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Advice for current Peace Corps volunteer

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by ndeyefatou, 04.21.12.

  1. ndeyefatou

    ndeyefatou

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    Hello everyone,

    I graduated from UCLA in 2010 with a BS in biology. My science GPA was low, like 2.5, so I was like whatever, forget about med school forever. August 2010 I flew out to Senegal, West Africa to volunteer as a sustainable agriculture extension agent for the Peace Corps. I also do a lot of cross-sector work with health and agroforestry, and I do it all in Wolof, the local language in my region. I'm about to leave in October, back to America, but I've changed a lot these past 2 years. I'm not the same person anymore. I had some personal problems while at UCLA that I don't want to discuss here. They deal with mental health, but now I'm getting help for that, years later. And I think this experience has helped me grow a lot also. It's been hard, but wonderful at the same time. I don't want to bore people with the details of my Senegalese life, but it's hard. I'm not talking about the dirt or the poverty or the lack of running water or electricity. What I'm talking about are the situations that I face in my everyday life, with angry Wolof people. Sometimes I do have wonderful experiences, though. But it's the hard things that have helped me grow as a person.

    Anyway, I just turned 25 last Friday, but you're never too old for med school. If I can get accepted and enroll by the time I'm 28, I'll be happy. But in the meanwhile, what advice do you guys have? I was thinking research as a job, if I can get a decent one with only a BS, but would that help me get into med school? I also want to do my own informal post-bacc in the meantime, like take UCLA extension classes, or even CSULA classes, but I think most med schools look down on Cal States. Maybe it's not meant to be, but if I can one day become a pediatrician, by the time I'm 40, and come back to Africa and help out, then that would be wonderful. I'm not done with development work.

    Be honest please. Be like the Wolof people, let me have it and tell me how it really is even if it's mean. I'm ashamed of my GPA. Maybe nothing will ever make it right. I don't care if a DO school is the only hope I have. I'll take what I can take. I'd be really happy for a DO, actually. I know it's tough.

    Side note: I'm also a minority, came to LA as an undocumented immigrant from Mexico with my mom when I was little. I worked at a lab at the UCLA Children's Hospital and I've done research with one of the UCLA med school professors, but it was nothing serious. I'm not published or anything.

    Thanks for any advice. I've been gone from America for too long. I never even have internet access so I'm grateful for this opportunity right now.

    Laura aka Ndeye Fatou Ndao in Senegal
  2. shamwowzer

    shamwowzer

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    If you're aiming for DO, you can retake classes to replace the grades that were hard on your GPA as an undergrad. There are some rules about what you can take, but assuming you got a couple Ds or worse it would allow you to sky rocket your GPA.

    If you really want it, you can make it happen by retaking classes and scoring 27+ on your MCAT (for DO).

    Sent from my DROID2 using Tapatalk
  3. dougfunnie

    dougfunnie

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    If someone actually says "hey but all those As you replaced with are from a CSU," you could always just say the UC tuition was higher and you needed to save money.
  4. littlealex

    littlealex little tiny alex

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    I agree w/ many of the above that DO and the grade replacement appears to be the way to go here. It's difficult for you to take enough classes to pull your GPA to a reasonable degree to be competitive for an MD school. Of course, it's still worth applying and you never know, especially given your interesting experience.

    Given your Peace Corp background, I think schools WANT to accept you but as of now they cannot be sure that you will be able to keep up in class. You need to take or retake some hard science classes and show that you can consistently get As. On the same note, rock the MCAT. A 35+ here will really help you out. Once you've shown with your track record that you can keep up in class I think you'll have a shot.
  5. TheKDizzle

    TheKDizzle

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    I would suggest researching schools that are lenient on their minimum GPA standards. Some schools out there won't even look at your application if you have below a X.XX GPA. That being said, you seem very well versed, mature, and determined to reach your goal. I think if you do a post-bacc and do reasonably well on the MCAT, some medical schools will appreciate what you bring to the table. Best of luck, and I'm sure your journey will end in becoming a doctor, whether it is MD or DO.
  6. DocAbroad

    DocAbroad Lifetime Donor

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    Have you thought about getting a MPH to help bring up your gpa? With your experiences and goals, a MPH seems perfect for you. If you can improve your gpa, and get a good score on the MCAT, you won't have any problems getting into medical school.
  7. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    BAD ADVICE.

    With a 2.5 gpa you need to prove that you have the academic talent to succeed in medical school. An MPH, which includes very little BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math: the scientific backbone of medical education), is not going to be reassuring to a medical school adcom.

