Destination Excellence: I’m a First-Gen College Student Who Made It to Medical School
By Jade Overton, MS ’20
I still remember the moment when I told my parents that I had been accepted into medical school, and the look on their faces when I donned my white coat for the first time (albeit over Zoom). They were, and still are, so proud of me and made sure to remind me every chance they got. I remember the feeling of them believing in me and their support before I even began this journey.
I was so bright-eyed and excited the summer before MS1, and as orientation week loomed closer and emails began flooding in about policies and seminars coming up, I began to realize I had no idea of the amount of work that would be expected of me in my first year. And work it was. The saying “It’s like drinking from a fire hose” was no exaggeration. It felt like I could barely come up for air in between exams, and then being in the middle of a pandemic, too? It was nothing like I thought my first year would be, but then again who could’ve prepared for something like that? My first year passed in a blur, and I made it out alive. I learned so much along the way.
Now, as I’m entering my second month of MS2 and reflecting on my time here, already I can see clearly how much I’ve grown. The resilience I’ve shown, lessons I’ve learned, and highs and lows that I’ve experienced in this past year, which had its share of challenges, have only prepared me to better tackle the year ahead.
Being first-generation comes with its own set of challenges on top of striving to do well in medical school. Paperwork and processes seem so daunting when your parents haven’t seen them before or are unfamiliar with the system. Student loans seem unbearably impossible to pay off when your parents never had any. It’s a difficult experience, and yet it’s polished and challenged me along the way, and I know there is plenty more to confront ahead.
Even outside of paperwork and processes, it is not always easy to help my family understand that studying will very likely take all of my day, or to set boundaries that limit the times on weekends that I can see and visit with them. In fact, it rarely ever is easy, and it’s the sacrifice that I make often to continue to pursue the dream and passion I’ve worked so hard for.
One thing I’ve learned in my time here at Drexel is to not be afraid to ask for help. I don’t mind emailing my professors whenever I have a question or going to the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for advice on volunteering, shadowing or mentoring opportunities. Seeking knowledge and opportunities is how I got to where I am now, and I want to continue to ask for help all along the way, as well as be a resource for up-and-coming students who may have felt how I did entering first year and beyond.
Overall, I’m proud to be the first physician in my family, and when I graduate, I can say I have worked hard for it. Above all, my advice to others in my position, or anyone who resonates with my story, is to stay encouraged, keep working hard, ask for help, and whenever things get hard (which they inevitably will) remind yourself why you worked so hard to be here, and keep going.
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