Faith

Staying Encouraged in the Storm

It can be incredibly hard to stay encouraged in the middle of a storm. In my application cycle, I had many moments where I felt discouraged, helpless, angry…I mean literally crying and asking God (okay I’ll admit, a few occasions yelling to God about how angry I was) why things weren’t going as planned.

Yea.

This application cycle was a roller coaster of emotions.

glass case of emotions

I’m someone who applied to 19 schools as early as June of last year (see relevant post here) and filled out 15 secondaries. Out of the 15 schools my application was complete at, I received only 2 interviews. One interview was held the 1st week of October and the 2nd interview exactly 6 months later (to the exact date). I mean the application cycle was ROUGH.

Add in the fact that the first school I interviewed at deferred me in November up until the last week in March, when I received the final decision. Rejected. 6 months of waiting. Hoping. Refreshing my emails. Checking my mailbox.

Every.

Single.

Day.

It was freaking hard.
charlie-brown-waiting-by-mailbox
During this period there was one particular song that really encouraged me when I had those dark days. It’s a Nigerian gospel song.

In the video, the protagonist’s (artist) significant other is sentenced to be killed. She’s devastated, sobbing, feeling helpless, but then she begins praising God: “Jesus you are worthy, Savior thou at worthy…Kene nu Jesu o (Give Jesus thanks)…” In the midst of her praising God, her situation turned around. The man’s life was spared.

Every time I watched the video, listened to the song, I was reminded to praise God regardless of what I’m going through. To find God in this situation. Yes the wait is frustrating, but guess what, my patience is way higher now. I know all about waiting. Yea, I only had one interview for a very loooooooooong time, but hey, at least I got one. That was a miracle on its own considering my stats and how competitive this application cycle was.

I listened to this song and was reminded to be joyful. To counteract my negative thoughts with positive ones.

It worked.

In the midst of this incredibly challenging application cycle, I was blessed in so many ways. I got into a relationship with an awesome guy (who supported me immensely during this process), I got a promotion at my job, and several other things happened that I’m thankful for.

I’m saying this to encourage someone out there. You might be in the middle of your “storm,” you might be frustrated, angry, perhaps feeling helpless…

Stay encouraged.

Lift your head up.

Find God in your situation.

Find reasons to be thankful.

A heart of praise does wonders for the soul.

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.

Who Moved My Cheese?! – Reminiscing on Unexpected Changes

A few weeks ago, I was reflecting on my med school journey (as I often do), but this time getting frustrated. Why was my journey so different than I imagined it would be 6 years ago? In a matter of seconds, two words came to mind – curve balls. Yes, Derin, life is always going to throw some curve balls your way and you’ve got to roll with the punches. Hence why I created this blog in the first place.

Who Moved My Cheese Quotes (4)

Image Source

I’ve certainly had my share of unexpected changes in the past, and reflecting on them, I’m amazed at how God works – those changes have always been for the BEST. Let me share a few examples with you:

Case 1:

Moving in the middle of my sophomore year of High school. I moved to another state in the middle of my 2nd semester. Besides the challenge of making new friends, the curriculum was different (semester classes vs my previous year-round classes), which was disruptive to my education. This change however turned out to be one of the GREATEST blessings. Prior to moving, I googled my new school and found a short article on a former student who was a recipient of the Questbridge National College Match Scholarship. I was amazed and promptly bookmarked it for future reference. A year and a half later, I applied to that same scholarship and not only became a finalist but a recipient! This was huge for me. As a rising high school senior, paying for college was something I was highly concerned about. I immigrated to the U.S. with my family just 7 years earlier, had no college savings/ any saving really, and was strongly considering the Army Reserve to finance my education (my parents and I even met with a recruiter!). The move and unexpected change, turned out to be a wonderful blessing.

questbridge

Throwback to my acceptance: Source here

Case 2:

Fast forward to my college graduation. I was super excited as one can imagine, but also looking forward to a paid summer internship in Ghana. I would be working with high school kids at an innovation academy. Having tried for the past 2 years to attain an internship in Ghana, I was thrilled my dream was finally coming true. Even better, my flight was being paid for! Since I had this post-college plan, I stopped looking for jobs and decided to post-pone the search till my return to the U.S. Well, 2 weeks before I was set to leave the country, the internship was cancelled due to funding. My heart sunk. WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?! It was certainly an unexpected change and before I could let the disappointment fully sink in, I began applying for full-time jobs – literally less than 12 hours after receiving the news. Reality sunk in, I was a college graduate with no immediate plans. I was in panic mode. One of the jobs I applied to during that frenzy is the job I currently have. Funny enough, the position had been recently posted. When I saw the description, I was like what? Could it be? Research “capturing contextual and socio-cultural factors that contribute to health disparities” within a clinical setting and at one of the country’s top health systems. Whoa! This is exactly why I majored in Sociology of Health and Medicine! Well, I got the job and the rest as you all know is history. I love what I do!

