Meet Jessica – A 1st Year Med Student at The Ohio State University

A first-generation high school graduate, college graduate, and now medical student, Jessica certainly has an inspiring story! Born to Mexican immigrants, she serves as a role model not only to her family members but to people in her community. She’s a good friend and classmate of mine who recently started Inspire Hope, a YouTube channel targeting high school and college students interested in the premed track. I’m very excited to share her story on my blog and hope you will be as inspired as I am!

A few key points from the interview:

  • It wasn’t until her senior year of high school that she decided to pursue medicine
  • She went through the medical school application cycle twice
  • The MCAT was a challenge for her, but after a couple of retakes, she beat it
  • She created her YouTube channel to inspire high school students

Free MCAT prep courses mentioned in the video:

Check out our video interview to learn more about her story!

A Year Already? How Sway?!

Exactly a year ago I had my interview at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. It’s crazy to think a year has gone by. Like how??


I still remember coming for the reception dinner the night before my interview and meeting the current MEDPATH students. I remember the morning of the interview trying to decide whether or not to wear flats or heels. At only 5’0 feet tall, sometimes even a teeny bitty heel can give you some confidence. So yea, I wore heels and might I say BIG mistake Lol. My feet were in complete and utter pain during the school tour. Yea, I still remember that pain – NEVER again. These memories are still fresh in mind, and knowing I have just 3 weeks until the semester ends, is surreal.

osu int

On my interview day last year – April 6, 2015!

Meeting the current MEDPATH interviewees for this coming year has made me realize how fast time goes. This week has been interview week and it’s been great meeting all the potential students. We organize an informal reception for them the night before both interview days where they can chat with current MEDPATH students, M1, M2 etc, and ask us questions pertaining to the medical school, MEDPATH or Columbus in general. It’s been pretty cool talking to them. I even met 5 people who read my blog! Hey y’all! That was also an awesome feeling.

I know some of them were a bit nervous for the interview, I remember that feeling all to well. I’ve yet to share this story on what happened right after my interview, so here it goes…

So I know I’ve mentioned this multiple times, but walking by faith (i.e. trusting God) is definitely my thing. I was at the airport heading back to Philadelphia from my interview at OSU when a shirt caught my eye. Something told me to go into the gift shop and buy that shirt. I looked at the price tag – about $20. Yikes! This trip was already costly enough, I didn’t need the shirt THAT bad, so I left. But something convicted my heart, “Derin go back and buy that shirt.” I probably spent about 15 mins in that store going back and forth on whether or not to get an OSU shirt. I prayed about it. “Lord, I really REALLY want this school. I know only you can make it happen. Only you can make it possible. I am TRUSTING you God and as I buy this shirt in FAITH, trusting that my acceptance will come, trusting that I’ll be able to lift my head up and rep this school, trusting that I’m not throwing $20 away, I know God, that you’ve done it already.” And so I bought the shirt. All I needed was one acceptance and I must say, God is a FAITHFUL God!

All that to say, God works in wonderful ways. I told some of the interviewees, be confident, give it your all, and if you’re meant to be here, you will be. No doubt about it 🙂


The special shirt 🙂

The Moment I Found Out I was Accepted To Medical School…

I was getting antsy. It had been over 2 weeks since my interview. 18 days to be exact. On my interview day, I and other interviewees had been told to expect an answer within 2 weeks. A guaranteed fast turn around. So then what was taking so long?


I casually glanced at my phone. No missed calls. It was 9:30 AM on a Friday, if I didn’t hear back today, it meant another long weekend. Now believe me, I was no stranger to waiting. I had waited almost 6 months to get a decision from a previous interview. This school, however, was different. A defined waiting period.

10:20 AM 

I glance down again. A missed call. One new voicemail. Both from a (614) area code.

OH MY GOSHHH!!!” I screamed in excitement! My coworker had been startled and looked at me now, worried.

Are you okay?

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh…” I continue to mutter incomprehensibly. My hands shaking as I called my voicemail.

“…I just wanted to let you know you’ve been accepted…” The voice on the other line said.

I immediately screamed.

