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Successful Applicants—Medicine

Profiles of Successful Applicants to Medical School

 

2024 Matriculants


Name: Shadman Kazi
Major: Special Honors, Biochemistry, and Economics
Minor: N/A
Overall GPA: 3.84
Graduation Year: 2023
Matriculation Year: 2024

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: What drew me to medicine is the empathy, transparency, and ability to connect with patients and their families. I want to be a resource for other patients to trust and confide in.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I volunteered in the Emergency Department at NYP-Weill Cornell, was part of the Heart at Hunter club, performed research with Dr. Matsui, and worked part time as a Quality Manager for a high school tutoring center.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 10 hours per week usually.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I did not use a test prep course but focused on UWorld, Anki and Kaplan prep books.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took a gap year to enhance my clinical experience and have more direct patient interaction, while giving myself enough time to work on my application and not feel rushed.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to programs in and out of New York but primarily on the East Coast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre- Health office helped me revise and enhance my application to create a clear narrative that represents me and my goals along with helping me prepare for medical school interviews.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Some advice I have is to definitely write your essays and activity descriptions well in advance of applying and do research on the schools you want to go to and prepare for interviews as much as possible. Pre- writing my application materials gave me a lot of time for other things to do along with getting a better and deeper researched look into different medical school programs earlier on and not rushing as a result.


Headshot: Brandy Chen

Name: Bandy Chen
Major: Nutrition and Food Science
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.77
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2024

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: University of California San Diego MD/PhD Program

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: The combination of medicine and basic science research will allow me to advance translational research to both prevent and treat prevalent diseases such as obesity and neurodegeneration.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: General Chemistry TA, Hunter College
Biochemistry TA, Hunter College
Medical Scribe, CityMD Urgent Care
Patient Companion Volunteer, Maimonides Medical Center
Clinical Intern, General Surgery, Maimonides Medical Center
Student Shadow, Maimonides Medical Center
Undergraduate Researcher, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Research Technician, Weill Cornell Medical College
Research Technician, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Postgraduate Research Associate, Yale School of Medicine

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Around 20 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No. I self-studied.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, to explore different fields of basic science research to determine whether academia is a route that I want to pursue. I also sought to develop skillsets that can translate into my graduate studies.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Extensive clinical and basic science experiences, and strong recommendation letters

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: They were effective in keeping me on track.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Visualize your application as a story, connecting every piece for the reader to easily understand.


 

2023 Matriculants


Headshot: [Applicant Name]

Name: Sophio Kirimlishvili
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 4.0
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Harvard Medical School

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: The desire to combine my scientific curiosity with the passion for putting that curiosity into a good use. I’ve always known that I get immeasurable fulfillment from interacting with people and forming long-lasting, meaningful relationships. As a physician, I can do exactly that while satisfying my intellectual curiosities and positively transforming my patients’ health.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I volunteered in a primary clinic setting, which validated my decision to pursue medicine. I was also very passionate about teaching/mentoring because of my own wonderful teachers, so I volunteered as a PHMI mentor, SAT tutor, General Chemistry TA, and finally worked as a Biology Lab TA at Hunter. More recently, I was heavily involved in basic science research – full-time for two years.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Around 20 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I self-studied for the MCAT.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took two gap years because I wanted to pursue research full-time. Also, I wanted to avoid studying for the MCAT and writing the medical school application while still in school.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I think the strength of my application is my story and how I conveyed it. The passions I wrote about in the essays were backed up by my activities. For example, I had a special interest in immunology since early college years; thus, both my research positions were immunology related. This helped tremendously with interviewing – because these passions were very apparent in the application. The interviewers easily tailored questions to let me speak enthusiastically about my interests, which made for great conversations.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied widely, including a few schools on the West Coast and in the Midwest, but the majority of the schools on my application were in the Northeast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-health office kept me organized all throughout my journey but especially during the application cycle. Having the internal deadlines for personal statement drafts, certain essay prompts, as well as secondary essays was instrumental in keeping me on top of the cycle.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Even when you feel that achieving your personal career goals is impossible, just stubbornly believe that it is possible and keep working. Don’t participate in activities to check boxes – you won’t have a good time and mentors/supervisors will easily tell that too. Follow your passions but be very proactive with seeking out opportunities. Talk to people! Get to know your professors, go to their office hours, ask them questions, ask them for advice… many doors open when you have the right network. Finally, don’t be afraid of taking gap years, whether to strengthen your application or to pursue your passions. As a result, you’ll grow as a person and will feel more ready to begin medical school.


