Dismiss Notice
SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

Never give up. Ever. A message of hope.

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by ttac, Dec 11, 2001.

  1. ttac

    ttac Trust me, it's still fun.

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
    Messages:
    671
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    My story

    After three long years of applying, I was finally accepted to an MD school, in the US, yesterday. I can't put into words the feelings that I had when I opened the envelope and realized what it was saying. My cumulative undergrad gpa was 2.78. Not 3.78, but 2.78. And that was including the A's that I got taking college classes when I was a high school senior, and my post-bac classes as well. At one point in my undergraduate education, I had an absolutely horrible semester and was put on academic probation, getting a 1.25 gpa, and on two occasions I was in danger of losing my ROTC scholarship.

    I can't tell you how many people told me over the years that I would never be a doctor, and that I should give up now, and save myself the time and money. I never listened to them, or let that get to me, but I admit that there were several times when I became discouraged and did not want to put aside another 2000$ to apply, year after year. Still, I kept at it, hoping against hope that some day, I would become a doctor.

    To be fair, I had the following things going my way:

    1. I had 5 really strong (as far as I can tell, having waived my rights to see them) letters of recommendation.
    2. Part of the reason for my atrocious gpa was that I was fascinated with learning about everything, and when I discovered Linux, and the computer system, I pushed everything else aside and threw myself into learning the Unix OS, shell and perl scripts.
    3. I worked in a lab ever since I graduated, and I had 2 co-author publications in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as co-authorship of 3 poster abstracts presented at conferences, and an acknowledgement in another JBC paper and a Nature paper.
    4. I attended a top-1 (arguably :) ) undergraduate college, and my grades had a strong upward trend, ending with 3 semesters of post-bac work where I had a ~3.8 gpa.
    5. I participated in Army ROTC throughout college to earn 80% of tuition, often 20 hours per week, and in addition I worked during a couple of semesters of college.
    6. I am an Army officer (combat engineer platoon leader) in the National Guard, and graduated 2nd out of my class at Engineer Officer Basic Course (which included 40 West Point officers, and 20 other active duty lieutenants)
    7. I graduated from the Sapper Leader Course (basically the Army Engineer corps version of Ranger School (but in deference to the Rangers I knew, not quite as bad)) which was the toughest thing I ever did in my life. Combine a liberal dose of poison ivy, frequent hunger (I went from 150lbs to 135), carrying 70 pounds of gear everywhere, horrendous physical fitness ‘smoke-sessions' led by either Ranger or Special Forces personnel, and sleep deprivation to the point of hallucinations, and then being called upon to lead and motivate your peers at any time, and you get the idea.
    8. I took the MCAT, once in '96, and got a 10V, 14P, 10B, N, and then, since my scores expired, took it again in '99 and got a 10V, 13P, 14B, R.
    9. I had volunteered in high school in the local hospital, and then again last year in the ER of the local VA hospital.
    10. I was (am) active in the local alumni club, and interviewed high school students applying to my alma mater.
    11. I know, given the recent events and my military background, ad-com members may have subconsciously viewed my application more favorably.
    12. After graduating in '97, I finally took a long, hard look at myself, screwed my head on straight, realized that I had no one to blame for my past failures except myself, and vowed to do whatever it took to become a great doctor.

    Looking back on my undergraduate and post-bac days, I am profoundly grateful, and deeply moved by those people that believed in me and gave me second, and third chances to mature, and redeem myself. I am very, very thankful for being able to start with a clean slate, and I feel grateful to the school that took a chance on me. I will work my butt off in medical school to excel and become the best doctor that I can be.

    I know that there are others out there on SDN that are in similar situations with low gpa's, and while I realistically I think there may be the rare ‘lost cause', I truly believe that in most cases, if you never quit (and I mean, NEVER GIVE UP!), you will get in. When I was in Sapper School, droning from lack of sleep, hungry, cold, and wet, somewhere in the middle of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, the instructors would tell us "Don't quit on yourself, Sapper!", and that got me through Sapper school, and this med school application process.

    SDN has given me a wealth of advice (albeit as a lurker), and I consider myself lucky to be able to learn from the experiences of everyone here, the vast majority of whom seem to be genuinely compassionate people. I know that there are some of you that truly want to do medicine more than anything else in the world, but due to past problems, feel like you won't be accepted. Don't ever give up. Ever. Nothing is ever over until the moment you stop trying.

    If there is any help/advice that I can offer from my application experiences, please ask.