I’ve been accepted!!! Oh my gosh!!” I jumped up and down ignoring the rest of the message. Two other coworkers rushed in, seeing me jumping up and down, they immediately knew.

Derin, congrats!!!

The squealing, hugging, and jumping up and down continued.

I had been accepted.


It felt surreal.


I wanted to cry, I wanted to laugh. I didn’t know what to do, but my coworkers were there and they understood how long of a process this had been for me. They understood. So they squealed and jumped up and down with me.

After they left, I played the voicemail over again. And again. And again. Then the flurry of texts to my parents, boyfriend, and close friends.

I had been accepted to medical school. Not just any medical school, but The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Wow!


It’s a conditional acceptance, and I’ld have to complete a one year program before beginning my first official year of medical school. Nevertheless, it’s still an acceptance. I’m going to be a DOCTOR! I’m going to be an Ohio State BUCKEYE!

I’m excited for the next 5 years, the lessons I’ll learn and the growth I’ll attain. It’s been a few weeks since I found out I was accepted, but that feeling of excitement is still the same. The journey continues!

Go Bucks!

That Time I Cried in My Med School Interview…

This is a true story. All of it. 

It was interview day. Myself and the other interviewees had been given a tour of the school and a presentation on how AMAZING the university and school of medicine is. Up next were the faculty and student interviews. I had the student interviewer first. He was a first year student and instead of the usual “Why medicine?” He asked questions relating to my weaknesses and the growth I’ve had since graduating from college two years ago. The interview was very relaxing; laughs were shared and he told me about his background as well. He also gave me tips for my faculty interview and in the end asked, “Is there anything you would like me to know that will help me be a strong advocate for you?” It was the golden question, and of course I delved into a specific interest and strength of mine.

osu int

Next was the faculty interview.

I came in confident.

I’ve got this. 

Or so I thought.

So tell me about yourself?” The first question of the day. I had prepped for this and began selling myself.

I am a very driven individual. My perseverance and drive for success has enabled me to…

He interrupted me.

Yea, yea, I get all that. You’re a hard worker, driven, and all that. But tell me about yourself. When did you move to the U.S.? How was that for you adjusting to a new country? Did you speak English?

Whoa. I was taken aback. Not exactly the direction I had planned on going with it, but sure I’ld take his lead.

And then he went on.

More personal questions.

And more.

It felt like a thug of war in which I was losing…badly. I wanted to talk about how amazing I was, and he wanted to talk about my struggles.

  • Personal struggles
  • Family struggles
  • Immigrant struggles
  • Academic struggles

The tears started to swell up. He had me talking about things I rarely talk about, and which I didn’t know had such an emotional impact on me. The tears could no longer be contained. A drop fell, than another.

I’m so so sorry,” I said as I wiped my tears and began fanning my eyes, hoping to dry away the waterfall. I was embarrassed. This was my med school interview and here I was crying like a baby. I was mortified.

It’s okay. It’s a lot of things to deal with. Physicians have emotions too.” He tried to reassure me.

I eagerly nodded.

And then he threw in a joke, and we laughed.

And laughed some more.

And the interview was over.

I walked out feeling like I had been stripped of every guard and mask I had put on. I had been vulnerable and my faculty interviewer saw me for who I really was. Not just the strong, extremely driven, intelligent woman I try to portray, but other parts of me few rarely see.

My faculty interviewer made the effort to REALLY get to know me.

That was POWERFUL. 

Despite the tears and all.

Updates: “Where You Been Girl?!”

It’s been exactly 6 weeks since my last post, YIKES! It’s not that I have nothing to write about or update on, it’s just…well, a combination of different things:

  • Been really busy – a promotion means more work. And boy, have I been working!
  • The healthcare management course – Absolutely love it! I have so much to write about on this but alas, see above obstacle.
  • My mood – I’ve had my share of ups and downs, writing means coming face to face with my feelings. Sometimes I’ld rather just squash them and pretend they don’t exist than face them head on.

So yes, these are the three main reasons for the hiatus. On that note, time for updates!

