires persistence.
Did you take some time off before medical school? If so, what did you do during that time?
Yes, I took 3 years off before I began medical school. I decided to take a year off after graduation to study for the MCAT and to work in order to save up for the application process. However, I took a completely wrong approach of preparation for the MCAT. I scored well below the minimum score for acceptance to any medical school. This completely discouraged me from attending medical school so I decided pursue my back up plan: research. I took the GRE and applied to the only 2 schools that were still accepting applications for the 2012 school year: Morehouse and Meharry. I was accepted in Meharry Medical College’s Biomedical Research PhD program. While at Meharry I enjoyed learning about and conducting research in Cancer Immunology. However, I realized that I was not satisfied with what I was doing and could not see myself solely doing research as a career. After encouragement from friends in medical school at Meharry, I decided to retake the MCAT after my 1st year of graduate school. By using a different approach and committing more hours to study I was able to increase my MCAT score 10 points. With this improvement I requested to join the MD/PhD program at Meharry but I was denied the opportunity initially. Therefore, I applied in secrecy and was accepted to into medical school. I announced my decision to leave graduate school soon after and with support of my research mentor and labmates, I completed enough research in my remaining time to complete a master’s thesis.
Do you have any passions outside of school? If so, what are they?
I have a passion for mentoring young men. There is an obvious deficit in how many young African-American men are pursing professional careers compared to other demographics. I believe one of my purposes is to help close that gap.
What do you like to do for fun?
My idea of fun usually includes a Sunday afternoon at the movies or watching baseball/football on a Saturday. I also enjoy working out, playing intramural softball, playing poker with friends, and traveling.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of medical school? The easiest part?
The most challenging part of medical school is constantly putting in the amount of time that is needed to excel. Honestly, I found graduate school to be more challenging due the more complex concepts I had to grasp and apply. Medical school on the other hand, is challenging because of the amount of information you have to digest and this takes a large amount of time. Sacrificing weekends, time with friends, and other things you like to do becomes difficult but it is part of being in medical school. The easiest part of medical school is that there are so many resources available to you to learn. You can tailor your learning to how it best fits you.
How have you been able to deal with your romantic relationship and medical school at the same time?
I was able to maintain a healthy long distance relationship during my 2nd year of medical school. Although we lived 2 hours away from each other, it worked well because we able to see each other almost every 2 weeks. She was able to visit me more often because of her flexible schedule but I made efforts to travel also, especially after big exams. However, relocation for her job and increased job demands in combination with away rotations, long hours, and busy weekends of my 3rd year of medical school has made things more difficult so I have put that aspect of my life on hold.
In regards to dating, what kind of qualities are you looking for in someone?
The qualities I look for in a woman are natural beauty, compassion, ambition, higher education, a fun/outgoing personality, and strong family values. Most importantly, she must be understanding and supportive of my goals.
What did you do during the summer before you started medical school?
The summer before starting medical school I was diligently working on my thesis so I could obtain a terminal master’s degree. I spent a lot of hours finishing experiments and writing because I wanted to have some meaning to the 2 years I spent in graduate school. I defended my thesis on July 24th and moved to Augusta, Ga on July 28th, the weekend before I began medical school.
What do you do to get through the stressful nature of medical school?
I have become accustomed to the stressful nature of medical school and may actually function better with the stressful atmosphere because I have the tendency to slack with no stress. There is always something that I should be studying or doing but there are only so many hours in a day. I have just learned to power through it because I have my end goal in mind. However, there are times where I do get too overwhelmed and powering through it becomes almost pointless. At that point, I just stop to take a nap or go do something that I enjoy such as watching a movie. This allows me to calm down, reset, and continue to work through it.
What extra-curricular activities are you involved in at your school?
I am involved with the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), where I served as MCG chapter president previously and Region IV Parliamentarian currently. SNMA has been a great avenue for mentorship, community service, leadership building, and networking. I also have served as a small group tutor for histology/pathology, participated in research projects involving cancer immunotherapy and orthopedics, and played intramural softball in the spring.
What is it like attending school in your city/town?
Attending medical school in Augusta is not much different than attending school in most other smaller towns. Augusta is a place that has everything you need but may not have the most things to do. However, my classmates and I always find a way to have fun here. Augusta is a medical town with 7 hospitals in the area so there are many medical professionals in the community.
What were some of your involvements in college? Have those involvements helped you in any way in medical school?
I played college baseball at Benedict College my freshman year in college. I joined the Lambda Phi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. at VSU and served as Vice-Polemarch. I also participated in the Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Professional Society and the Campus Activity Board. My extracurricular experiences have helped improve my time management skills, which have been very helpful in medical school especially with dealing the difficulties of balancing studies with long hours in the clinics/hospital.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Favorite books? Shows? Movies?
My music interests mainly include Rap and R&B with some of my favorite artists being Big K.R.I.T., Cyhi the Prynce, Childish Gambino, and Outkast. However, I do enjoy other genres such as Rock and Jazz. I particularly enjoy seeing live music, which was one of the best parts of Nashville when I lived there during graduate school.
I have not had the chance to read as much in the past few years because of my constant studies, but the Harry Potter series may forever be my favorite books.
My favorite show is definitely Game of Thrones, but I have also taken a liking to the new shows Atlanta and Luke Cage.
For movies, it is difficult to pick favorites because I like so many of them but I do enjoy movies that have good action and require some deep thought such as Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Interstellar.
This is real dope Thomas!!! You gave us so much information to work with, and we greatly appreciate you for taking the time to do so! Your words will definitely work to motivate those who are reading this spotlight feature! Thanks again bruh!
Posted on December 8th, 2016