Sj-r: High school ‘pipeline’ program produces first crop of medical students

High school ‘pipeline’ program produces first crop of medical students

A program begun 10 years ago to encourage Springfield-area high school students interested in becoming doctors and to help diversify the medical profession has begun to yield tangible results — by producing medical students.

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Melanin in Medicine

‎Melanin In Medicine: Episode 22: Life/MCAT Advice from Tare and Masters Degrees on Apple Podcasts

‎Kia journeyed back to Carbondale IL to attend her post baccalaureate banquet! There she interviewed her good friend Tare who will be matriculating this fall to medical school! Be sure to follow her journey on her blog Prescribed by Tare for another perspective of this process! Thank you so much Tare…

I had the opportunity to switch things up and was featured as a guest on Episode 22 of the Melanin in Medicine podcast by my friend Kia from MEDPREP! We talked a little about my undergraduate experience, why I attended the MEDPREP program, my graduate experience and obtaining my Masters degree, the dreaded MCAT exam and just an overall summary of my journey to this current day! There are some MCAT tips mixed in as well, so listen carefully because I also have a surprise announcement!

Did you have a similar or different experience in your educational pursuits? Were there any takeaways you got from the episode? How did you find listening to this podcast over the traditional blog posts? Questions? Let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below. Happy listening!

Melanin in Medicine is a podcast created by two besties Kia and Florence who both will be starting Medical school this Fall at the University of Kansas School of Medicine!

This is a podcast to encourage any and all who are interested in becoming a doctor. We want to target underrepresented minorities in this podcast who may not have people they could use as a resource for how exactly to get through undergrad, MCAT studies and applying to medical school. As we transition into medical school this year we’d like to share our experiences and hope that our transparency will help others on their own journey!

-Melanin in Medicine

Be sure to check out and subscribe to the Melanin in Medicine podcast and follow them on instagram !

Rejected to Accepted

“We regret to inform you that after further consideration…” This is how most medical school rejection letters started out. Now, imagine receiving 10 of these. When I applied to medical school for the 2016 application cycle just two years ago that was my reality. Rejection from every school I applied to. Crushed was an understatement of what I was feeling…but I still had hope. There was no way my story would end there. I had faith in God that even though it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, it would work out the way He wanted it to.

While I was applying, I wasn’t sure how things would turn out given my low MCAT scores and the submission of my applications being so late that cycle. But I chose to ignore that feeling and apply anyways. Have you ever had this idea that if  you just “try your best,” or “do what you can,” then surely God will handle the rest right?

Wrong. Well, at least the reasoning was wrong.  Through this experience, I learned the importance of God’s will. I strongly believe it was not God’s will for me to gain entry into medical school the first time around. But as to be expected, I couldn’t quite grasp that concept at the time.

Would you believe me if I told you that during the Fall of that application cycle I had a dream that I would be accepted not into medical school but into the MEDPREP post bacc program at Southern Illinois University (SIU) Carbondale, IL? I kid you not this actually happened.  Now, it wasn’t exactly clear in the dream that the acceptance would be for the MEDPRPEP program, but it was clear that I would be accepted to “SIU.”  I tried to bend the and  interpret the dream that I would be accepted to the SIU School of Medicine. You ever get a vision or inclination of what God has planned for you or actually ask God what He wants you to do in a certain situation, to which He answers, but then somehow you try to make that answer fit what you want to do still? Tsk Tsk.

Funny enough, as the rejection letters kept rolling in, I did end up applying to the MEDPRPEP post bacc program later in January. In fact, the day I interviewed for entry into the MEDPREP program in March was the same day I received my last medical school rejection letter. That was it. No medical school for me that year.

Wow right?  Now I know some of you may be somewhat skeptical about what I just said. Disclaimer: I am a spiritual person, I am a Christian, and this was my reality. My goal here is not to force anything on you but to share with you what I personally experienced. As you know, I am now currently finishing up my second year and Masters degree in Biological Sciences at MEDPREP at SIU in Carbondale, IL. Mind you, I had no intention of moving down to Carbondale, I didn’t even want to apply to MEDPREP! But I truly believe that God intended for me to end up here to receive better MCAT and medical school preparation, but also for the life lessons and spiritual growth I received and continue to experience while being down here.

The post-bacc program helped me a lot with MCAT prep, but it was still on the individual to take advantage of that preparation and maximize it. With the help of my professors I was open to new ways of looking at and approaching problems, but I also had to do some major introspection and fine tune my study habits and the way I processed information. Gone were the days of pulling all nighters because I had to learn how to space study. I sat in the front row of most my classes and frequently went to office hours. I basically took all the study skills and lessons I had started to develop late in  undergrad and fine tuned them even more to account for the large amount of info received in medical school. I actually believe that I became smarter as time progressed. Grasping concepts came quicker and processing information became easier and easier. Things just started to make sense to me more so than they ever did before. Now..onto the life lessons…

Non-academically speaking, I learned a lot about myself during this period of my life.  During this short time in the little town of Carbondale I have experienced the most growth emotionally, physically, and spiritually that I would not have otherwise received had I not came here for this program. To stay on top of all classes, exams, and later MCAT studying while maintaining my own personal needs and well-being brought along some stress and took a lot of effort. The frustration, the tears, the amount of times I questioned God and his plan for me…it was a lot. (I wonder how I’ll survive med school!)

