I grew up in Guatemala without any dreams or aspirations, but when I arrived in California at the age of eight, I was taught to “reach for the stars.” My passion for math and science led me to seek a career in the medical field. At the age of sixteen, I was working for an office with six doctors; two of them have continued to be my mentors. They taught me the ins and outs of a medical office, which led to my decision to pursue a medical career.
As a CSUF student, I was associated with the Golden Key International Honour Society. They provided me with many opportunities to volunteer. Besides volunteering, I must admit I was the typical average student that disappears in a crowd. I was too busy juggling work and school to get involved in student activities. However, I did intern as a Clinical Care Extender at St. Francis Medical Center for a year to get more hands-on experience. The clinical exposure and patient interaction I gained from this truly reinforced my decision to apply to medical school to become a physician. I would highly recommend students to apply to this or similar internships.
One of the biggest advices I can give students is to develop a friendship with your professors because you will need their help when it is time to submit letters of recommendation. Believe it or not, your professors want you to succeed! I am very thankful to Dr. Paula Hudson and Dr. Sean Walker for writing my letters. It had been years since I had been in their classes, but they still took the time out of their busy schedule to write them.
Remember to start the application process early and apply for the Fee Assistance Program (FAP). With FAP, I was able to apply to 14 schools for free!!! If you don’t qualify, apply to as many schools that you can afford. For me, the application process was very stressful because I applied in October. I took the MCAT in September, which didn’t allow time for a retake, so I chose to apply with that score. I applied to 15 schools, had 3 interviews, and received 2 acceptances.
It is very difficult to say, “don’t be nervous” during your interview because I was very nervous, but honestly the admissions committee just want to get to know you as a person. They want to match your personality to the one they developed of you from reading your personal statement. Out of the thousands of applicants, they chose to meet and get to know you. Therefore, just be honest, be yourself, and smile!