This med school journey has had me feeling like:


Image source: Unknown

Hilarious, but in all honesty, I’m STILL waiting on an acceptance (yes, even till now!). I also have one interview coming up. This has been a loooong journey, and I am just TIRED. This process has been so draining, particularly emotionally. Mayne! I don’t know how others can go through this process without a support system. I’m thankful for the encouragement from friends and family, Definitely. It’s nice to have someone knock some sense into me when I start sinking into a hole of self-pity.

I do have some *exciting* posts coming up:

  • Writing update letters
  • Post-bac programs and SMPs: What to consider
  • Another med student spotlight
  • Where I’ll be going in the Fall – To be determined!!

On a different note, I’ve been learning a lot about the money side of healthcare. For those who aren’t aware, it IS a business. A huge moneymaking business. Quite fascinating.

Financial health

Image source

I personally believe it’s important for providers to understand how the health system works – some knowledge on the business side of things. From what I’ve learned, it really does affect your ability to care for the patient, and it can be frustrating if you have little to no knowledge in this area (Also note: Majority, maybe 90% of the students in my class have parents who are physicians and were highly encouraged to study this area of healthcare. Could also be a selection bias though – Wharton students). I have a few things I’ld like to write about based on what I’ve been learning (someone hold me accountable please!)

  • Payment models for physicians – fee for service is terribly outdated. Should we be moving towards a capitation model? And then there’s this thug of war with health insurance companies…will write my thoughts on this later!
  • Patients having more “skin in the game” – the move towards cost-sharing and promoting health literacy in the U.S (this is on health insurance)…I have some mixed feelings about this.

And of course, whatever else comes to mind 🙂

The journey continues!

Reflecting on 2014: A Year of Greater

It’s that time of the year when I sit and reflect on the year – the highlights, the lessons learned, the challenges, and the celebratory moments. To do this, I use my journal and scan through the many months of writing, laughing, “oOoo’ing” and “Awww’ing” all through the exercise. It is in this moment I realize how much I accomplished this year, the lessons learned along the way, and how much of an impact certain events had on my life. In the beginning of 2014, I sought to embody my church’s theme for the year: “2014: Year of Greater.” Below is an excerpt from my January 2nd, 2014 journal entry:

Words can’t begin to describe how excited I am for this year. Like forreal. This is my year of greater favor, greater blessings, greater miracles. I mean God is seriously about to work in my life.

And God did work. In a mighty way

Here are a just few highlights from the year:

I launched my fitness instagram: @fitandfine_withdee which promotes fitness, health, and nutrition.

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I created my Afrobeat cardio video which now has 6000+ views on YouTube. Never would have thought!

I felt extremely overwhelmed and exhausted working full-time and taking classes in the evening. Taking Immunobiology may not have been the smartest idea.

I also joined my church choir 😀

I felt exhausted for most of the month. A lot of late nights, not much sleep. I was working 40 hour weeks and taking two classes in the evenings (I also took Biochemistry during my gap year by the way). My plan was to take advantage of the tuition benefit at my job – taking up to 2 classes for free. Lesson learned for those thinking of working full-time and taking classes to boost your med school application: I should have stuck with one.

Traveled to Chicago for a friend’s wedding. Awesome time!


Started blogging again! Turned in my med school application (AMCAS) early – oh yeaaa!!

Led a month long boot camp as an instructor for SweatU


Also published my first med student spotlight. It was on Naya, a second year med student. The post received a lot of positive feedback and has become the second highest viewed post on my blog at 548 views (as of today).

My cousin visited me from South Africa – awesome time!


Wrote a lot of secondaries for med schools

Got my braces installed – I am now team metal mouth 😛

Competed in my second Spartan Obstacle race


Took my MCAT again – no more!

Taught my first college seminar (preceptorial): “Say NO to the Freshman 15!

Invited to be a campaign manager for Memunatu Magazine’s Indiegogo campaign

Accepted high school cross country coaching position!

Got my first med school interview invite!!!

Presented at a conference on research I’ve been working on at my job (I was a co-presenter)

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My birthday! Had a blast ALL week

Med school interview!


