Hometown: Clifton, New Jersey
Undergraduate: New Jersey Institute of Technology; BA in Biology
Medical School: Drexel University College of Medicine Class of 2021
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you came to Drexel?
I'm from Clifton, New Jersey where I went to Clifton High School. It had one of the largest class sizes in New Jersey with almost 800 students. Then I went to New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) for college. I was there for four years, and then I came directly from college to Drexel. At NJIT I did a lot of the typical premed things like volunteering and shadowing, but I also did other things. For example, I was involved with orientation for three years, and I worked as a barista at a café for a year. I did a lot of small things just to keep myself busy because I like being busy.
What made you apply to Drexel's medical school?
I really liked how it values diversity, because I came from a high school that was really diverse. I also came from a college that is one of the top ten most diverse colleges in the country. I like how Drexel has students from different age groups and different backgrounds, and they are from all over the country. Some of my friends came directly from college too. Others came from accelerated programs, and some took five gap years. It's really cool learning from people with different backgrounds, especially from the students who took gap years. Some of them have a lot more clinical experience than me. We have case-based learning where we are given a clinical scenario, and we have to pretend to be doctors to figure out what's wrong with a patient and give a diagnosis. It's cool hearing other students' perspectives, how they know what labs and tests need to be ordered already. I'm always asking a lot of questions and listening, to learn as much as I can from them.
I also liked how Drexel values early clinical exposure. I just finished my first year, and I already got to see patients a couple of times. I volunteered a lot at the student health clinics. That was a good way to practice what we learned in the classroom and apply it to real-life situations. As part of the curriculum, we often would go to the hospital. We would also go to other places, like a senior citizen living facility or to a facility where there were older adults who had chronic disabilities. It was really cool hearing their stories.
When did you know you wanted to become a doctor?
My mom is a nurse. When I was younger, we lived right across the street from the hospital. Often, I would accompany her to work where I got to see what she did. I really liked the hospital setting, and I think I always wanted to go into a health care field. Then during my senior year of high school, I started working at a doctor's office where I handled files. The doctor was really nice, and he let me shadow him a couple of times. It was great to see how the patients really valued his opinion and how he treated them as not just patients, but as actual people who he cared about and wanted to see get better.
Do you know what kind of medicine you'd like to specialize in?
I'm still exploring and trying to shadow a lot this summer, but right now I think I'm leaning toward primary care.
What is appealing about it to you about primary care?
Right now, I'm not interested in just one specific thing. I'm interested in everything. I also want to have patient interaction and to be able to say that I'm someone's doctor. For example, with anesthesia, they see one patient once and then that's it. I want to be able to have a relationship with patients over time and to see them get better.
How was your first year of the program?
It was hard for me to adjust. Some students adjusted faster than others, but for me, it took a while. I think I just didn't know how to study at first. At first, I wasn't doing very well, but there were a lot of resources that helped me finally learn how to succeed. I also found the tutors to be really helpful, especially for gross anatomy. I found that working in study groups with other students and seeing how they studied helped me a lot.
What is your relationship like with your fellow classmates?
It's good. I met a lot of students just from living in my apartment building since a lot of them live there too. I also made friends during orientation week and through a lot of the small groups that we have. I'm so thankful for these friends because I could not have survived my first year without them! It's great being part of such a supportive student body. We all try to help each other succeed.
What is your relationship like with the faculty?
The professors have been really helpful and were another resource for me when I was struggling. If I had a question, even on weekends, they would reply right away, which I really appreciated. They were always willing to meet with students outside of class hours. You could just walk in, sit down and talk for an hour. Even after our team-based learning \ classes, they would stick around for students who had questions. It's really nice and it shows that they actually care about us and want us to succeed.
Are you involved in any extracurricular activities, such as volunteering or clubs?
Last year I volunteered at John B. Kelly Elementary School, a public school in Germantown. We would go in for an hour at a time, and we would help the kindergarteners learn how to read and write. Additionally, I helped found DUCOM Stitches, a knit and crochet club where students can work on projects to donate to charity or simply create something for fun, and the Filipino American Medical Student Association. I'm also co-president of the Medicine-Pediatrics Interest Group and co-leader of the Admissions and Enrollment Steering Committee.
How is living in Philadelphia?
Most of the time, I'm pretty focused during the week, but sometimes if I have free time, I go to Center City, which is really accessible with the Drexel shuttle. My friends and I often go to Chinatown to eat since there's a lot of good food there. Lately, I've been going to Old City more often, exploring the tourist attractions and going by the water. I've visited the art museum, and I've run a 5K near there with some friends from school. I also really like Manayunk and Chestnut Hill, where I like to go to study. They have really nice cafes. I really like Philadelphia.
What advice do you have for someone who is considering coming to Drexel for medical school?
I think you will be successful if you are becoming a doctor for the right reasons. If you are only doing it because of the money, you're going to miserable in med school. It's really hard, and it can be overwhelming at times. There are a lot of moments where I would be extremely stressed and want to break down, but then I would remember why I was doing it, which is to help my future patients. I also think while you're here that it is important to take time for yourself, otherwise you can go crazy. I always set aside time to hang out with friends, eat without studying, work out and take care of myself.