By Emily Ghena
Biology Major, Honors College
If you had an opportunity to thrust your future career forward, wouldn’t you take it in a heartbeat? If you were given the chance to spend two days in one of the most beautiful cities in the country, wouldn’t you grab it while you can? If you had been blessed enough to speak with and learn from professionals that you aspire to be like, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?
Brianna Samonte, Zack Merhavy and I were given that opportunity last fall. Thanks to Alpha Chi National Honors Society at Grand Canyon University, all three of us were sponsored to travel to Seattle, Washington to attend the Minority Student Medical School Career Fair hosted by American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). Along with attending the conference all day Saturday, we were able to explore Downtown Seattle, enjoying Pike’s Place Market and the waterfront. On top of that, we even had the privilege to stay at the Grand Hyatt, a five-star hotel.
During the Minority Student Medical Career Fair, we learned the most relevant information on how to prepare for medical school as a competitive applicant, how to finance medical school and even how to maximize pre-health opportunities. Some of these opportunities include Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF), Financial Aid Programs (FAP) and Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) website.
We were even able to learn from esteemed healthcare professionals during four separate inspirational panels. Speakers shared priceless information about their academic and professional journeys. Their tangible advice was targeted toward underrepresented minority groups pursing medical degrees and encouraged us in our personal academic path. Their advice was from the context of how to overcome obstacles on the journey to becoming a doctor.
After a morning of speaker panels and information sessions, we were able to sit down and eat lunch with current medical students representing various medical schools from across the country. This intimate setting gave us the opportunity to ask current medical school students questions about the rigors of the application process, preparing for the MCAT and impressing an admissions committee during an interview. Lunch was especially helpful since we received unadulterated responses about the medical school experience from an honest student perspective.
Junior honors student Zackary Merhavy, who is currently pursuing a pre-medicine degree in hopes of gaining entrance into a reputable MD/PhD program, reflected on the experience: “This was the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity to talk with an actual MD/PhD student about their experiences, from the application process to their research experience and what medical school has been like. She was able to tell me everything from a fresh student perspective, which really strengthened and solidified my desire to pursue this program. It was an opportunity like no other!”
Along with our networking lunch, we attended a Minority Student Medical Career Fair in the afternoon. The fair was inundated with tables representing nearly 150 medical schools, including prestigious universities across the country such as Mayo, Johns Hopkins and Harvard. Even the deans of admissions and diversity inclusion coordinators attended the booths for various institutions.
Brianna Samonte had the opportunity to meet several deans of admissions and admissions representatives from various California schools (her hometown) such as UCI, UCLA, USC and UCSF, and ask important questions about what they look for in their applicants; what it is about their schools that allows them to consistently mold well-educated and empathetic doctors; and what she should do to give her the highest probability of being a future medical student.
Brianna said, “This experience provided me with a valuable networking opportunity, which allowed me to make connections and gain advice from professionals who are critical to my entrance into medical school after graduation from GCU. I am beyond blessed and thankful for this amazing and unique experience.”
Thank you to Alpha Chi National Honors Society at Grand Canyon University for sponsoring each of us and making this possible. From this experience, each of us now possesses valuable insight from various medical school admissions departments and current medical students. With this insight, we are more than willing to help other pre-medicine students looking for guidance, advice or information about the admissions process for professional health degrees!
The Honors College at GCU offers opportunities for bright and ambitious students to achieve their goals. Learn more by visiting our website or contacting us using the green Request More Information button at the top of the page.
More about Emily Ghena:
Emily Ghena is a junior majoring in biology with an emphasis in pre-dentistry and a minor in entrepreneurial studies. Emily has dedicated herself to the Honors College, serving as the College of Science, Engineering and Technology liaison, developing the Honors STEMists organization and serving as a peer mentor to fellow biology majors. She also is on the Honors Club board as the secretary. Emily even serves the GCU AZ Health Occupations Student Association (AzHOSA) as a chair for the academic excellence strategy area. Emily plans to attend dental school with goals to one day open up her own general dentistry private practice.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.