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Evening Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program Meet Alexa Ariazi
PMED Program Class of 2020

Alexa Ariazi, Drexel Evening Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program

Hometown: Milford, Michigan
Undergraduate: BA, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
Student's next step: Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2025

Tell us a little about your background before you came to Drexel.

Before I came to Drexel, I was working in Detroit, Michigan, at a reproductive health clinic in the city. I had graduated from the University of Michigan three years prior, in 2015. I used those in-between years to travel and work in the public health and social service fields, which are other areas I’m passionate about. I was definitely doing a lot of soul-searching during this time, to determine whether or not medicine was the right path for me. I now hope to integrate what I learned doing this work into my future practice!

Why did you decide to enroll in a post-baccalaureate program? And why did you feel the Evening Pre-Medical Program (PMED) was a good fit for you?

I decided to enroll in a post-baccalaureate program largely because it had been a few years since I had taken any pre-medical courses, and I knew I needed to prove to admissions committees (and to myself as well) that I was capable of succeeding in them. Drexel was a good fit for me for three reasons. The first was that I knew I was going to need to work while completing the program, and Drexel’s PMED program is one of the few post-baccs that have evening classes, allowing you to work full time during the day. The second reason was that I was hoping to join a program where you could get to know the faculty and be in a smaller class size, which is the case with PMED. Third, most post-baccalaureate programs are divided into two categories: those for career-changers that have never taken any pre-medical courses, and those for students that have taken all of the pre-medical courses but need to boost their GPA. Since I had taken some of these courses in undergrad, but not all, I fell in between the requirements of many other programs. Overall, Drexel gave me the flexibility to do what I needed to do!

Since graduating from the PMED program, what did you do to continue building your medical school application?

Since graduating from the PMED program, I have continued to work at the job I started when I moved to Philadelphia to attend Drexel. I work at a nonprofit that supports medical students around the world in their efforts to learn about and increase access to comprehensive reproductive health services. Since I graduated from the program in the beginning of a pandemic, I’ve been unable to do the clinical shadowing and doula volunteering I had planned to do this year. Instead, I’ve been organizing virtual events for med students surrounding reproductive justice, and have begun training to volunteer as a remote contact tracer in my home state of Michigan.

What influenced you to want to become a doctor?

Medicine was always in the back of my mind as a potential career path, but when I entered college, I felt I needed a broader perspective on health and well-being before I could commit to the field. I studied global public health and feminist theory, and was involved in student organizing efforts surrounding social justice and health equity. When I graduated, I began working at a social service agency in Detroit that primarily served LGBTQ youth of color experiencing homelessness. It was in this position that I had the opportunity to work with the agency’s pediatrician. This physician was approachable and committed to providing inclusive, accessible care. She made every effort to support the patients she served inside and outside the clinic, and both I and the young people in the community loved her for it. I had been waiting my whole life to meet a doctor like her, to prove to me that it was possible to use medicine to not only heal individuals, but also to bring justice closer to reality for whole communities. At the same time, I found that my own role wasn’t going deep enough into the individualized care I wanted to provide. For example, I wanted to be able to provide hormonal therapy to our trans clients, not just coordinate retreats for them to learn more about it. It was this moment I finally knew for sure I needed to pursue medicine in order to serve communities in the most effective way I could.

What has allowed you to achieve your current accomplishments?

While I realize there is a long journey ahead, the encouragement from those closest to me has been one of the most instrumental things that has allowed me to achieve what I have thus far. When I doubted my own abilities, I would remember the words of others confirming that they too saw my future as a physician. I would also remember my “why,” the people that have had poor experiences seeking health care, or those that don’t have adequate access to the care they want and need. I would remember that I’m doing this to help give these folks the care they deserve.

Moreover, the support and guidance of my professors at Drexel, as well as those in undergrad (especially if I struggled in their course), have allowed me to gain the skills I needed to complete this program. I think it’s important to remember that, even when it feels like you’re in it alone, no one accomplishes anything without the help of others.

What advice would you give to current and future PMED students?

The advice I would give current and future students is to use this program as an opportunity to learn how to study efficiently. This isn’t a skill everyone develops in undergrad, but it is one that you’ll need to succeed in this program while working full time, and later in medical school. You should also get to know your classmates! You’ll be spending a lot of time with them, and it’s great when you can be each other’s support system. Lastly, for those that are moving to Philly to participate in PMED, it’s a great city! Spend as much time as you can getting to know it and its people.