Life after college

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.


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!


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

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!

Book Review: “Choosing God’s Best” By Dr. Don Raunikar

Category: Spiritual life – Musings

Hey hey!! It’s been a while and there are definitely LOTS of updates and writing to do – on coaching my first high school cross country team, my med school app process, and more. As I mentioned in a previous post, waiting for interview invites and decisions can be downright awful…but exciting at the same time. PAUSE. Okay, “awful” is too strong a word, but it really is a test of patience. So alas, I’ve been keeping busy. I just finished reading “Choosing God’s Best” by Dr. Don Rauniker, and figured hey, why not do a video review (AKA the lazy man approach haha). The book talks about dating versus courtship, what Christian singles should be doing to prepare themselves for marriage, what they should be looking for in a partner, and so on. The book was recommended to me by a friend last year, but sat on my shelf until 2 weeks ago. Check out my review and let me know your thoughts. Ciao!

Just Call Me Coach D!

Nothing shapes your life more than the commitments you choose to make. Your commitments can develop you or they can destroy you,
but either way, they will define you.

Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

This is another post on my gap year chronicles. I did mention it was full of adventures right? Check out my post on “Teaching My First College Seminar” and “My Interview with” for more details. This brings me to my latest adventure.

I was recently offered a position as a high school cross country coach!

I’m still kinda like whoa on this because it’s just wow, unexpected. I mean when I sent in my resume, it still didn’t seem like a possibility. I mean I’m just a year and a half out of college, why would they hire lil ole me? And even if I got hired, I figured ehh, probably an assistant coach. False. Not only was I offered the position after my interview, but I’m not an assistant coach, but the head boys and girls coach. Um whattt?? Yea all I can say is God is good!!

I’m super excited for this because:

One: I get to work with kids again – Yay! I worked with middle and high school students during undergrad, so I’m excited to be in that environment again.

Two: Fitness! I’m pretty sure it’s clear I’m passionate about this so I’m definitely excited to get my students active.

Three: Nurturing resilience. I always compare long distance running to life. There are many obstacles (i.e. beastly hills!), high moments, low moments, times when you just want to stop and give up, but still, you just have to keep plugging ahead. Just keep moving. I’m looking forward to nurturing this attitude of grit and resilience in my students.

This was my first week, and alas, it looks like I have my work cut out for me! Still, I’m excited – the kids are great and are willing to work, which is AWESOME. Plus, I now have something to look forward to after work (not that the research life isn’t interesting, but this is a nice change of pace).

That’s all for now. Ciao!

My Interview with

Blogging is turning out to be a really interesting experience, I embrace it all. I was recently interviewed by, an admissions consultancy. Although I am not utilizing any consulting services for my application process, their website does have useful tips and advice to guide applicants. In my interview, I discuss my premed journey, my gap year, my current medical school application cycle, and my lovely blog. I also offer some advice – please learn from my mistakes! Do check out the interview HERE 

(Click image to go the link)

Thank you to Sarah Pritzker for the interview and opportunity to share my story. 


Lessons on Cultural Competency: The Nod

I recently stumbled on Dr. Kimberly Manning’s blog “Reflections of a Grady Doctor” and found this gem. She recently had her article “The Nod” published in The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA)  – the July 9, 2014 issue. The Nod is a reflection on a common “black-on-black acknowledgment usually given in situations where only a few other black people are sprinkled through an environment together.” This article really resonated with me because:

(1) I find that I do, “the nod” almost every day at work, often when passing another black person in the hallway. I noticed it so much so, that I recently began thinking, when did this become a habit? I don’t remember doing this so much.

(2) I love that Dr. Manning chose to turn her student’s observations of the nod into a teachable moment – a lesson on cultural competency.

She was asked to do an author reading of her piece. So here is Dr. Manning’s “The Nod”

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Click to listen to audio 

Click here to read article – You may need a subscription to JAMA or institutional access

Key points: 

“There are still many situations where it’s easy to feel either invisible or like that speck of pepper. Given that truth, ‘the nod’ is really just this subtle way of saying to that other lone face in the room or in that group what others’ actions sometimes neglect to say: “I see you.” Even if someone else doesn’t, see you and you aren’t invisible.”

“Creating space to give each other these metaphorical nods breaks down barriers and, as health care professionals, ultimately helps us better relate to our patients and to each other.”

 You can check out Dr. Kimberly Manning’s blog here:


Well hello stranger.

It has been months…scratch that, almost A YEAR, since the last time I wrote here. Apologies for the absence. I write in a private journal frequently, which makes it easy to neglect this blog. I promise to do better!

There are so many updates! Updates on my job, life after college, the med school journey, and my fitness/ start-up business. So here we go:

Med school journey

Drum roll please….I submitted my app!!! Praise be to God! The AMCAS application opened up for submission on June 3rd at 9:30 AM, and I submitted on June 3rd at 11:38 AM. I was playing NO games! My application hasn’t been processed yet however, because they are still waiting on one more transcript, but yes my part is done for now.

The journey to get to that submission point was a bit stressful, I’ll confess. I started working on my application the day it opened up. That was May 1st. I completed my first draft on May 15th and then began working on my personal statement. With my personal statement, I was confident in my writing skills but it took a while to get my story polished and presentable. I literally worked on that statement everyday until June 2nd. I ended up with 10 drafts. I also had about 11 people read it. Yes, I know doing the MOST. Not all 11 individuals provided feedback though. The most helpful people were my two mentors (one a doctor, one who just graduated med school), two friends of mine in med school, my parents, two of my closest friends, and a friend of mine who blogs for the NY Times. I feel really blessed to have such remarkable people to help me with this. Their guidance really helped me create a personal statement that I felt proud to submit. I must admit though, my story is quite unique as well. I’ll talk about my AMCAS application in future posts. Look out for it.

My job

As I mentioned in previous posts, I work as a Research Coordinator. It’s been almost 10 months now, and I love my job just as much as I did the first day- if not MORE. I’ve worked on so many diverse projects and learned so much in this short amount of time. This experience is really everything I expected the position to be. I’m definitely more informed on pertinent issues relating to health disparities (particularly access to health care and quality of care) which is very relevant considering my interest in obtaining a masters in public health. All in all, so far so good 🙂

Life after college

The struggle to make new friends was REAL. Many lonely moments but things turned around sometime after the new year. I threw myself into activities I was passionate about- fitness, acting and singing. I’ll talk about the fitness part below. Acting and singing were both activities I got involved with at my church. I was part of the drama ministry in my church while I was in college, so when I moved back to the city, I went right back to it. Singing however, was a new adventure. I joined the choir ministry in March and it’s been such a blessing. Besides those three things, I also checked out okcupid (don’t judge Lol) and really tried to get out and be more social. The transition from college to real world, can be a tough one when you’re separated from your friends, but it gets better with time 🙂


So I realized I haven’t talked about my passion for fitness on here, which is surprising considering how much of a big part of my life it is. Just a brief background though, I was student-athlete up until the first semester of my sophomore year in college. I ran for the women’s track team and cross country. After leaving the sport however, I still continued to nurture my love for fitness. I did three body building contest and continued my gym life style. Earlier this year, I decided to create something new: Fitandfine_withdee. It’s my social media page on instagram that promotes fitness and nutrition. Click here to view it: Fitandfine_withdee. I also created an Afrobeat workout video that received over 1400+ hits on YouTube. Wild right? I’ve got some other things in the works and I’m very excited to see how this project blossoms.

On that note, let me leave you with my workout video. Get your fit on and let me know what you think. Ciao!