    FYI, I am not a URM. I am actually an asian male from California, and I applied to 15 schools, filled out 12 secondaries, and have had 4 interviews, including one UC school.
     
  2. Thread continues after this sponsor message. SDN Members do not see this ad.

  3. Amy B

    Amy B I miss my son so much
    Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2000
    Messages:
    4,304
    Likes Received:
    3
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Welcome from your status as a lurker to a poster.

    As to your story... It was quite inspirational and touching. You sound like you have really worked hard to achieve your dream and I wish you all the best in medical school next fall.
     
  4. Hopkins2010

    Hopkins2010 Banned
    Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 1999
    Messages:
    1,709
    Likes Received:
    1
    Great story I'm glad it had a happy ending for you.

    Just curious, where are you planning on going to school?
     
  5. TTAC - Congratulations on your acceptance to medical school! You had some really awesome things go your way. :)
     
  6. FrankMD

    FrankMD Ophthalmologist Wanna Be

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2001
    Messages:
    169
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field]
    wow...great story...I would have accepted you on the spot...

    congratulations!!!
     
  7. grettlin

    grettlin Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2001
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi ttac,
    I feel encouraged to read your post, thanks.
    Though, I have several questions and hope you could give me some opinions.
    First, I am an immigrant to US 5 years ago. In this way, I got my bachelor from foreign country (Taiwan). Then, I went to USC major in computer science and graduated in 2000. Now, I am taking pre-med courses at Cal State Fullerton. My question is if my foreign bachelor degree can fulfill the requirement of med school? Do you have any idea that an immigrant like my situation is accept to med school?
    Second, although I had taken GRE before, I still worry about the Verbal part of MCAT. According to my experience at GRE, I think it is no difference if English is your native language. Is the situation the same in MCAT?

    Again, congraduations!
     
  8. vixen

    vixen I like members

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2000
    Messages:
    5,760
    Likes Received:
    1
    ttac,

    congratulations...it looks like your hard work paid off...must feel good. It's always good to hear stories of people who believed in themselves...guess it must really work :)
    good luck :)
     
  9. DesperatelySeekingMD

    DesperatelySeekingMD Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2001
    Messages:
    123
    Likes Received:
    5
    Truly amazing...congratulations and good luck!
     
  10. abefroman

    abefroman Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2001
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0
    It's ridiculous that you had to apply twice without getting in. Your MCAT scores and exceptional experiences should have demonstrated that your GPA was not representative of your ability. Congratulations!
     
  11. USeF

    USeF sunny L.A.

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2001
    Messages:
    901
    Likes Received:
    2
    One of the perks of going to medical school is to have classmates like yourself. People that overcome true adversity and remained steadfast in the process despite advice to the contrary.

    Congrats, and welcome to the class of 2006!
     
  12. leorl

    Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2001
    Messages:
    5,559
    Likes Received:
    12
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Congrats!!!! Ya know, probably 1/2 the applicants aren't as qualified as you in life-experiences. Quite amazing, actually, you've accomplished a hell of a lot! wow! So where are you going to school? :)
     
  13. loverboy

    loverboy Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hello, Brother ttac...
    My situation is little different but I'm in the same boat. I came from india 8 years ago, I couldn't speak 1 full sentence without hasitating or thinking twice. however, i always wanted to be doctor. I started in juniour college, and then transfered my self in UC davis. i did my degree in psychology emphasis in Bio. I also volunteered ant sexual assault domestic violence center for year and worked 4 nites a week, supporting my self, not to mention I'm married. in addition I hosted radio show for 2 years..My point here is I did some extracurricullum stuff but am no where close to your achivements..I couldn't got involved with rotc. But if you can write me or advice me..the problem here is I graduated from davis with 3.20 in psychology, and starting my BA in bioscience after mcats .... this april, I'm just too worried I don't have real good gpa and on top of that don't have reall valuable extracurriculum activities like peace corps or army service etc. If you can write me back and let me what else should I do..or what schools will really prefer in my case. I'm fluent in couple other languages except english but i did ok in upper division english..but mcats will tell me the whole story about my language barrier . But please take some time out and advice me..about what is out there for me or what should I do in addition ot doing good in mcats. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Ciardeme

    Ciardeme Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2001
    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    12
    ttac, congratulations on a job well done. Success seems all the more sweet when you have worked so hard for it, doesn't it? The best of luck to you. ;)
     
  15. ttac

    ttac Trust me, it's still fun.

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
    Messages:
    671
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Thank you everyone for your kind words...I'll never forget how fortunate I have been to have so many things go my way.

