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MD Program Meet Marc Andrew Hem Lee

Marc Andrew Hem Lee, Drexel MD Program Student


Hometown: Victoria County, Trinidad & Tobago; Brooklyn, New York
Undergraduate: Cornell University, BA in Theater
Graduate: East 15 Acting School, MFA in Acting; Relay Graduate School of Education, MA in 7-12 Chemistry Teaching and Curriculum Development; Drexel University College of Medicine, MS in Biomedical Studies, Class of 2018
Accepted Medical School: Drexel University College of Medicine, Class of 2022


Can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you came to Drexel?

I graduated from college and did an AmeriCorps year at the Fire Department in New York City (FDNY). I also did a regional tour of Romeo and Juliet, whose contract got me into the professional union for actors, the Actors Equity Association. After that, I went to acting school in London, and I spent a little time training in Moscow as well. When I came back to the United States, I moved to Los Angeles for a while to network with agents and casting directors. I then came back to New York where for two years I worked as a teaching fellow, teaching earth science by day and performing in professionally produced plays with my students by night. From there, I did a post-baccalaureate program here at Drexel, and then came to medical school.

When did you decide you wanted to study medicine?

I think for me it was more of an evolution in thinking. I don't know if I always knew I wanted to go into medicine, or even when there were times that I did know or times that I entertained the idea, I didn't really know how to make it happen.

In undergrad, I was at a very liberal arts focused college. Theater wasn't originally on my radar, but I decided to major in it after taking classes with professors I admired and continue to admire. I saw that it was very useful for me in terms of self-discovery, of grounding myself in my own identity. It helped me make sense of the world that I live in, based on the worlds that we create in theater.

I think that emphasis on curiosity is what I also see in medicine. Especially in that in medicine, we create safe, habitable spaces for our patients —"worlds" they can live and thrive in. Ultimately, that's what drew me to medicine. Once I had the "why," many things in my life gratefully fell into place to get me through the "how," and now I'm here today.

Other than the curiosity and creativity that you mention, do you find that your theater skills are helpful in training to be a doctor?

Definitely. I'm teaching a class this fall called Medical Theater through the Medical Humanities Scholar Track. It incorporates some elements of improvisation, but we will also work on movement and voice, key elements that are useful soft skills for student-physicians. Training my body and voice as well as my mind helps me to lead a balanced life as a medical student and future professional, and this perspective is something I hope to share with my students. Our final class will focus on how to have difficult conversations, whether that's with patients, superiors, or others who may or may not understand medicine.

It's important to me to continue to find ways to express the artistic side of myself, and the Medical Humanities Program has helped with that. During my first year, I took two electives through the program and plan to pursue the Scholar Track.

You mentioned that you did a post-baccalaureate program at Drexel. What was your experience like in the Master of Biomedical Studies (MBS) program?

It was definitely challenging, but I can see how it has helped me to acclimate to medical school. I learned what it really means to study science, having only partially had that experience as an undergraduate. I learned what it really means to take a volume of information and organize it. Like any educational experience, you have triumphs and you have some pitfalls. When something went awry, like if I did poorly on an exam, I learned to seek out the resources that are there to help.

How has your transition to medical school been?

I think the transition has been fine. There were several classmates in MBS who are now my classmates in medical school, so that's great in many ways, particularly in seeing that we can all succeed together. It's nice to be surrounded by people that you already know, as a base to continue building your community and network. We study together and hang out. It's great to have found a community within this larger class community that we have here at Drexel.

What is your relationship with the faculty like?

I find the faculty to be very open and accessible. I have reached out to many of them whenever I've had questions and they've always been available.

It's very interesting the way the curriculum is set up. You don't have much face time with professors—at least not in the traditional sense. They're not in the front of the room lecturing to us, but when we're in our smaller working groups, they are there at our side. It reinforces for me that they are on our side and want us to succeed.

Can you tell me about any extracurricular activities or volunteering you're involved with?

Apart from teaching the Medical Theater class, I'm co-Chair of the Pathology interest group this year. I am on the executive board of DrExcel Health, an interdisciplinary group that seeks to facilitate collaboration between students at the College of Medicine, College of Biomedical Engineering, College of Public Health and Close School of Entrepreneurship. I co-produce, and currently host a podcast for DrExcel Health, with Temi Daramola, who is a third-year medical student. Additionally, I'm on the executive board for DUCOM Classical, I'm the AAMC Organization of Student Representatives (OSR) member for DUCOM, and I sing in Thomas Jefferson University's choir, which is led by Drexel professor and chair of otolaryngology, Dr. Robert Sataloff.

Can you tell me more about the DrExcel podcast?

The podcast is called "Beyond the Bedside," and we explore the interdisciplinary nature of health. We recognize that the face of health care is changing. We examine how patient care is something that's taken from the bedside, researched and looked at from different perspectives to help people come up with solutions to not just improve the quality of care for patients, but to also give it a fresh perspective on how departments, or even professions within medicine can work together to achieve favorable patient outcomes.

What advice do you have for someone who is considering going to medical school?

I acknowledge that there's a lot of bravery in just applying, and for even taking that single step you should celebrate, regardless of outcome. You need to be kind to yourself during the application process and consistent with your story—there may be applicants who are similar to you, but owning your story, your personal journey, is what will set you apart in the eyes of the medical program that's meant for you.

I chose Drexel because I really felt at home here during my interview. My general sentiment for medical school entrance is to go where you believe you would feel most at home. As for students considering Drexel, it's important to know that what's special here is that we strive to be an integral part of the Greater Philadelphia community. That's something that is really impressed upon us from the first couple of months in the MD program. If you're interested in learning what it's like to build community as an advocate, as a necessary aggregate of an interprofessional team, then I would say come to Drexel.

Contact Information

Drexel University College of Medicine
Office of Admissions
60 N. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

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