My name is Maria Christina Gitau and I am 17 years-old. I live in Nairobi, Kenya. I am in my senior year of school. I attend an all-girls school named Kianda School.
My ambition in life is to be at the service at the helpless in my community. I believe we all have a duty to give back to society which has in turn provided me with numerous opportunities that I sometimes take for granted. After volunteering at a local hospital and visiting children battling cancer, I knew it would be my goal to assist these children.
It is for this reason that I would like to become a pediatric oncologist. I know that becoming a doctor is not a very easy task. It is a long journey of study to become a good doctor. But I have confidence in myself to accomplish this. I recently also discovered my passion for technology and the wonderful things it can accomplish when properly utilized. I am therefore interested in pursuing a course in computer science.
But as I have learned through Mentoring in Medicine, life is a never-ending learning process. It is for that reason that I have decided to never limit myself and will pursue everything in my power in order to achieve my full potential. I hope that in the future I will be able to link these two passions and help my community.
Watching on her computer from Nairobi, Kenya, Mariah participated in our Online Science Discovery Camp on Wednesday, December 28, 2016. She designed the following Healthcare Career Poster:
Mariah also created this video to teach students how to become a Pediatric Oncologist.
Get Ahead! Use Your Summers Wisely!
According to studies, many students lose valuable knowledge and skills over the summer break. (1) Summer programs around the country provide academic opportunities and real world experiences. Many of them offer a stipend, room and board. The time to apply is now!
Outside of regular school activities, build your knowledge and experiences in health and science. (2) Summer is the perfect time!
Together let’s make a commitment to avoid any summer slide or “brain drain”. Let’s get ahead!*
Apply today! Below are some resources with upcoming deadlines.
Check our Resources Section frequently for more information:
Websites with Free Activities (K-8)
Summer Programs (K-12)
Summer Programs (High School Students)
Summer Programs for Undergraduate/Post-baccalaureate Students
*Mentoring in Medicine offers biomedical camps for groups of students in middle and high school. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
(1) McCombs, Jennifer Sloan, John F. Pane, Catherine H. Augustine, Heather L. Schwartz, Paco Martorell and Laura Zakaras. First Outcomes from the National Summer Learning Study. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2015. http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9819.html
(2) Rahmai, Neha. Five Ways Pre-med Students Can Spend the Summer. USA Today College. April 7, 2014. http://www.naahp.org/StudentResources/SummerOpportunities.aspx
On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, 300 physicians and medical students from across the United States convened one site of the MIM program, Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Prince Georges’ County, MD. Just over 250 students listened to the words of wisdom and lessons learned.
SAMPLE STUDENT TESTIMONIALS
“Success is not just what is in your head, but what is in your heart also. What drives you? What makes you push through the hard subjects and long days? Own where you come from and use that to remind yourself that you can make it. One doctor shared that “little bursts of miracles” that showed her what an impact her work make to people’s daily lives is what kept her going through chaotic days. Being determined is a great skill; it shows that there is something out there that you care about. I will remember these skills next time I take on a big task.
I wish every student had the opportunity to hear the presenters’ message. I look forward to applying these lessons of strong academics, perseverance and time management today and to participating in next year’s event–and being inspired again.”
—LW, 10th grade
“The information I obtained from the doctors was phenomenal and very useful! I felt so honored to be able to attend such a wonderful event. It was so amazing to see and meet some of the successful doctors from around the world. They were so kind and insightful. I would strongly recommend this program to anyone who has an interest in medicine.”
—MW, 11th grade
“I had the great opportunity to converse with numerous doctors and be educated on multiple topics. I was able to effortlessly list over twenty new things I learned. It was an amazing experience that I would love to do again. So many questions I had were answered. I learned that you have to take time for yourself, not be too concerned about money, and major and do what you are passionate about. I would recommend this experience to everyone whether or not you want to go into the medical field. It was an incredible, joyful and astounding. I have already told many friends about the great experience.”
–HS, 10th grade
The activity was featured in the article, Doctors Visit Flower High School, Offer Advice to Students, The Sentinel Newspaper, April 20, 2016, Candace Rojo Keyes
Okay, you have decided that a health professions career is your goal in life. You’ve begun your last years of high school and are looking for colleges that will support this goal. Right? Because where you attend college will have a huge impact on your ability to navigate the pre-med pathway.
