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!

Secondaries: Lessons Learned

Let’s talk secondaries. Earlier in the summer, when I initially wrote about my plan to tackle secondaries, I was determined to utilize all the Do’s and Don’ts I had gathered.

My goal: To make sure it was as stress-free as possible.

I’ve been done with them for quite some time now, so this post is definitely overdue. Here are five lessons I learned from writing secondaries:

1. Each school is unique in its approach to fulfilling its mission

I repeat, each school is unique. Don’t believe otherwise. Sure when you read the mission, it may appear to be very similar to the previous school you just read up on, HOWEVER, once you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover the unique programs the school has to offer. And yes, I’ll argue that each school has something unique and when you discover what it is, it’s like Aha! Definitely mention it in your secondary. You find this out by doing your research – their website, their Facebook page, their twitter and other outlets.

2. It’s a tango between showing what you have to offer and what they have to offer

Finding the balance is key. When I wrote my first secondary and had a friend read it, she gave me this key piece of advice:

 “When describing your interests in a school – try to strike a balance between talking about yourself/ interests/ attributes i.e what you can bring to the table with what the school can bring to you. It’s a 2 way relationship if that makes sense.

I thought I did that but she noted that I was falling into the trap of regurgitating information about the school as I researched them.  This is no bueno, it’s important to talk about how you will enhance those features you like about the school. This key piece of advice early on in my process was immensely beneficial.

3. You shouldn’t rush a masterpiece. Slowly get it done

rushingThis one seems like common sense, but depending on your schedule, there may be some pressure to get those secondaries done ASAP. That’s fine BUT don’t sacrifice quality in that process. Personally, I never wrote and submitted on the same day. I usually waited at least a day to look it over again and make sure I caught all mistakes and was pleased with the final product. I definitely caught some mistakes utilizing that approach.

4. Deadlines make it all feasible

deadlineRemember my two week turn around plan for secondaries? I stuck to it! Because I had my two week deadlines written in my excel sheet, I was well aware of when I wanted to submit my secondaries; I could slowly work on each of them versus rushing to get it all done in one day. Again, everyone has a different schedule. I work full-time and I am involved in a host of other things, so the deadlines I established as I received the secondaries were immensely helpful. If I hadn’t set this game plan in the beginning, I’m sure I would have felt a lot more overwhelmed.

5. Have someone read it. Seriously. 

Shout out to my mom for this. She read a lot of my secondaries, provided constructive feedback, and helped me catch the silly mistakes. She’s not a doctor and really doesn’t know anything about the application process except from what I tell her, but her input on my secondaries was incredibly helpful. A second pair of eyes is VERY helpful. This could be a friend of yours in med school, a friend who’s an English major, or like me, a parent. My application process has been a family experience – essentially they’re all applying with me (and I feel blessed to have that family support!), so naturally, they were my second pair of eyes.

Did you learn some lessons as well? Leave a comment and share them below!

A Dose of Encouragement

As mentioned in a previous post, writing is one of the strategies I use to manage stress. It allows me to release the emotions I am feeling and reflect on the situation at hand. Last summer, I spent the entire 3-4 months self studying for my first MCAT exam. I moved back home to rural Pennsylvania and was indoors majority of that summer. This was the first time since the summer going into 8th grade, that I did not work/ have a job – not exaggerating. I was fresh out of college, slightly nervous about my future and applying to numerous full-time positions as well. As you can imagine, it was a stressful period. Studying for the MCAT can take a toll on you mentally. My solution?

Writing motivational messages to myself. 

Yes, I am not kidding. Sometimes you have to encourage yourself, and that’s precisely what I did. I forgot about these notes (which were written on my phone) until today. I write in this app quite often, so it’s easy for some notes to get forgotten – that is, till I go looking for them.

I figured I’ld share these motivational messages with you all. They are all original, all written by me, and as you can see by the dates, unedited.

I hope you all get encouraged as you continue to study for the MCAT, write secondaries, prepare for interviews, and pursue your personal goals. That said, here is a dose of encouragement:

july 17 13

july 17

july 19

july 19 134

july 19 13

july 21

july 29 13

aug 4 13

aug 10 13

9 21 13

 Thanks for reading ladies and gents. Ciao!