Got into a relationship with the most awesome guy 🙂

I attended the RWJF Scholars Forum and SMDEP Alumni Summit – great time!

My first radio appearance!

I published my post: “#WhiteCoats4BlackLives: Acknowledging The Political Determinants of Health” which became the most viewed post on my site. In just less than a month, it has 1,122 views!

My post on the national white coat die-in gets published on “The health Care Blog.” This was a major accomplishment for me!! You can check it out here.

I get a promotion at my job!

All this to say, this year has certainly been a year of greater. I challenged myself more than I had done in the past and definitely pushed through several obstacles. I am thankful for an AMAZING year and very thankful to you, my readers, for reading each post, sharing them, and accompanying me on this journey. I am extremely excited for what 2015 has in store.

Cheers and Happy New Year Folks!

Interviews: Confidence, Confidence!

Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.” – Amy Cuddy

It’s been a while since I wrote about the med school application process – Life’s been crazy busy on my end. I’ve had it on my mind for some time now, to share the important video below on body language, confidence, and power. These are all important when doing med school interviews, and just any interview in general.

I first watched this Ted Talk about 2 years ago and was moved and intrigued. Amy Cuddy’s message really resonated with me. I definitely agree with everything she says in this video and since then, have made it a point to share with anyone who cares to watch.

Before interviews (job or med school), I “power pose.” It’s something I do, and I find that it works! As a highly observant individual, I personally pay attention to a person’s body language and often rely on nonverbal communication. That said, I’m keenly aware of how important it is to “fake it till you become it.” Check out the video and let me know your thoughts.


Strategies For Managing The Stress of The Application Process

The medical school application process can be very stressful. In addition to the overwhelming amount of writing – whether it be the personal statement or the flood of secondaries, there are also the “what ifs”, feelings of inadequacy, and the loneliness of the process. There is no doubt that the application cycle can be a mental battle of its own. Despite these factors, it IS possible to keep the stress level down and have a relatively anxiety free process. Personally, I have been using the following 10 strategies to overcome the mental challenges of my application process. I have found these strategies to be extremely beneficial and I hope they can help those of you also on this journey.

Here are my 10 strategies for managing the stress of the medical school application process:

1. Write in a journal

The back of my current journal

This is without a doubt one of my top methods for dealing with stress. I have been writing in a private journal since I immigrated to the United States in 2001 – Yes, that long! Research has shown that journaling is an effective way to relieve stress. It allows you to sort out your feelings and emotions and reflect on them. It also allows you to release your negative thoughts, emotions and concerns. It’s worked for me for the past 13 years and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon! Over the years, I’ve switched from fancy journals to simple composition books. If it’s your first time journaling, remember it’s only you reading it – no need to worry about punctuation, legibility and correct grammar. Just write your thoughts away 🙂

2. Get physically active

Hey look, it’s me!

This is also another one of my favorite ways to de-stress. I find that when I stop working out, I begin to feel overwhelmed and unfocused. It’s common knowledge that exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins – the “feel good” hormone. During this application cycle, I have been taking a West African dance class on Mondays and exercising other times during the weeks. To challenge myself, I did my second obstacle course race two weeks ago (To be fair, I signed up for this race back in Nov 2013). I find that the emotional benefits of exercising are unmatched. If you don’t feel like running, simply turn up the music in your room and have a dance party; your endorphins are guaranteed to go up!

3. Surround yourself with positive people; envision your goal

Positive energy is very important during this process. Don’t let your insecurities get the best of you! It’s important to surround yourself with positive people that encourage and believe in you and your goals. I have also found it beneficial to envision my goal – med school. This sometimes mean creeping through the #Medstudent, #Medschool or #FutureMD hashtag on Instagram to encourage myself (yes, I’ll confess – guilty as charged!) or reading blogs of other med students or current applicants. The goal is to stay as encouraged and motivated as possible. This is also another reason I post the med student spotlight; It’s encouraging to read about other students’ paths to med school. We all have our challenges, but if you persevere, the reward is well worth it.

