Pomona College, Medical Student, Massachusetts

My time in high school

Attended high school in the

Overall high school experience
9/10. I was really stressed out in high school, and with hindsight bias I know that I could have handled it better, but in my memories I still had a great time! I had really good professors and a couple really good friends, who made a huge difference.

Grades in high school
Mostly A's. I had a perfect GPA; I think I got a semester with 7 A+s. I tried really really really hard for my grades while continuously panicking that I was not working hard enough (not the best mindset). In hindsight, I got really good preparation for college but I also think it would have been better for me not to have been quite so worried all of the time.


Favorite subjects
English, History / Social Studies, Foreign Language, Science

Struggled with...
Math! I kept forgetting to keep track of negative signs and lost a lot of points on every test from careless mistakes. I couldn't help it, even though I double checked everything all the time! I used to get a D or F on the first exam of every year, and then I'd spend the rest of the semester trying to make it up so I could get an A.

Favorite extracurricular
Arts / Crafts

Life since high school

Being a hospital volunteer helped me a lot because patients did not care at all about my 4.0 GPA or whether I was good at science; what mattered was how I interacted with them and worked to make the whole health care team better.

Attended college / university at
Pomona College

Majored in
Chemistry major

Post-graduate education or training
Master's Degree at the University of Cambridge MD, Harvard Medical School (starting fall of 2016)

Places lived in US
California, Massachusetts

Places lived outside the US
United Kingdom (Cambridge)

Current occupations / past occupations
Research Assistant, Future Medical Student

Industries I've worked in
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (e.g. Law, Accounting, Interior Design, Graphic Design, R&D, PR, Advertising, etc.)
- Health Care and Social Assistance

Did your education prepare you for your career or occupation?
Yes, my education was really important (unfortunately admissions to medical school do rely heavily on your academic performance...)

 How does your college experience compare to your expectations of it while you were in high school?
I actually ended up having a much better time in college than in high school. I learned to have a healthier outlook, but Pomona also seemed a lot less competitive than [high school] was for me, in the sense that people did not compare grades or talk about academic performance really. I was still stuck in the "I have to be a perfect student" vibe for a while, but this was less because of the environment and mostly because of myself.

Has your education or career/occupation trajectory ever changed? How?
I've wanted to do medicine for a long time, but I think I can safely say now that I'm doing it for the right reasons, rather than wanting to "seem successful" to others. 

A little introspection...

To me, being successful means...
Being happy and as healthy as possible, both physically and mentally. Being conscious of all moments, good or bad, and making sure you're shaping them the way you want to to the best of your ability; not taking your life or your abilities for granted. Doing something that impacts other people positively, even if it's in a small way.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I admittedly used to be obsessed with academic success-- getting As, 100s, being seen as a "perfect" student.

My greatest accomplishment to date and what I’ve learned from it
I think I've done a lot of things, both big and small, and its important for me to acknowledge all of this rather than define myself by a few large events--I am proud of getting into medical school, but I am also proud that I used to pick up earthworms off the sidewalk after it rained. Out of my moments, the ones that motivate me the most when I remember them are when I had a positive impact on other people (I know it sounds cheesy).

My biggest mistake or regret so far and what I’ve learned from it
I think I was more selfish when I was younger because I was so obsessed with my own success and how others viewed me. Since then, I have learned to be more aware of those around me so that I do not take things or people for granted.

I also had my sense of identity and self-worth strongly attached to my ability to perform academically and being seen as a great student. Worse, I thought that this was something normal and something to be proud of. I used to go to the bathroom before exams in high school and college and try to throw up. I did not think much of it and it was almost comforting as a sort of a ritual. Eventually I realized I was harming myself for something that did not actually matter that much, and decided to focus on my abilities and what I could do for others. Being a hospital volunteer helped me a lot because patients did not care at all about my 4.0 GPA or whether I was good at science; what mattered was how I interacted with them and worked to make the whole health care team better. Using this new outlook has made a huge difference, even though academically I guess not much changed. I still struggle from time to time and have to sit myself down and think about whether I'm doing something because I want to or because it's "what I'm supposed to do" according to an external set of standards, but I'm trying. It's a work in progress! 

An unexpected event that significantly changed my life and how it impacted me
I graduated from [high school] in 2010 and was therefore there when we lost peers due to suicide. This really shocked all of us; for me, I felt really guilty about not having been more conscious of the community. I think the events that happened pushed me to reevaluate my own values and what I thought was important. I learned to acknowledge my own unhappiness and stress and actively work to become happier (although it took me a few years to really master this). I also wanted to start being more aware of those around me and use my own abilities to do something for others; I think this gave me a great push towards medicine.