All this to say, unexpected changes can TRULY be a good thing. Thinking about my med school journey, I’ve certainly had my share of unexpected changes. Sometimes it can be difficult to deal with, but one just has to keep chugging along. Just roll on out with the punches. As I wrote in an interview, a re-direction can be a good thing! See interview here.

For anyone that has difficulty dealing with change, do check out this book: “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. I first read it when I was 14 years old and loved it. As someone who has dealt with quite a bit of change, I highly recommend it!

WHO MOVED

How do you deal with change? Drop a comment below!

Meet Stacy – A 2nd Year Med Student at American University of Antigua

drConsidering a Caribbean medical school? Then check out Stacy’s story. Stacy is a second year medical student at American University of Antigua (AUA). We met Summer 2010 through SMDEP (college freshmen and sophomores, I encourage you to APPLY!). She certainly had her share of curveballs on her journey to medical school. During her sophomore year of college, she fell ill with Lupus, a systemic autoimmune disease. Despite this and other challenges along the way, she refused to give up on her goal. I’m in awe of her story and very excited to share it with you all!

What led you to pursue medicine?
My parents were great motivators for me to look towards a career in medicine. At a young age, they were able to assess my characteristics and really guide me towards the field.

What was your major in college and how did that prepare you for medical school?
I majored in Biology at North Carolina A&T State University. My major assisted me with understanding the foundations during my first year of medical school. The courses such as genetics, virology and cell/molecular biology are just a few courses that I really recommend undergrads take seriously if they plan on attending medical school.

Did you ever consider giving up on your dream? What obstacles or hurdles did you have to overcome in your medical school journey?
Oh yes! After my MCAT scores remained below average, I looked at several other options within the health field. To tell you the truth, every time I considered another option a little life escaped from me.

Like many students, I had my education and career goals planned out up. I planned on graduating Summa Cum Laude, within 4 years and heading straight to medical school thereafter. During my sophomore year in undergrad, I fell ill with SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), which was my first detour in life. Missing a semester (especially according to my education plan), threw off my course schedule which wouldn’t allow me to take the MCAT during my junior year. Therefore, I had to re-evaluate and adjust accordingly. I registered for summer classes and took a large load during the semester because I really wanted to graduate in the year 2011, even if it would be a winter graduation.

By the grace of God, I successfully obtained both my goals of graduating in the year 2011 and Summa Cum Laude.

The MCAT: I wanted to use the self-study method because I wanted to save my parents’ funds for when medical school actually approached. Unfortunately, this option didn’t allot me the scores necessary to gain acceptance into a U.S college/school of Medicine.

It’s really cool that you’re attending med school in the Caribbean, can you tell us more about that? What’s the experience like for you? Any advice for students considering this option?
Attending school in the Caribbean is a really great option for those who are still determined to pursue their medical career despite their trials. I am starting my second year at American University of Antigua (AUA) and I am extremely blessed for the opportunity to be here. One thing I enjoy about my school is that it’s comprised of students from different nationalities, all with the same goal. The classes are large (about 200 students) per semester, but the journey is worthwhile. I personally have not “enjoyed” the island because I am focused on the goal ahead of me. The culture of the local Antiguan residents is slower than most are used too, but I enjoy it.

For anyone planning on considering this option I would suggest you first pray for guidance on such a huge decision, and then find students who have attended that particular school and inquire of their particular experience. Attending a Caribbean school should never be considered an “easier route”!! One must now supersede their American counterparts board scores to be considered a spot for residency and the like.

So how was the application process for you?
Since I had all of my documents from the AMCAS system, the process was fairly easy and swift.

How is your first year of medical school going?
It is going (LOL). Or shall I say “it went” since I am entering my second year this February. It was a lot of hard work, and the pressure is always apparent. I had to find ways to relax and not stress out because medical school is a journey, not a race.

What do you enjoy most about medical school?
I love learning about how the human body functions. It intrigues me how well put together our whole body is and how we are able to self sufficiently compensate in times of stress (if all is normal).

Please describe any activities you are involved in at your school
I am actively involved in an organization called “Doctors for Christ” where last semester I was the Praise and Worship leader. We come together once a week to fellowship, pray and encourage one another through our medical school journey. I also volunteer for our campus health fairs that we hold for the local residents within the community.

How do you balance your personal time with medical school?
What personal time? LOL just kidding! I had to learn how to allow personal time in my schedule because I actually endured “burning out” and it was the most nonproductive experience ever. Since calling my family isn’t an easy option due to long distance charges, I have to find other things to do. Candy Crush was a very helpful remedy. I created time to attend a local church and spending time with the Lord in prayer has never failed me

Do you have any advice for students considering a career in medicine?
If you really have the passion for medicine take time to pray about your decision, research your options and literally surrender yourself to the journey that God Almighty will take you on. It may not be the one you planned on but If the Lord is with you, He will definitely see you through.

Thank you for sharing your story Stacy. Very inspiring!
Any questions for Stacy? Leave a comment below and she’ll get back to you.