4. Remove negative people and thoughts

As you begin to surround yourself with positive people who encourage and motivate you, it’s also important to remove the negative factors as well. This could mean spending less time with that friend who seems to always have a discouraging statement on their lips, or possibly deactivating your Facebook. If you find that being on Facebook affects your mood i.e. making you feel less than awesome because you find yourself comparing your current situation to your friends’ seemingly amazing lives, then stay off the social site – at least, for the time being.

5. Stay organized

This is a key to staying sane – seriously. Instead of trying to juggle all the secondary due dates in your head and all the tasks that need to get accomplished, simply write them down. Use your calender or planner. As I mentioned in a previous post, I use excel to track my secondary due dates, completion dates, and my overall application process. I feel a little less stressed knowing that everything is one place and I know exactly what I need to do and when it needs to get done.

6. Pray

Praying is one of my top strategies during this process. I find comfort in knowing that God is in control and that His plan for me is perfect. I know that he is looking out for me which is a huge burden off my shoulders. I especially rely on this verse:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

7. Talk to people

If writing isn’t your thing, then talking to people is one alternative. Although your friends may not be on this path with you, they are most likely willing to listen to you vent on the challenges of this process. A good friend, sibling, or parent is more often than not, willing to lend a listening ear. It’ll make you feel better and they may have some encouraging words for you. First, of course, you have to open your mouth. Don’t hold all that stress inside.

8. Be social

Just because you’re applying doesn’t mean your social life is over – how miserable would that be! It’s okay to take a break from secondaries or studying for MCAT, and hang out with friends. You can chill out with some Netflix or if you live in a city like I do, check out some of the events going on. This past weekend, for example, I spent some time studying, then treated myself to a local jazz festival – I regret nothing!

9. Manage your time wisely

You know what you need to do, your friends and family may not, so it’s important to manage your priorities wisely. Time management is key here! Sometimes that means saying no to friends – “Sorry, but I can’t go out tonight,” or perhaps taking a day off work to get some writing done. Your time is especially valuable during this application process.  However, when it’s all over, there will be lots of time to spare on any and everything, along with the joy of an acceptance.

10. Relax and hope for the best

Lastly, relax and hope for the best. You’ve worked hard and sacrificed quite a bit to get to this point. By now, you are certain you want an acceptance more than anything you’ve ever wanted in your life (meaning you can’t see yourself being anything BUT a doctor). That said, remember that even if the cycle doesn’t go as well as you planned, you can STILL become a doctor. That might mean applying a second or third time like some current med students and residents that I know. One thing I have learned is that this whole journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Just like any marathon, there are highs and lows, moments where you might fall or feel at your worst, but the key thing is to keep pushing towards your goal. If you have that drive, determination and perseverance, you WILL succeed. At least, I am certain that I WILL succeed, no matter how long it takes 🙂

I hope these strategies are as helpful to you as they are to me.
Do you utilize other strategies not mentioned here? Do drop a comment below.

Fear vs Confidence

I just realized I’ve been doing this all wrong. My approach towards the MCAT has been ALL wrong. Let me explain. So most of the people I know have taken the exam twice, actually everyone I personally know, has taken the exam twice, except for two people. So my drive towards this whole period of studying has been my FEAR of taking the exam a second time. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I just read a friend’s blog on confidence and he pointed out the difference between fear and confidence, which really opened my eyes to my faulty approach. As someone else put it “Fear is the anticipation of a future failure” while “CONFIDENCE is the anticipation of future success.” So instead of being driven by fear, I should instead have a hunger, a deep insatiable hunger for success built on confidence. It should be “I AM going to get a 35, I know it, God said so” Boom! The End. Not “Please God, I don’t want to take this exam a second time, help me do well.” You see the difference there? Why am I worrying about taking it a second time, when my primary goal should be nailing the exam. My confidence should be off the roof! And that sort of confidence and positive thinking is what’s really going to help me retain the information and walk into my exam feeling like a BOSS.

So yep, new approach. Not afraid of this MCAT anymore, conquering the beast, starting RIGHT NOW. I know I’ll nail it. 6 weeks to go baby!