Headshot: Eli Feldman

Name: Eli Feldman
Major: Biology- Behavioral Neurobiology
Overall GPA: 4.0
Graduation Year: 2022
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I was initially drawn to medicine because of personal and family experiences in healthcare. As I explored this interest, I saw the impact of physicians in supporting patients through very intimate moments, in forging bonds of trust that allow patients to share their unique situations with confidence that their doctors will go above and beyond to help them. I was inspired to become a physician who advocates for his patients and ensures they receive the high-quality care they deserve.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Clinical: physician shadowing, medical scribe at a community clinic, volunteering at Hospital for Special Surgery

Non-clinical: food pantry volunteer at Urban Outreach Center, volunteer dog walking through PAWS NY, Crisis Textline Volunteer, Pre-Health Mentor, Hunter College Senate committee member, Hunter Hillel Board Member

Research: performed biology research at Hunter College; conducted COVID literature reviews

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Around 25 hours per week

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I self-studied for a few months. I used UWorld to reinforce content and AAMC and Blueprint for practice exams. I periodically reviewed terms and figures on UWorld through the site’s virtual notebook and flashcards. I aimed for one full-length exam a week and made sure to review every question and every answer choice – even if I answered correctly.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes: I wanted an extra year to work on my application, study for the MCAT, and take some time for myself. Having this time to expand on my volunteer and clinical work led to more meaningful experiences that emphasize why I want to be a physician, making application writing and interviewing more purposeful. It was also important to me to have a “break” between college and medical school.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe my long-term volunteer and research experiences shined through the most – through both the letters of recommendation and extensive experiences to discuss when applying.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to 18 schools in the Northeast, 3 schools in the Midwest, and 2 in California.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: From my first year at Hunter, the Pre-Health Listserv was an invaluable tool to find volunteer and research experiences. Meeting with the advisors every semester since freshman year for advice and making sure I was on track was also important. I cannot thank Kemile and Nina enough for all their support with my application: from submitting the application, to interview prep and writing support; they have been incredibly helpful and I would not be going to medical school without them.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Use all the resources you have! Between the Pre-Health Office, your professors, tutoring centers, mentoring initiatives, and your fellow classmates, you have so many opportunities for success. Find out what you’re passionate about, both within and outside medicine, and seek more experiences in those areas. These experiences will not only be more enjoyable, but your true passion will shine through when discussing them on an application and interviews. These activities won’t feel like marking off a checklist and will make your pre-med years more purposeful. And write your essays early! Give yourself time to really think about what you want to say and organize these thoughts on paper. Have a few people take a look before you submit, giving yourself some time for edits in between drafts. Submitting your secondary applications early will only help you!


Headshot: Milisia Fam

Name: Milisia Fam
Major: Biological Sciences
Major:German
Overall GPA: 3.88
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Weill Cornell Medicine

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Seeing my father’s journey in the healthcare profession (from a surgeon in Egypt to an RN here) was definitely a big influence in my choice to pursue medicine. Also, biology was always my favorite subject, and I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career that involved biology. Although I love research, I found that I gravitated more towards patient care, which ultimately led me to my path to medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  • Research Intern – Motor Recovery Research Laboratory, NYU Langone
  • Sinai Research Associate – Mount Sinai Hospital
  • CARE Volunteer – Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Congestive Heart Failure Volunteer – NYP Brooklyn-Methodist Hospital
  • Clinical Intern – Bariatric Surgery, NYP Brooklyn-Methodist Hospital
  • General Biology – Tutor and Supplemental Instructor, Skirball Science Learning Center at Hunter

 

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: On average, I studied about 6 hours/day on weekdays and 8 hours/day on weekends. It definitely varied though depending on my workload and which courses I was taking.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I did sign-up for the Princeton review course, however, I mostly self-studied using the material provided through their platform as well as the AAMC practice exams and UWorld.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I did! I mostly wanted the time to work with my degree and get more research experience. I also loved teaching, so I chose to work as a biology lab TA at Hunter. Further, I felt better about taking my time to study for the MCAT and prepare a strong application.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I am very proud of my personal statement and secondary essays. They took a long time to prepare and edit, but I feel that they definitely provided a genuine reflection of who I am and how I want to pursue my career as a physician.

