The College Years, Chapter 1: First term, first year.

So, I was a first-quarter freshman in a college with a great student:teacher ratio, an awesome science program, a focus on forming well-rounded citizens of the world, and a good reputation in the medical school admissions community, excited to be at this next stepping stone on my path to being a doctor. Except, I didn’t really want to do college. I just wanted to be in med school already. So I didn’t exactly have the best attitude about college, but I knew I had to do it, so I was determined to make the best of it. Not in terms of “make ALL the friends and go to all the parties!” Not at all! More like, “be the perfect applicant.”

I was a super-planner. It seemed like every week, I would re-examine my 4-year schedule, taking a look at exactly what classes I should take which terms in order to get exactly the academic experience I wanted. (I called my dad a lot and my constant fine-tuning annoyed the crap out of him, to be quite honest.) Despite all the schedule adjustments, The Plan was to major in biochemistry, with a double minor in math and anthropology. I was going to be the ultimate Well Rounded Med School Applicant – unique in a pool of applicants who “all” had a bio major and chem minor.

During orientation, our advisor groups (~10 people per advisor) went out to dinner together. That’s where I “met” my first college friend, Nick. (Actually, we had communicated via facebook and skype since May, and had become pretty close via the interwebz.) Also in my group were Chris, Shelly, and Sarah (the latter two – and Nick – were also pre-med). My advisor, Dr. J.K. seemed very cool. She just “got” us, and was willing to pretty much do whatever we wanted with our academic plans, as long as we were making satisfactory process. I also attended the pre-med talk, where people interested in pre-med got to ask questions of the pre-med advisors: Dr. Judy, and MJS.

The first snafu crept into the equation when I decided to take physics as a freshman, because (based on my high school experiences) I HATED physics and just wanted to get it OUT OF THE WAY for my med school pre-requisites. Now, this isn’t the typical “I just couldn’t hack physics and it made me question if I had what it took to become a doctor” story. This is an “OMG PHYSICS IS AWESOME AND SO MUCH COOLER THAN CHEMISTRY” (which I was also taking at the time, and also accomplished at) story. My 3rd class was the mandatory freshman diversity credit which literally everyone hated for one reason or another (my college worked on a 3×3 system – 3 classes each quarter, but short quarters, wherein you literally learned 16 weeks’ worth of material in 9 weeks).

Dr. M.S. quickly became my favorite professor. He was young, passionate, and impressive – which made him somewhat intimidating – and he was one hell of a physics teacher. (He also happened to be married to MJS, the pre-med advisor, so his approval was extra important to me!) I got 97% on our first exam, which was the highest score in the class – which consisted mostly of juniors and seniors. Without ever speaking to him, other than being randomly called on in class, I decided I wanted to make my math minor a physics minor instead. The second exam, I only got a high B, which was totally unacceptable to me. So I went in to Dr. M.S.’s office to ask him what I should do. He is not exactly the warm and fuzzy type, but he immediately said he had noticed my homework scores and my work at the blackboard, and gave me some test-taking strategies (ie if I get stuck, just move onto the next thing.) He asked me if I was a sophomore (“no, I’m a first-year”), and then leaned back in his chair, put his hands into steeple fingers, and asked: “So, have you thought about what you’re going to major in?” My sheepish response (and it’s really too bad you can’t hear how I said it) was “well, I came here for biochemistry… but I’m thinking of minoring in physics!” And he immediately got out a legal pad and started charting out a plan for me to double major in physics and biochemistry, and be an awesome med school applicant. I was elated that my favorite professor seemed to like me too. And for the better part of two years, that double major was the new route to med school.

One of the girls in my physics class was Robyn – a sophomore officer in the pre-health professions club, and sister of the Tri-Delta sorority. She was pretty much who I aimed to be. Except she was a bio major. Let’s be real: it was largely because of Robyn that I went to all the pre-health club meetings. She was inspiring, and she knew so much, and I owe so much to her, for keeping me in the game.

Socially, Nick and his dormmates were my best friends. I was over there so frequently that there were people who literally thought I lived in Shneifert instead of Post – and an even higher percentage of people (including my own dormmates, Nick, most of his dormmates, and even random people who would see us hanging out) who thought Mike (Nick’s next-door neighbor) and I either were “a thing” or should be “a thing.” Mike and I went on a lot of walks together around campus and on more than one occasion he remarked that I was too good of a student, and worked too hard. He only meant that I should enjoy myself more, but I posed a question to him: if he were to ever need surgery (I wanted to be a surgeon, at that point – which, I’m a 5-foot-small bubbly girly girl, so it surprised most people) would he want a doctor who was just going to go with the flow, or would he want a doctor who was hard-working and going to do everything in his/her power to fix the problem? That seemed to register with him, and he relented.

Anyway, straight A’s during my first term of my first year of College, regular attendee of pre-health club meetings and activities, and an amazing support system of both peers and professors. I was off to a good start, even if I was more enamored of Physics than I had ever thought possible. What was in store for the second term?

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