    Shadow a DO and get a DO's letter of recommendation. Retake the science courses in which you had poor grades the first time and you can improve your gpa as far as osteopathic schools are concerned. Then prepare for the MCAT and take it after taking a number of practice tests.

    Apply to osteopathic schools after repairing your gpa and you may get some nibbles.
  8. ekjybeth

    ekjybeth

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    Finally something I'm an expert on. I am an RPCV with a low undergrad cumulative GPA from an Ivy (<3.0). I was a bio major before serving in the PC, but not pre-med. I worked in Burkina Faso, not in Wolof, but in its cousin Dioula.

    While serving in the PC I figured out a lot about myself, including that I had a strong desire to go into medicine but with my GPA I thought med school was a pipe dream. Even with a strong upward trend in my GPA, people with under a 3.0 just don't get in, right? Plus I was 26 and 3 years away from textbooks and english for that matter.

    I applied to my state school's post bac and was rejected. Then I decided to take a few (one was a retake) classes at the school anyway. Got the top grades in all classes. Made MCAT a priority and scored 33.

    Applied first year MD only. No acceptances.

    Applied second time MD and DO. Used my head about which schools really might want a non trad RPCV with kick ass language skills and a demonstrated dedication to service work. 4 acceptances this year, MD and DO.

    I'd love to talk to you more bout this. You can do it though! Du courage!

    Sent from my MB860 using SDN Mobile
  9. TheKDizzle

    TheKDizzle

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    Great story and congratulations on your multiple acceptances!
  10. Praefectus

    Praefectus MS-0

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    Focus your time on the MCAT. If you can rock it, that'll be an interesting number for adcoms to look at.
  11. ndeyefatou

    ndeyefatou

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    Thanks for you advice, it means a lot, especially right now since I'm having a hard time. Please keep the advice coming if you have anything else to say. But for when I go back in October, research sounds like a good job while I apply to post-baccs, right? If a post-bacc is what I want, anyway.

    I don't have a blog, and I know this isn't the place to do this, but just to vent though, if you're ever in Senegal, don't ever call your host brother who's a rapist, a rapist to his face. I found out he tried raping someone the other day (his 16 year old niece, he's like 35), of course no consequences for him though, he just sits all days and gossips while his older brother in the US sends him money ever month. Anyway, he has sexually harassed me before and he has stolen money from me, so of course I'm going to call him out! Back then though, my host family said that he was "just kidding." But now, a year after he gave me all those problems, I get kicked out of the village because his dad (the village chief) and his mom, (both are my host parents) think I'm rude bc I called my host bro a son of a b****. But it wasn't rude when he harassed me. So now they want to take me to the police. The Peace Corps admin will fix everything, I'll prob even go back to my village since I have 6 months left and everyone calmed down except for my host mom. In Senegal, it's not okay for a woman to stand up for herself, but then again, I think that's how most Muslim countries work.

    America sucks sometimes, but be thankful you don't have to deal with this type of nonsense.
  12. DocAbroad

    DocAbroad Lifetime Donor

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    MPH programs come in all different flavors. Some are more focused on systems and management, and others on epidemiology (with advanced biostatistics and math courses) or infectious disease (with upper level microbiology courses). Granted there might not be much physics or chemistry, but MPH courses can fall under the biology and math components of BCPM.

    That being said, a post-bac program might be the best for you anyways.

    And if you rock the MCAT, you'll definitely get some second looks. My science gpa wasn't that great (about 3.3), but my MCAT score helped get me in to medical school.
  13. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    The majority of the courses taken toward an MPH, even one focused on biostatistics, will not be classified as BCPM. I know this because I see applications every year from people who are in or who have graduated from MPH programs.

    An MPH program is not a good option for someone who needs gpa repair.
  14. newtothezoo

    newtothezoo

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    Wow, what a ridiculously loaded statement. I am currently a pcv, and have served in 2 Catholic countries with the exact same situation. Domestic abuse, sexual relationships between students and teachers for grades, rampant infidelity, and rape. I would never say, "that's how most catholic countries work."
  15. ndeyefatou

    ndeyefatou

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    Don't compare my experience to your experiences. I thought every PCV knew no 2 experiences are alike. I'm a minority female in an African country. For all I know, you're a white male in some country in Latin America. Latina America is way more developed than Africa. Who knows, but the point is don't compare your experiences to mine. I'm an atheist. It's not like I'm taking sides. I'm jus saying, in a country like Senegal, men can rape women without going to jail, women can't drive, and they can't go outside without a man by their side. It's one of the 5 main pillars or whatever for muslims, a woman has to treat her husband well or she's going to hell. And he better get 4 wives and treat them like **** bc women aren't worth **** in Senegal.