I am also proud of my work/experiences section. The advice that I received was to follow a “show” rather than “tell” format, and I had a lot of eyes look through them to make sure that I was conveying my feelings about what I did rather than just listing them.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, I applied to a lot of schools in New York and the Northeast, but I also applied to some in the Midwest and West.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The pre-health office was really helpful in preparing my application in advance so that I was not rushing through each step. The feedback I received on my application and practice interviews was also helpful in crafting a well-thought-out application.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Definitely do NOT stress too much! Pre-med is very stressful already so try to not add more pressure onto yourself and seek support from your friends and family. Also, I would say do not try to mold yourself into the “perfect applicant.” Be open to the different paths to medicine and try to spend your time on experiences that you are passionate about rather than what you should be doing!


Headshot: Leon Sarpong

Name: Leon Sarpong
Major: Biology with Bioinformatics concentration
Major:Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.7
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: UCSF School of Medicine

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: The main inspiration to pursue medicine came from a dramatic medical event that took place in my childhood. From there, my interest in science developed, and I became fascinated by the human body and its various mechanisms. My shadowing experiences, and specifically the patient stories, concretized my passion.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I took part in multiple research experiences at Mount Sinai, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Weill Cornell, and UCSF. I volunteered in the emergency room at MSK, and with a pediatrician. At Hunter, I was a student senator, and an RA at the Brookdale dorms. I also interned in the office of Senator Brad Hoylman, and in Region 2 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I spent around 20 hours a week studying but this increased during exam weeks and especially during finals.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I did not use a test prep course. My MCAT preparation consisted of many different materials. These included Khan Academy Videos, the Kaplan book set, UWorld, Anki, Blueprint MCAT practice exams, and the AAMC practice materials. I set up a study schedule allotting time for content review and practice. My main advice is to practice as much as possible, meaning do tons of practice questions, especially right after you learn a new topic.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I knew early in college that I wanted to take a gap year in order to have a break between college and medical school. During my junior year, the COVID pandemic hit, which effectively extended my timeline to two gap years. A lot of this had to do with the lack of clinical experiences one could pursue at the height of the pandemic. During my gap years, I studied for and took the MCAT, volunteered at a doctor’s office, and took part in an internship in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: A lot of my interviewers commented on my strong research and interesting extracurriculars. I took part in three summer research programs and did research at Weill Cornell during the semester. In my junior year, I became interested in public/health policy, and did an internship with a NYS politician. That and my internship at the Department of Health and Human services were frequent topics of discussion.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to schools mostly in the Northeast, but I also applied to some schools in the Midwest and the West coast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office was extremely helpful in helping me achieve my goals. First, I received the support of the committee letter. The committee letter requirements ensure that you will be a very strong applicant by the time you apply. Furthermore, the support you get through the application process is phenomenal. The office met with me to go through my personal statement, and my activity descriptions. This help cannot be understated. Even very competitive applicants can falter in the process due to uncompelling writing. Lastly, I received a lot of help through the interview process with mock interviews, which are crucial to make sure you have a great interview on the big day.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: The medical school application process is very long and requires a lot of organization. I used Google sheets to organize my courses (made a map for all 4 years), letters of recommendation and teacher evaluations, and for my applications and secondaries. Without staying organized, I would not have been able to meet all of the requirements and deadlines. Despite the process being long, it is important to never lose sight of your goals. I remember coming home from the lab where I had been pipetting for the last four hours, only to have RA duty, and a test coming up as well. In these stressful moments, it is important to remember why you are pursuing this career, and know that hard work will get you through. Good luck, y’all got this!!!


Headshot: Monique Vilme

Name: Monique Vilme
Major: Human Biology (Body, Health, and Mind Concentration) B.A.
Minor: Japanese Studies
Overall GPA: 3.90
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Duke University School of Medicine

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: While I do have relatives who are healthcare professionals, my only exposure as a child to a physician was in a clinic and so growing up, I was very removed from medicine. For a long time, I thought I would become a lawyer because the people around encouraged me to pursue the law. It was not until high school that I started to consider pursuing medicine after joining the Women in Science club.

