As December graduation creeps around the corner, seniors reflect on their college careers and the process of applying to medical school.
Meghna Thomas, a senior psychology major, said she always knew she wanted to “help others within the scope of their lifelong wellbeing.”
“[Medicine] captures all my aspirations wholeheartedly,” Thomas said. “I love people and want to dedicate my life to serving them. I’m intrigued by the intersection between mental, emotional and physiological wellbeing through the interdisciplinary lens that medicine offers.”
Thomas said she has always been interested in a medical program that centers on “prioritizing chronically overlooked and underserved communities in healthcare.”
“Sitting with patients by the bedside as a hospital volunteer is different than sitting by your desk reading a textbook,” Thomas said. “It casts healthcare in a new light and it materializes everything I’m passionate about addressing in medicine.”
Thomas said she is hoping to begin medical school soon but in the meantime, she will continue to serve in the hospital setting as a patient care technician or medical assistant.
“I’m also eager to continue furthering my research on therapeutic insights to treating neurodegenerative disorders and substance abuse at Seton Hall’s Institute of Neuroimmune Pharmacology,” Thomas said.
Thomas said her biggest advice to herself would be to not underestimate her own abilities.
“I went into my freshman year with the misconception that I’m not a STEM student, I’m not scientific, I can’t be a doctor because I’m struggling to tackle this one chemistry problem,” Thomas said.
Thomas said for students on the pre-med track, she recommends taking it slow and appreciating the process.
“Take time to breathe in between and realize that you can do anything that you put your mind to,” Thomas said. “Don’t let anyone step on your dreams. Trust in your incredible abilities along the way.”
Thomas said patience is key to achieving desired goals as a pre-med student.
“Medicine doesn’t discriminate – if it’s sincerely your passion, you can make your dreams a reality,” Thomas said. “Everyone has their own timeline, everyone is human and we’re constantly learning.”
Zoe Raste, a senior biology major, said she has been accepted to Rutgers Medical School and is both excited and nervous about “matriculating immediately after college.”
“I am graduating early though and I’m going to use the time between undergrad and med school to gain more experiences both as a future med student and as a person,” Raste said.
Raste said she originally wanted to go into medicine because of her family’s experience with doctors.
“When I was young, my family was very distrusting of modern medicine, which led me to have strong ‘white coat syndrome,’” Raste said. “However, one day, I got a new pediatrician. Her ability to just create a space of comfort and safety really helped put me at ease.”
Raste said when applying to medical school, she was drawn to community involvement.
“I really love giving back to my community and building relationships with people,” Raste said.
Raste said while medicine is “awesome and super interesting, it’s also important to have other passions and hobbies.”
“When I’m stressed, falling back on hobbies like cooking…or fun Pinterest art projects helps me unwind…and gives me a break,” Raste said.
Raste said if she could change one thing from her past, she would be kinder to herself.
“I’ve seen many people build up very impressive resumes but really sacrifice their mental health in the process, and I’ve done the same myself,” Raste said. “It’s easy to get swept up in the requirements…I forget why I’m here in the first place.”
Amelia Fan, a senior biology major, said she gained an interest in medicine from watching her parents work as doctors while Fan was growing up.
“Since then, I have always had an interest in medicine and I started finding opportunities to experience what medicine was about for myself, finding a love for treating injuries,” Fan said.
As she waits to hear back from medical schools, Fan said she continues to keep busy.
“In the meantime, I hope to continue improving and learning about myself,” Fan said. “With this being my last semester, I really hope to make the most of my time both in class and with the amazing friends I have met.”
Fan said she factored in the distance from her family when applying to medical school.
“As each of my siblings grow older, it becomes harder and harder to find time to all be together outside of major holidays,” Fan said. “Many of the schools that I applied to are within the tri-state or on the east coast.”
Fan said she recommends that students explore their interests aside from medicine.
“Not only is it important to see if medicine is right for you, but it is also important to see what about medicine attracts you,” Fan said. “I would encourage you to get involved in opportunities and experiences that can expose you to the medical world, whether that be volunteering, shadowing or participating in blood drives.”
Fan said as a freshman, she wished she had a better balance between classes and her mental health.
“It is important to keep up with classwork, but it is just as important to take care of yourself,” Fan said. “They go hand in hand with each other. As much as college is a time for preparation, it is also a time to explore and learn more about yourself.”
Kimberly Fallas can be reached at email@example.com