    If you don't have any empathy for me or advice, fine then, just keep it to yourself. I asked for advice and I vented a little and some person who's never been to Senegal
    bitches me out. You may be a PCV, but you know nothing about the world.
  16. TheKDizzle

    TheKDizzle

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    To be fair, he was criticizing your generalization about "Muslim countries," not your statements about Senegal in particular, for which you have firsthand experience.
  17. ndeyefatou

    ndeyefatou

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    First of all, Senegal is one of the most liberal Muslim countries in the world, and it's still screwed up. Women have more rights here than in other Muslim countries. None of you have read Half the Sky by Kristof and WunDunn. Chapter 9: Is Islam Misogynistic? None of you have read Three Cups of Tea either. You don't have to believe everything you read, but unless you've ever lived in an Muslim country, I think you're just rude to put down all those women who live in polygamy with their jerk husbands. Women get treated like **** everywhere, even in America, but it's worse in some places because of cultural values. I won't respond to this anymore. Even in Catholic countries, SOME rapists go to prison, but not in Senegal. Saudi Arabia is 1000 worse than Senegal. Americans are so caught up in their own little bubble. They don't know anything about the world around them. Even other PCVs in other countries, apparently, think predominantly Catholic and Muslim countries must be the same. Exactly alike.

    Africans are poor and the kids are starving. It's a lot more than that! But you don't know unless you've been here. Thanks to the people who provided real advice. I'm done and I'll individually message people who I actually found helpful. I actually found everyone helpful, except for the "PCV from 2 countries." I'm not sure if you actually extended a 3rd year in a different country or if your first country program closed and you don't really understand any culture because of your lack of time spent in any country. Don't insult my experience as a PCV, because as you can hopefully see, that hurts.
    Last edited: 05.03.12
  18. TheKDizzle

    TheKDizzle

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    Are condescending statements like this really necessary? I'm sure many people on this forum, including me, have read both of these books. Some of us, such as myself, have also spent time in similar countries. We understand that you're frustrated, but you're coming off with a high tone of arrogance here as well. Hopefully you don't bring this with you to your application cycle. Good luck.
  19. ndeyefatou

    ndeyefatou

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    Well then, I guess next time my host brother forces himself onto me again and the PC and the police don't do anything, I'll just act like NO BIG DEAL too. I'm hurt right now, and it's really no one's business, but that's why I'm coming off as arrogant. Next time someone in your host family in any country tries to rape your friend, or even accomplishes it, and no one does anything about it, then I hope you'd be pissed off too and hurt instead of acting like everything is fine and dandy because you only hear about it, read about it, maybe even see it, but you don't have to experience it so you don't know what it's like. So yes, in that sense, I'm arrogant.

    The Imam's son sexually harassed me and no one did anything. Don't act like an ass either when you don't know what someone is going through. I really don't think any of that was your business but there it is. Attack me. Blame the victim if you feel like it. I've heard about the 20/20 special
    on the PC and all the rapes and murders. Would you attack those women? I would hope not, so don't attack me. My story wasn't even meant to be shared with you. I really do think that in a catholic country, even a really corrupt one, my host brother would be locked up already, but nothing will happen to him here.
    Last edited: 05.03.12
  20. chiddler

    chiddler

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    what the hell...

    all s/he is saying is don't generalize!
  21. ndeyefatou

    ndeyefatou

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    I really don't think any of you have lived out in the bush in a Muslim
    country for 2 years, so all I have are MY experiences. I don't care what u have to say. U visited Egypt for a month on vacation? Oh really? I don't care. I'm never coming back to read this thread. People say Americans are nosy know it alls n
    know nothing about the real world. Not to generalize, bc that pisses people off, unlike rape, but yeah, I think so.
  22. TheKDizzle

    TheKDizzle

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    Honestly, you're not making a great case for yourself as an American, either. I'm sorry you feel this way.
  23. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness

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    1) What is your cumulative GPA?

    2) Are you a United States Citizen now?

    3) If you have some time to read through a long thread, a great source for advice is the Low GPA thread in the Post-Bac forum on SDN. It helped me figure out how to weasel my way into medical school with only a 2.8, it can help you. There are several possible routes to your goal.

    4) For future reference, the next time you want to nation build in the Muslim world I think these guys are a better organization that the Peace Corps
    Last edited: 05.03.12
  24. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness

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