Do also check out the other Med Student Spotlights!

When You’re Hoping for A Miracle

Category: Spiritual life – Musings

So I’ll be honest, I’m trusting God and hoping for a miracle during this application process. Considering the acceptance statistics – you can imagine why. Back in July, I came across Rick Warren’s “When you’re hoping for a miracle” devotion plan on YouVersion (the bible app) and thought to myself Perfect! Exactly what I need. The reading plan is a 17 day devotion that notes that though we can live for weeks without food, days without water, and seconds without air, we can’t live without hope! And yes God is still able to do a miracle in our lives. I completed the plan in August and felt really encouraged. So of course, I figured I’ld share it with you all. Here are some key take aways on each day:

Day 1: The path to miracle is through uncomfortable territory

“Miracles don’t happen when things are comfortable. Miracles happen when things are uncomfortable. Are you at a place right now in your life where things are a little uncomfortable — financially, emotionally, relationally, or physically? You’re a little nervous, a little on the edge, a little insecure. Congratulations. You’re on the path to a miracle!”

Day 2: Miracles always come from unexpected sources

“The source of a miracle will not be where you think it’s going to come from. It’s always unexpected. So what do you do when you’re on this road? You don’t fret. You don’t fear. You don’t try to figure it out. You just have faith. You trust God, and say, ‘I don’t know how God is going to do it, but He will do it.'”

Day 3: God provides on the way to the miracle

“Where God guides, God provides. The Bible says, ‘My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19 NIV).”

Day 4: Beware of pride and arrogance

“When you’re filled with pride, when you have the yeast of the Pharisees, guess what? You can’t see life clearly. When you are prideful, you can’t see what God is doing in your life.”

Day 5: Short term thinking keeps you from seeing clearly

“Whenever you’re thinking short-term, you can’t see what God is doing in your life. You can’t see his long-range plans for your character when you’re just thinking about your own comfort.”

Day 6: See others the way Jesus does

“Every person matters to God. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they’ve done or even what they believe. Christ died for them, Jesus loves them, God has a plan for their lives, and he wants them to have a relationship with him.”

Day 7: God will wait on you before the miracle

“God sees the problem, and he recognizes it. But he waits on you to get concerned and accept responsibility for it before he does anything about it. Worrying is the opposite of faith. It never solves anything. It only makes problems worse. God wants you to show him that you accept responsibility and want him to provide the miracle you need.”

Day 8: You’ve got to get Jesus in your boat

“Whatever you want God to bless, put him first. You want God to bless your time? You give him the first part of every day. You want God to bless your money? You give him the first 10 percent of your income, no matter how small it is. You want God to bless your job? You give him control, no matter how successful you are.”

Day 9: It’s often times hard for us to admit our way isn’t working because of pride, stubbornness, and fear

“Sometimes our best is not good enough, and sometimes there are situations that are out of our control. You can’t control the economy. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control a lot of things in life that will affect your life. You may have tried so hard but it just doesn’t seem to make any difference and you don’t have much to show for it.

What do you need to do? First, you need to get Jesus in your boat. In other words, let him be the center of your job. Second, you admit that your way isn’t working. The Bible calls it confession, and it can be tough.”

Day 10: God sympathizes with your struggle

“Jesus sees where you’re struggling, and he knows the storm you’re going through. God knows when you’re going through a storm. He notices, and he cares.

Day 11: Jesus Comes to You in Your Storm 

“Have you ever had a storm blow you off course? You had no intention of being where you are today in your job, your marriage, your finances. You’ve been blown off course by situations you couldn’t control.

You may feel abandoned right now, but you’re not. The Bible says in John 14:18, ‘I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm — I will come to you‘ (LB). You can count on it!”

Day 12: Jesus is praying for you 

“The Bible says no matter what you go through today, next week, or next year, Jesus is praying for you. He’s on your side.”

Day 13: You don’t need a plan, you need ‘I Am’ 

“When you’re going through a storm, remember that God is not distant, apathetic, or uninvolved. He is ‘I Am.’ And He will get you through the storm.”

Day 14: Five things to do in the middle of the storm

  1. Have courage, because Jesus is with you.
  2. Take a risk in faith.
  3. Stay focused on Jesus.
  4. Don’t doubt.
  5. Praise God.

Day 15: Put God first in your finances through tithing 

“Whatever you put God first in, that’s what he blesses.”

Day 16: Budget and know where you stand financially

“The Bible says, ‘By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established’ (Proverbs 24:3 NIV). You’re wise with your money when you know where it is, where it’s going, and where it’s coming from.”

Day 17: Don’t just get rid of your stuff. Sell It! 

“If you’re in debt and you can’t save and you can’t tithe and you can’t pay your taxes and you’re living on credit, you need to go through your things and ask, ‘What can we get rid of?’ But don’t just get rid of it. Sell it! It is one of the most practical steps you can take to getting out of debt and changing your financial mindset.”

***Excerpts from “When You’re Hoping For A Miracle” by Rick Warren