Hometown: Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate: University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, BS in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Spanish
Medical School: Drexel University College of Medicine Class of 2020
Can you tell me a little about yourself before you came to Drexel?
I grew up in a small town and ended up living at home during undergrad since I lived only 20 minutes from campus. This was not what I had planned or hoped to do, but I was offered a full scholarship to commute to the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and I could not pass up the opportunity to finish undergrad debt-free. In the end, it actually worked out extremely well because anyone that knows me knows how obsessed I am with my dog Gertie, so I was able to live with her for four more years! Leaving her with my parents to come to medical school made me really appreciate living at home during undergrad. I am a first generation college graduate, and no one in my immediate or extended family is a doctor, so going to medical school was a really huge deal for my family. It is great to have so much support.
When did you know that you wanted to become a doctor?
I knew I wanted to go to medical school since my junior year of high school when my grandfather was diagnosed with late stage colon cancer. During that period I witnessed firsthand how physicians can impact not only their patients’ lives, but the lives of entire families as well. Because of his outstanding physicians, my family and I gained what turned out to be about 4 more months with my grandfather. In hindsight, I realized how precious those 4 months were to me, and I knew from that time on that I wanted to work in a profession where I could have the opportunity to give that same gift to other patients and families.
Do you know what kind of medicine you’d like to specialize in?
I just began my third year of school, so I am trying to keep an open mind about each rotation. However, I think I am most excited about my pediatrics rotation because I love kids and working with them can really brighten up my day. I am excited to see how I feel after I have completed my pediatrics rotation and third year in general.
Why did you choose to apply to Drexel’s medical school?
When I was deciding which medical school I was going to attend, one of the main reasons I chose Drexel was the diversity it offered. Drexel is known for having an extremely diverse class each year, and having grown up in a suburban mostly-white community, I thought this would be a great change. I also thought being in Philadelphia would expose me to all types of patient populations so I could get experience working with patients from every possible background. After two years here, I definitely think this has held true.
How has the program been going so far?
Medical school is probably the most challenging thing I have experienced in my life thus far. That being said, you have to continually keep a positive outlook and know that all of the hours spent studying will one day pay off. My second year of medical school, however, was particularly challenging. One of my close family members had been battling cancer throughout 2017 and I spent much of the school year traveling on the weekends to visit them. Unfortunately they lost their battle in January 2018, and I had to postpone my upcoming exams to attend the funeral. Just under a month after that, my great-grandfather passed away unexpectedly and I, again, had to postpone another set of exams. Throughout all of this, the professors at Drexel were so understanding and gave me all the time I needed to catch up on the material. Some of them even called to check in on me a few times. Their support really made it a lot less stressful and allowed me to focus on family instead of school.
What is your relationship like with the faculty?
The professors have always been extremely approachable and you can really tell that they genuinely care about your learning. I have never been intimidated about asking questions or seeking extra help.
What is your relationship like with your fellow classmates?
My classmates are really the only ones who can truly understand what I am going through and how I am feeling after a day of sitting inside and studying for 10 hours, so having friends to lean on has really made the experience less stressful and more fun.
Are you involved in any extracurricular activities, such as volunteering or clubs?
At the end of my first year, I became a scribe for one of the Health Outreach Project (HOP) clinics called Streetside. This clinic is based in Kensington, which is known for extreme poverty and drug use. Streetside helps to give medical care to IV drug users, sex workers, the homeless and other at-risk populations in a non-judgmental and harm-reducing environment. I felt passionately about their cause since I have had a family member struggle with drug addiction. In addition to medical care, there was also a needle exchange program where people could exchange used needles for new ones. This program is critical in preventing individuals from contracting infections through sharing needles. We also provided Narcan training to anybody who wanted it so that they would be able to revive someone who overdoses and hopefully save a life. I absolutely loved working in the clinic, the patients were so thankful for the medical care, and it felt good to provide them with a safe place to come and receive the care they deserve.
What have your clinical rotations been like?
I am currently on the fourth week of my first rotation, OB/GYN. The hours are very long on this rotation, but you really do learn a great deal each day. All of the residents and attendings that I have interacted with thus far have been extremely patient and kind, which is very encouraging.
How is living in Philadelphia?
Living in Philly is fun for this period of my life. There is always something to do and great food to try! However, I do not see myself staying in a big city like this in the future. I think I would like to go back to living in a smaller town once my schooling and training is over.
What advice do you have for someone who is considering coming to Drexel for medical school?
I think the biggest aspect to consider is living in Philadelphia. If you think you can be happy living in a big city for four years, then Drexel would be a great choice. I have absolutely no regrets about choosing Drexel, and it has undoubtedly given me the experiences and exposure I had hoped for in medical school.