Hometown: Ankara, Turkey/Los Angeles, California
Undergraduate: University of California, Irvine
Student's next step: Florida Atlantic University Medical School
Can you tell me a little about yourself, and what brought you to Drexel?
I moved to the U.S. from Turkey at 17 without speaking any English. I helped establish our family restaurant while trying to attend college, which impacted me academically in the first few years. Setting up a business on the other side of the world in a language my parents did not understand made me a businesswoman before becoming a good student. Without proper direction or guidance, it took me seven years to graduate from college. I was managing a business, majoring in biology, playing team sports, and volunteering here and there. I was becoming mentally strong enough to handle the workload of medicine while academically drifting from that goal.
Actually, coming to Drexel was the happiest random choice I have ever made! I was going through a special master's program list when I came across Drexel. I had no idea where the school was! So I randomly chose Drexel from the list I was given. Coming to Drexel was one of the best things that happened to me academically, and I would not change anything!
When did you know that you wanted to go into medicine?
I have been interested in improving health care and treatments since high school. Initially, I wanted to go into the academic route and get my PhD. As I worked in academia and a multinational pharmaceutical company, I have realized that I crave human interaction and still want to make an impact on health care, but with one patient at a time. This was when I realized I needed to get my priorities right and become a better student. I volunteered as a care extender at UCLA. I felt like I belonged there every time I stepped into the hospital. I guess I was fortunate enough to find my true calling. Even if I win millions of dollars from the lottery, I still want to become a doctor.
What was the best part of the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences program at Drexel?
The people! The premed environment is highly competitive and borderline toxic. IHS has been the opposite of that. We share every single opportunity with each other; we want to see each other succeed and wear that white coat as colleagues. In IHS, you are not your low GPA, grades, or scores; you are a future doctor/PA/dentist worthy of great opportunities and scores.
What was your relationship like with other students and faculty/staff in the program?
I have gained amazing friendships through this program. I have met resilient, strong, dedicated, compassionate and genuinely amazing people in this program. The faculty are always there to support you, and it is something I was not used to in my undergraduate institution. Everyone wants you to do well and they genuinely mean it. Dr. Gaurnier-Hausser will be there for you even after you graduate, be it giving a reference for a job or genuinely cheering for your success. Dr. Baird is the kindest soul I have ever met, who will teach you how to help the community even before becoming a doctor. Dr. Hurley will teach you physiology so well that everything will make sense, and medical school won’t be so scary after all. Matt will always have an open door for you and your silly questions without judgment. Tammy will make you more aware of people's silent struggles and make you more compassionate. Dr. Jost will make immunology and biochemistry more exciting and bearable. I can continue how exceptional the faculty and staff are forever! Our GSA presidents, Faith and Gaby, and other GSA members, did their best to help the Philadelphia community. The GSA organizes the Meet the Professors event, which brings faculty-student interactions to a more personal level and allows us to get to know each other better.
Did the program’s curriculum meet your personal needs?
Yes! I have already taken zillions of biology classes during undergrad, so retaking those classes did not really excite me. In IHS, you take graduate level courses ranging from biochemistry to forensic emergency medicine, graduate pharmacology and drug chemistry to medical toxicology, which grew my interest in medicine even more. I absolutely love the flexibility and choosing the classes that interest you. I was so glad that I didn't have to go through another round of physics; instead, I enjoyed classes such as Medical Toxicology and Forensic ER and Trauma. I became a better applicant with better stats, and a stronger and more well-rounded individual with lifelong friends I have gained along the way.
What organizations, extracurriculars, research or community service experiences have you been involved in at the College of Medicine? How have they impacted your experience here?
I was the PMPH Graduate Student Association secretary and involved in Doctors without Borders. With GSA, we organized talks with experts. I started volunteering for a local shelter, Our Brother’s Place, which was halted due to the pandemic. So I took this opportunity to address food insecurities when I moved back to Los Angeles. I used my family’s restaurant to distribute food to the homeless community in Downtown Los Angeles.
What have you been doing since graduating from Drexel?
I have been traveling as much as possible before things get chaotic again! I also continue managing my parents’ restaurant in Los Angeles and addressing food insecurities among the homeless residents of downtown LA. I have been working as clinical information manager at UCLA, where I scribe and audit attendings’ and residents’ charts to ensure they comply with specific requirements.
What advice do you have for students who are considering coming to Drexel’s IHS program?
This program is an excellent opportunity to improve y ourself academically and prepare for medical school. You are given excellent instructors. You are not just another student with an ID; you are valued here. You will be prepared for success.