    As far as where I am going next year, I still don't know. I still haven't heard back from some interviews, so if I am lucky enough to get into more schools, I'll have to do some serious research on all the factors for each school before I decide.

    grettlin: I admit that I haven't really researched your question on the foreign bachelor degree, so rather than feign knowledge and give an answer, I'll just admit that I don't know. Was your degree at USC an undergrad CS degree or graduate?
    For the verbal part of the MCAT, to be honest, personally, it was really difficult for me to do well. I am a native speaker and I studied alot for it, but couldn't improve much, so I concentrated on working on the sciences. I am always really impressed by non-native speakers that can get 10+ on the verbal.

    abefroman: I think part of the reason for my applying 3 times was that this year my application was stronger than even last year; 3 of the publications and 2 posters abstracts came into print this cycle, I attended Sapper School, which really changed me, I did my VA volunteer work, I applied earlier, and to a different set of schools.

    loverboy: I don't think it really matters whether you did specific EC's (such as ROTC) or not, just that you really got involved into them. There are lots of other EC's that are equally (or more) 'valuable' than military experience. You just need to excel in whatever interests you.

    I know that my mcat's really validated my application. My story (re: mcats): I took Kaplan in college, but didn't really go to many of the classes, or study that much, so I didn't really get much out of the course. Then, when I had to take it again in '99, I got my hands on every mcat book I could (Barron's: tough practice tests... I got alot lower on those than the real one, Flowers/Silvers: alot of mistakes, but good material, Betz: too much information, but ok, Kaplan: Good for basic info) I was also fortunate to have taken some grad classes (postbac) in bio that really helped me understand some of the more advanced bio topics. For example, I had a passage on G-proteins, that I had just learned about in cell/molec pharm class. For the physics part of it, I _highly_ recommend "Understanding Physics" by Isaac Asimov. It looks a little intimidating (~1000 pages) but the pages are small and Asimov gives really really good examples that help you truly understand the material. Plus, only about 300 pages are relevant, and it's a fast read. I borrowed it from the local public library for a couple of months. There actually aren't many equations in that book, but the examples are very intuitive.

    As for the overall application: I think if one's gpa is low, then you really need something that helps you stand out, otherwise I don't think your app gets a second look. I am almost positive that that is what helped my app: I can contribute a little bit of diversity to a medical school class.
    Even if your EC's aren't really unusual, I think it's still important to really try to get the most out of each one.

    For example, for hospital volunteer work, really try to get into your work. I started out re-stocking trays of IV's/etc, but I really wasn't that worried about "getting into trouble" and so I basically tried to be nosy and see what was going on elsewhere in the ER. I think I learned alot more by doing that. It's true that 'the squeaky wheel gets the grease'. I also think that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission :) (a lesson that my time in the Army helped me learn.) If you think you're doing the right thing, but you're not absolutely sure, as long as it's not a life-or-death situation, I say "just go for it!" you'll probably be right anyway. If you're wrong, at least you took action.

    For research, I think it goes without saying that publications really lend credence to your time in the lab. I was really fortunate to work in an environment where I was given the leeway and my input was valued enough to have a significant hand in the course of my research projects. For my first publication, I actually was in a really tough situation: I was working solely for one person, but I had alot of experience in one type of experiment that another post-doc needed to do to publish his work. Well, this post-doc told me that if I would do the experiments, my name would go on the paper. When I asked my boss if I could do them for him, let's just say that she wasn't very receptive to idea. I _really_ _really_ _really_ wanted to get published, and my boss was un-yielding, so my only option was to 'volunteer' my time to work on the post-doc's project, and I ended up working an extra 10-15 hours a week doing these experiments. FYI: The Surgeon General has warned that working an extra 3 hours per day can have a seriously adverse effect on one's social life; however, I _really_ wanted to be published, so I bit the bullet, and did it. I'm still happy that I did.

    I'm sorry that I can't really offer any 'magic bullets' for getting into med school. I don't really think that there are any. I know that I had some lucky breaks in my past, and for that I am grateful. I think ad-com members are receptive to the fact that people change over time, but to get them to take a chance on you, you really have to have changed from your past, and you had better have some hard evidence to prove it.


    Best of luck with your applications,

    -ttac (third times a charm :) )
     
  16. Thread continues after this sponsor message. SDN Members do not see this ad.

  17. theoffice11

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2012
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Thank you so much for the inspiration! Hopefully I can gain admission into a medical school with perseverance and passion :)
     
    #15 theoffice11, Jul 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  18. TheShaker

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    2,674
    Likes Received:
    796
    This thread was made 11 years ago. :eek:
     
  19. Verum

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    434
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Did you notice the thread start date? Is the OP even alive?
     