What should you be looking for? One, the colleges you should be considering must have advisors dedicated to pre-med students; often schools will have an entire team of pre-professional advisors for students looking for pre-med, pre-law, and pre-engineering. There is no point looking at schools that do not provide these resources—you will need these specialists as you traverse the competitive road to medical, dental or other health professions programs. Two, you should explore these pre-professional offices and determine WHEN they begin to see students; will they see you as a freshman or do you have to wait until you’ve earned a certain number of credits? If you have to wait until later, are there other advisors in place to walk you through the college experience? Will you need a certain GPA before you can enter their hallowed offices? These are important questions and you may need to ask them directly…do not assume that this information will be readily available on a website. What else should you consider?
Finances! While your dream school may be College X, College Y may offer you a better financial aid package. Since health professions schools cost upwards of $200,000 and better, saving money at the undergraduate level is important! Does that mean you should not go to the more expensive school? Absolutely not! But you should plan on applying to many scholarship sources and applying to schools early enough to capture some of their financial aid. Look for scholarships through Apple, MacDonald’s, Clairol, and other scholarship sources. Find out how much your parents are willing and able to pay. While much of this will require a lot of effort on your part, the potential rewards are extraordinary!
Kinship! As you look at colleges you want to know that there are kindred spirits there on campus with you. Are there students who come from a similar community, from your ethnicity and culture, from your religious background? Whatever is important for you socially is what you want to be sure is available at your chosen college campus! Does this mean you should only go where all your friends are going? Of course not; but you do want to know that there are others there who will “get you”. There is no point going to a school in a small rural area with lots of kids who grew up on farms if you are someone who loves the sound of car horns, bright lights, and constant movement and noise. That said, you also do not want to attend a college that presents you with so many distractions you never truly feel able to relax and take in the intellectual challenges and opportunities presented. You have to know what is important to you and what you believe will give you the best chance of doing well academically.
Speaking of academics, what are you interested in studying? If you want to be a nurse, attend a college with a solid pre-nursing curriculum. If you want to be an engineer, make sure you apply to schools with such programs. If you want pre-med, check that the school has all of the science courses you will need—can you be a biology or chemistry major? Will you be able to take classes in public health? In health economics or business? Are there free tutoring services for students, especially for those in the sciences? Are you able to find research on campus? Is there an active pre-health club at your chosen college? Whatever your interests, make sure they are there at the school you wish to attend!
Also, do you want to be a big fish in a little pond, or would you rather be a small fish in a big pond? Do you like the idea that everyone on campus, including faculty and staff, will have a chance to know you personally? Or do you think that some anonymity would make you more comfortable? Would you like to be in a large lecture with several hundred other students, or would you prefer that after week two your faculty will know who you are and when you are in class? There is no wrong answer, but it is important that you know yourself well enough to answer these questions accurately and honestly.
Finally—remember that college is for learning; learning about yourself, learning about the world, and learning how to live and manage life away from your family and friends. It will be your responsibility to do well in your classes, to be able to discuss your unique situation with advisors and faculty, to make time for studying and for developing personal characteristics that will make you a better person. And most importantly, college is NOT a placeholder until professional school. This is a time to expand your intellectual interests, to develop critical thinking and writing skills, to master complex and sometimes uninteresting material. It is also a time to train yourself to be organized, to be better at prioritizing your time, and at making friends and acquaintances whose values and world outlook differ vastly from your own. Make good use of this time and you will see the rewards as you enter your career training!
Learn and enjoy life—be prepared to work hard and play little. Take time to constantly reevaluate your goals and your outlook. And always, always reach out to others; make use of all the resources your college will offer and take advantage of opportunities to make a positive impact on others.
About the Author
Lolita Wood-Hill has been in Pre-Health Advising for over 20 years. She was the premed advisor at City College of New York for many year, retired from Hunter College in 2010 and has been the Director of Pre-Health Advising at Yeshiva College since 2010. Ms. Wood-Hill has a BA in History from Boston College and a Masters in Urban Affairs from Hunter College.
She has received local and national acclaim. received both local and national acclaim. Special recognition for my work has come from several organizations, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Associated Medical Schools of NY (AMSNY) and the National Association of Medical Minority Educators, Inc (NAMME). I have also served on the governing boards of several local and national pre-health advising organizations, National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP and NEAAHP) and NAMME. Additionally, she has been a consultant to several non-profit organizations dedicated to making health professions careers more accessible to disadvantaged students.
The MIM Team would like to thank Ms. Wood-Hill for sharing her words of wisdom!
A leader in the fields of substance abuse and HIV, Dr. Primm was born in Williamson, West Virginia, on May 28, 1928. From an early age, he had a desire to be a doctor. He attended Lincoln University for two years, and later graduated from West Virginia State University. After many dedicated years in military service, Dr. Primm decided to apply to the University of Heidelberg, Germany, receiving his acceptance in 1953. After a year at Heidelberg, he transferred to University of Geneva, Switzerland, obtaining his M.D. in 1959.