This section will spotlight a student who has come through the Health Professions Advising office at CSUF on their journey to professional school, and wishes to share his or her experiences and advice with current and future students.
Frank Ospino - Future Physician
I was born and raised in Orange County. I grew up in Costa Mesa to a large Nicaraguan family with lots of love and support. We moved to Santa Ana where I attended and graduated from Mater Dei High School. I excelled academically and upon graduation attended Johns Hopkins University with the intention of studying Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering on a pre-medical track. Unfortunate circumstances unforeseeably brought me back to California where I had to restart my academic track after two years of studying. I enrolled in community college until I earned enough credit for transfer to Cal State Fullerton.
My experience at CSUF was one of tremendous growth and achievement. Firstly, the academic faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences was enormously helpful in providing me support during my time at Cal State Fullerton. They were informal mentors who truly want to see you succeed and who can offer great advice. Seek their mentorship! Secondly, I took full advantage of the great programs that the Department of Biological Sciences has to offer such the Research Career Preparatory (RCP) Program and the Bridges to Stem Cell Research (BSCR) Program. The RCP Program, which is directed by one of my mentors in Dr. Math Cuajungco, is a great introduction into basic research and also guarantees you placement into a laboratory. If you are looking for a foot in the door, try applying for the RCP Program and you will be rewarded with a worthwhile and enriching experience. The BSCR Program was a challenging yet fulfilling experience. Directed by Dr. Nilay Patel, the program is aimed at giving you graduate-level research training within a 14 month period. My experience took me to Stanford University School of Medicine where I trained under one of the world’s leading experts in vascular biology and regenerative medicine. This started a relationship that would blossom into a mentorship and eventually a close friendship. Though this experience postponed my graduation for one year, I believe it was one of the defining and outstanding experiences on my application that helped me stand out amongst the piles and piles of other applicants. Do not be afraid to take calculated risks to stand out from the crowd! Lastly, my extracurricular activities included the on-campus Flying Samaritans club, which provides monthly clinical opportunities in Mexico for the underprivileged communities there, and the off-campus Clinical Care Extenders Internship, which is a patient-centered clinical experience that introduces you to a hospital setting.
Following graduation, I was fortunate to have a job lined-up for me in Houston, TX with my former mentor at Stanford University. He offered me the opportunity to continue my research in stem cell biology as well as help him build the premier Center for Cardiovascular Regeneration in the country. I graciously accepted his offer in the laboratory, but I also had greater ambitions in mind. Do not settle, and always continue to learn and grow! Now as an employee of the best rated hospital in the state of Texas, I knew I had opportunities to expand my experiences. Therefore along with all the wonderful awards, publications, and conferences that come along with research, I was also able to enhance my clinical experience by attending grand rounds with vascular surgeons and shadowing world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeons in the operating room. I was able to accomplish all of this by just asking. Do not be scared on rejection! Someone turning you down is an opportunity for someone else to say yes to you!
After 7 years of undergraduate studies and 2 years of post-graduate work, I can finally say that I made it into medical school. I will be starting at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in the Fall of 2015, and it is one of the most exciting and terrifying feelings in the world! A final piece of advice for anyone reading this is “Never give up!” Throughout my journey to medical school, I had numerous successful people tell me that I was going to fail and that I would never make it into medicine. Do not let them deter you! Continue to work hard and grow, take advantage of opportunities when they are presented to you (even if they take you to Texas or wherever), and surround yourself with supportive people who can help guide and mentor you. Lastly, do not give up your identity. Continue to do things that you love and that make you happy. Continue to practice your crafts and skills. Stay true to you because that is what ultimately will get you into medical school or whatever path you are pursuing. If you have any questions or are seeking advice, do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am more than happy to be a resource for my fellow Titans. Good luck!