To our beloved Columbia pre-meds,
I know what you’re thinking. It is indeed not possible (in my experience) to feel fully prepared for a science exam at Columbia, so stop beating yourself up about it! It is indeed unfair that science exam are, year after year, scheduled on the last day of finals and that your friends in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts somehow seem to always be done a week before you. There, there, pat, pat. I hear you. I’ve been there–actually, I’m still here, waiting to take my Biochemistry final on Thursday. I know how hard it is to ward off the effects of the pre-med panic and hype around finals, despite your best efforts. I consider myself a very level-headed and calm senior pre-med, and I still feel like my world’s going to end every time I go into 309 Havemeyer, 417 IAB, or any darn room in Pupin to take a science exam! I still call my mom after especially rough exams just to hear her say that she still loves me, EVEN if I DID fail that chem/bio/physics/orgo exam. (Okay, it’s a little embarrassing that I still do that, but hey, you just might find it helpful too!)
I wanted to share with you two things to help you get through those last days of exams.
One of my professors recently pointed me to the work of Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a pioneer in the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. She gave a University Lecture at Columbia this past April called “The HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Global Tragedy, Lasting Triumphs.” If you need to reminded about why exactly it is that you want to become a doctor, this is the lecture for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=eIBhyvYqDuE#!
In the spirit of Bwog, to which I am addicted, I asked the outgoing seniors in CU AMSA last year to write up some Pre-Med Senior Wisdoms. I bequeath them to you now. There will be more in the spring.
YOU CAN DO IT! YOU ARE ALMOST THERE!
Wishing you safe travels, happy holidays, and a much-deserved, restful Winter Break on behalf of CU AMSA!
CU AMSA 2012-2013 President
Pre-Med Senior Wisdoms
1. Susan Thomas, Germantown, Maryland, Biochemistry
Claim to Fame: I can wiggle my nose, ears, and eyebrows
Where are you going?: Taking a year off, then going to med-school (hopefully!)
Three Things You Learned at Columbia (Being Pre-Med and/or Not): Party hard, study hard, and humanity is pretty cool
“Back in my Day…”: Anna was still a bouncer at the heights
Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I’m really good at loading gels
Is the (Pre-Health) War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? During the Molecular Bio final exam, one student turned in his exam half way through. He then pulled a beer out and drank it in front of the whole class. Pre-meds can be awesome.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? This is how I feel about cheese: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeaPKuiyPK0
Advice for pre-meds: Try to interact with patients early on, as this is the best indicator of whether or not you actually want to be a doctor.
Any regrets? Not doing a thesis and more research…
What was your favorite science or pre-health class at Columbia? Biochemistry! Nothing gets better than applying organic chemistry to biological systems
What was your favorite class outside of the pre-health curriculum at Columbia? A class I took on Borges in Spanish. Blew my mind.
2. Caitlin Rogers, Plano, TX, CC, Biophysics
Claim to Fame: Swim team capitano?
Where are you going?: BU for a masters in biomedical forensic sciences
Three Things You Learned at Columbia (Being Pre-Med and/or Not):1. get off campus regularly–it’s a good way to clear your head and reminds you (particularly during stressful times) that a world outside the Columbia bubble exists, 2. Become friends with the heights and/or tom’s staff, 3. Choose classes that interest you, not ones that will look good on your transcript
“Back in my Day…”: Mel’s was a crappy Japanese restaurant…
Justify your existence in 30 words or less: nope.
Is the (Pre-Health) War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? If you feel like there’s a war on fun, you’re doing something wrong. You can be premed and have plenty of fun
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I would never give up cheese.
Advice for pre-meds: don’t be afraid to change your goals and your ideas about where you’re headed–you might find that there is something else that you are more passionate about than medicine. If that happens to you, don’t be afraid of changing directions. Be courageous and see where it leads you!
Any regrets? I don’t believe in having regrets as long as you learn something or laughed about your mistakes
What was your favorite science or pre-health class at Columbia? Genetics and bioethics
What was your favorite class outside of the pre-health curriculum at Columbia? History of the City of New York with professor Kenneth Jackson
3. Srikanth(Sri) Damera, Pittsford, NY, SEAS, Applied Math
Claim to Fame: Nighttime Sri
Where are you going?: NIH Postbacc IRTA Fellowship
Three Things You Learned at Columbia (Being Pre-Med and/or Not):
1) pre-med culture sucks, but not all pre-meds do…find some cool ones
2) even if you don’t know what you want to do make sure you stay on top of your stuff, so that when you choose a particular route you won’t have lost too much time
3) The classes you do best in are not necessarily the easiest… they are the ones you care the most about. Even if a class if hard take it if you are interested in the subject.
“Back in my Day…”:
Koronets was much cheaper and Jin Ramen didn’t exist.
Justify your existence in 30 words or less:
Family, friends, and food. I think all three need me as much as I need them.
Is the (Pre-Health) War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories?
being pre-med never was fun, but that doesn’t mean the classes you take and the people you meet aren’t. Go out and drink with your fellow pre-meds it will be awkward and it will probably end up being fun.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese?
I see/heard of more people living without cheese than oral sex… who am I to question the wisdom of the masses
Advice for pre-meds:
I would challenge more pre-meds to treat their undergraduate education as an end in and of itself rather than a necessary obstacle on the path to medical school. Take classes that you’re legitimately interested in whether that happens to be another language or quantum mechanics. You might not do as well, and getting into medical school might be a little bit harder, but over the long term if you want to go to medical school you almost definitely will, and if you’re smart you will stand out eventually no matter what. However, you will never again have the flexibility to explore so many new fields and learn so many new things in such an environment. Take advantage of that since the time you have at Columbia is singular and is a time you’re not getting back.
T;’dr: don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. Getting into medical school isn’t particularly hard if you’re persistent. Take advantage of your present opportunities to the fullest.
What was your favorite science or pre-health class at Columbia?
Organic Chemistry II… best class ever!
What was your favorite class outside of the pre-health curriculum at Columbia?
Although I sadly did not do very well: Fourier Analysis was a great class, and one of the most applicable I’ve taken.