However, I  learned a lot about myself, friendships, trusting others, when to lean on others, how to be vulnerable, when to be vulnerable, when to laugh, when to cry… But most importantly, I learned that God was with me every step of the way. I saw the best in people and also saw the worst. All in all I learned how to be…me and more of who I was and wanted to be. Things I did and did not identify with both in principle and in action became more apparent. I had to search deep within myself to figure what exactly I wanted out of this life. As a spiritual person that answer was simple, to do whatever it is that God has called me to do which I believe ultimately lies somewhere in the field of Medicine as far as careers go, but also to truly help others. In finding myself I also found God. I found my identity in Christ as I drew nearer to Him, which I believe was His ultimate plan.  I don’t believe I’ve “figured it all out” or anything like that. I am still learning more and more each day about myself and even about my beliefs. I am not the same person I was last year and I hope to continue to grow and change each and every day.

With what I know now, and have learned over this time I finally see why it didn’t work out the first time. Getting rejected from medical school was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me.  During the time between my last and current application, I gained knowledge, wisdom, bettered myself academically and mentally. And I can now proudly say that through hard work, perseverance, tears, blood, sweat, and God on my side…

I have been ACCEPTED into not one, not two…but multiple Medical far! From receiving zero interviews during my last application, I have now received many interviews and still counting! Wow what a journey. Finally. I did it. Im doing it. I’m going to medical school! To think that just 2 years ago the opposite was true. But my story does not end here. I still don’t know which medical school I will end up in or what specialty I will ultimately practice, but I do know this:

All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord who have been called according to His purpose

-Romans 8:28

I hope to have inspired you with this story! Please let me know where you are on your own medical school journey or if anything I mentioned resonated with you in the comments below!


So you want to be a doctor?

So you want to be a doctor…right? I would like to start by sharing with you a poem I wrote after shadowing in the emergency department at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois, in 2010. It was during my sophomore year in high school. I posted the poem on a website online and years later it was picked up and published by The America Library of Poetry in their book “Accomplished,” just last year!


Walking down the narrow, seemingly endless hallway.
The faint cry of someone in pain, in agony, possibly dying; but no, being-
This wonderful phenomenon could be heard from behind the curtains.
The curtains
The only wall separating this miracle form actuality.
Meanwhile nurses and doctors wait behind their desks for the “next.”
Boredom lurking, anxiously waiting.
Reality hit like heavy rain.
Could I really see this happening? Do I want this?
I can’t’ do this.
I won’t do this!
No patience to wait for that –

When I reflect back to when I wrote this poem, only God knows what I witnessed to prompt me to write it! But in any case, I request that you too reflect over this poem. As you do so, ask yourself these questions: Can you really see this happening? Do you really want this? Do you have the patience required not only as a physician, but for the process it takes to become one? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself constantly during your own journey to becoming a doctor. Every new experience you have shadowing, volunteering, and interacting with those in your desired field, should continue to solidify your answers to those questions.

If I had a dollar for the amount of people known between my friends and I that started out wanting to be a doctor but ended up on a different path…Let’s just say I would be much richer! But jokes aside, I picked up that some of those people either were not prepared to make the sacrifice or just did not have the patience to continue down that path. This also begs the question: Were they really passionate about becoming a doctor in the first place? Don’t get me wrong. I understand that college opens up your mind and exposes you to new experiences, as it should. Everyone has the right to change paths as their interests change. However, I’m referring to those that talked-the-talk about becoming a physician. Those that could swear by their mother’s grave when probed on the subject. I propose that the answer to my question is no. To better understand my reasoning, let’s look at the definition of passionate:

Passionate: having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling.

We all can probably agree that medicine is NOT for everyone. All the same, before you begin to make any progress towards becoming a physician, you should first make up your mind about whether or not you really want to pursue that path: Success has no place for indecisiveness. It is also imperative that your intensions and expectations are well founded when deciding. This is where passion comes in. Becoming a doctor is something that you should feel compelled to do. When speaking about it, you should be able to relate to your words on an emotional level. That’s how it is for me in any case. Go ahead and talk-the-talk: the tongue is a powerful tool. But you also better walk-the-walk too: actions speak louder than words. You must be passionate but also faithful, ambitious, and unrelenting in your pursuit to becoming a doctor. Regardless of your perceived intelligence, major, GPA, age etc., with just a little more patience, medicine CAN be for you!

So why are you passionate about becoming a doctor? What steps have you taken in deciding if medicine is right for you? Let me know in the comments below!