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Biological Science Student (now Biomedical Studies) Kelsey Lau

Kelsey Lau, Biological Science (now Biomedical Studies), Masters Program


Hometown: Portland, OR
Drexel University College of Medicine Class: 2015
Undergraduate: University of Puget Sound


Why did you choose Drexel's Biological Science (now Biomedical Studies) program?

After a career-ending soccer injury in college changed the course of my career goals, I realized that I had a newfound passion for medicine. Once I completed my undergraduate degree, I worked in clinical research for a handful of years and eventually decided I wanted to become a physician. Since I'd been out of school for a number of years and needed to improve my GPA , I decided to apply to several master's programs. Although I had multiple acceptances, I chose Drexel because of its reputation and the connections that it has with certain medical schools. Obtaining a certain GPA and MCAT score could potentially qualify you to interview at their specified schools. Other schools did not provide that type of networking for pre-med students.

Were you able to take advantage of those connections?

Yes, definitely. In the end, I had eight interviews—three MD and five DO programs. I'm currently pursuing a DO degree at Western University of Health Sciences in Lebanon, Oregon, which is about 45 minutes away from where I grew up.

How did the program prepare you for the MCAT?

I thought Drexel did a great job providing all the resources. The MCAT teachers were smart, reliable and responsible. They were always willing to meet outside of class and go over the work with me when needed. I like being able to meet with someone and talk things out, which I was able to do at Drexel. I had taken the MCAT prior to attending Drexel and this MCAT class helped improve my score.

You said you eventually decided to be a physician while working in clinical research. How did you come to that decision?

I played a lot of sports growing up. I dreamed of playing professional soccer, but I suffered several injuries. Back surgery exposed me to medicine and the science aspect of it really fascinated me.

When I began doing clinical research, I started in stroke then moved to oncology and eventually orthopedics. When I worked in Seattle, I coordinated a phase one clinical trial and one of my patients had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). I developed a close relationship with him and was saddened that the phase one drug had failed to treat his disease. When I went to say goodbye to him before he flew home, he grabbed my hand as he sat in his hospital bed and said, "If you can't find a cure for me, find one for those who come after me." It was at that moment that I realized I wanted to pursue medical school.

So do you plan to go into oncology?

I'm back and forth between oncology and sports medicine. I love working with athletes, but that experience in oncology clinical research was so powerful. Those are the two specialties I'm considering at this point.

What kind of relationship did you have with your Drexel classmates and faculty?

I made some really great friends at Drexel. The first year was very team-oriented, and being able to work with others made the challenging coursework easier to learn. I was also able to find a great mentor in Dr. Jost, who I clicked with immediately. I felt comfortable talking with her if I was confused about something, even if it wasn't related to her class. She was always willing to help and was a great resource for me.

Being from Oregon, how was it adjusting to life in Philadelphia?

I'd never been to Philadelphia before. When I got accepted, I flew out in February before school started in August to see if I could do this for the next two years. Needless to say, I did and really enjoyed my time in Philly.

While a number of students lived in Stiles Hall, I lived on my own in an apartment in Center City. I was a little older and also like to study at home so living alone allowed me to do that.

The city offers a lot in terms of art, music or just going out and having fun. One thing I really miss about Philly is the food. I never went to a restaurant that wasn't absolutely fabulous. I loved Alma de Cuba and the Continental rooftop. I also did a lot of outdoor running along the river. It's a nice way to find peace in such a bustling city. I ran a half marathon and did various 5K and 10K charity events. Besides that, I studied a lot.

Did you get a chance to do any community service while you were here?

I did. I participated in "Back on My Feet" with St. John's Hospice. I would get up once a week at 5:30 a.m. and run with homeless people from the shelter. We usually ran anywhere from one to four miles. It was a way for them to build confidence and see themselves as people who can set and achieve a goal. It was a great experience for me.

Do you have any advice for current or potential students?

I believe that every situation is what you make of it. If you're willing to put in the time and the effort, this program will work for you like it did for me. There will always be challenges, but Drexel provides the resources to overcome those challenges. I met some really great people and worked with great mentors. By no means was this an easy two years. I worked incredibly hard and put in long hours, but I truly believe that I would not be in medical school now if it wasn't for this program.

Biomedical Studies program graduate students in the classroom at Drexel University College of Medicine.

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