  20. ucsfstudents

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    Messages:
    738
    Likes Received:
    12
    Status:
    Medical Student
    This is old post. But inspiring nonetheless. As the old saying goes, quitters never win and winners never quit.
     
  21. Gut Shot

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2003
    Messages:
    6,526
    Likes Received:
    104
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Probably. I received my acceptance 10 months and 10 days prior to the original post, and I'm still here despite ample intervening liver damage.
     
  22. WorldChanger36

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Messages:
    2,952
    Likes Received:
    575
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I doubt they care at this point.
     
  23. 235788

    235788 God Complex

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Messages:
    5,368
    Likes Received:
    13
    Status:
    Medical Student

    yeah.... times are much different.
     
  24. ttac

    ttac Trust me, it's still fun.

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
    Messages:
    671
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Wow.
    What a blast from the past... haven't posted or read SDN in forever, but got a pm today which was sent to my email address... so I am back.

    Well, just a quick update... currently working as an EM attending (just got off a night shift) and really happy with my choice to go into EM. After med school I went to a 3 year residency, then volunteered to go into the Army (not HPSP/FAP or anything, so no obligation) due to my Army background... served active duty for a couple of years, knowing that I would get deployed to Afghanistan... served as an EM doc there for 6 months, was a very, very meaningful experience.

    I knew, when I volunteered to join the Army I wanted to do it for just 2 years and then get out, so, after a couple of years, I did. I now work as a contractor and am loving life... I decided to take it easy so I chose to do locum tenens for a bit... now I am working half-time out of choice. It sure is nice working like 6 shifts a month then being off for a month at a time :D
    Still addicted to traveling (35+ countries), snowboarding (rode 29 days last season) and mountain biking...

    ttac
    (off to sleep, working again tonight)
     
  25. Verum

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    434
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    http://*********************/instances/400x/20063059.jpg

    Anyways, I wish you a prosperous career.
     
  26. GeorgiadisMD

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Wow that is amazing! I hope that one day I will be able to look back at what I wrote, and say "Mission Accomplished"
     
  27. Miss Terious

    Miss Terious Keyblade Master

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2012
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    This is a truly inspiring story. Good job,Doctor :)

    Sent from my phone! Blame it on the a-a-autocorrect.
     
  28. xoxx

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    11
    Never in my life have I seen a thread with a follow up 10 years later...
    :eek::eek::eek:
     
  29. change your status ttac

    it's always awesome when op delivers.
     
  30. Camy99

    Classifieds Approved

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    643
    Likes Received:
    6
    Status:
    Medical Student
    :rofl:

    Jalby 2.0?
     
  31. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness
    Physician

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    7,638
    Likes Received:
    3,112
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    That's pretty cool.
     
    #29 Perrotfish, Jul 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
  32. david199380

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2011
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    This is great. I love these success stories. I wish you all the best.
     
  33. Hemorrage

    Hemorrage Ambrose
    Bronze Donor Classifieds Approved

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
    Messages:
    1,570
    Likes Received:
    232
    Status:
    Medical Student
    congrats OP! The one thing i just don't understand about these situations is how you survived financially all these years. Did you get married along the way? How did you pay for your post-bac? etc.
     
  34. ttac

    ttac Trust me, it's still fun.

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
    Messages:
    671
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Thanks everyone for your comments, and good luck to anyone who is trying the 'non-traditional' route to med school.

    Actually when I was taking the postbac I was working fulltime as well in a lab... so that was my source of income. Also I didn't do a formal postbac, but more of a "choose your own adventure" type, where I decided what classes I wanted to take. As I was working in a lab, it was mainly graduate level bio classes in that field, but I also took a few other upper-division classes that I was interested in. The cost for that post bac was pretty reasonable, and I even got my work to pay for some of the classes since they were directly related to my field of research.

    ttac
    p.s. this thread really was a blast from the past, and I have already put a reminder in my google calendar to come back and post again on SDN on July 6, 2022... :D
     
    #32 ttac, Jul 5, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
  35. 911 Turbo

    911 Turbo med student
    Classifieds Approved

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    2,627
    Likes Received:
    354
    Status:
    Medical Student
    HOLY crap... nothing like reading a time machine thread. You must have been feeling really fulfilled while reading your original post today.

    Makes me wonder where I will be in 10 years.
     

Share This Page