Medicine is a highly competitive field that requires multiple years of educational commitment and financial investment. The decision to start the journey to become a physician is not one that should be taken lightly. However, all of my personal and professional experiences have led me to this career. Medicine is the only career where the interests I hold intersect and I will have the opportunity to directly influence people on the interpersonal to societal level. As a physician, I want to continue my scientific problem solving and combine this with my humanistic work serving others, my teaching work, and my desire to advocate for those who have traditionally been underserved in healthcare.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  • Community Volunteer – National Black Leadership Commission on Health
  • Project Intern – BELLE Project, NYU Langone Health
  • Child Life Volunteer – New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell
  • Volunteer – The Microbe Directory at Weill Cornell
  • Mentor and Ambassador – Hunter Pre Health-Mentoring Initiative
  • General Chemistry Tutor – Skirball Science Learning Center at Hunter
  • Medical Assistant to Primary Care Provider
  • Shadowing – Resistant Hypertension Specialist
  • Research Assistant Intern – PEERS ED Sleep Study, NYU Langone Health
  • Mentor – S.P.A.R.K!

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: On average, I would say I dedicated at least 25 hours of studying for my courses per week. I tried not to study for too long every day because after a while I would get burned out and the information wouldn’t stick so it’s important if you are dedicating any time to studying that it is productive study time.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No. I self-studied using the free resources through the Pre-Health emails, YouTube, Princeton review book pack (which came with practice exams), AAMC’s sample exams, and the UWorld free trial.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I did! I was really nervous about spending the rest of my 20s in school without having dedicated time to explore my other academic interests and passions. I love Japanese culture and history, so I took a gap year to work as an Assistant Language Teacher through the JET Program in Japan. I loved it so much that I decided to spend a second year there and apply to medical school while abroad.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I would definitely say that my ability to coherently present my journey and myself through my narrative, writing, and interviews was a significant strength. I would like to thank Nina for alerting me in my freshman year how crucial it is to set yourself up well in the future by putting purpose and intention behind all of your experiences. I would also say that many schools and interviewers found a lot of interest in my experience in Japan and it more often than not took up a large portion of my interviews.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes. I applied to a lot of schools in NY and the rest of the Northeastern region of the United States but also in the Midwest and West coast. I wanted to apply to schools where I could be close to my family or schools where I would be willing to move due to the competitiveness of their program.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Undoubtedly. The Pre-Health Advising Office was crucial for the success of my application. From their advice and perspective during my undergraduate years at Hunter College to their oversight during my medical school application cycle, I believe I would not have had multiple interviews and acceptances without them. Specifically, I would like to thank both Kemile and Nina for being so patient and understanding of the time difference during my medical school application cycle. Early morning mock interviews and phone calls were essential in maintaining my sanity and focus.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: I cannot emphasize how important it is that you don’t limit yourself when pursuing a path in the pre-health field. Do not shut the door on yourself! It can be especially difficult when you occupy spaces where you feel as though you are not adequately represented. Make sure to remind yourself of all you have accomplished at every step and know that the position you are in is not only one you have earned but one that is especially for you.


Headshot: Adriana Kaganovski

Name: Adriana Kaganovski
Major: Chemistry (Concentration in Biochemistry)
Overall GPA: 4.00
Graduation Year: 2023
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: From a young age, I was exposed to my mother’s textbooks while she was in nursing school, which sparked my curiosity in the medical field. However, it wasn’t until I volunteered at a local hospital in high school that I truly fell in love with medicine. Every experience after that which allowed me to connect with diverse communities, both clinically and non clinically, reaffirmed my dedication to serving others and advocating for increased access to healthcare for the most vulnerable populations.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: President of the American Red Cross Hunter Club, President of the American Chemistry Society- Hunter Chapter, Hunter Pre-Health Mentoring Initiative mentor, General Chemistry Peer Teaching Assistant, Undergraduate Researcher at the Alexandratos Lab at Hunter College, Undergraduate Researcher at the Mason Lab at Weill Cornell, National Logistical/ Administrative Manager of the University Blood Initiative, Metagenomics Virtual Training Assistant Mentor at MILRD, Oncology Patient Service Administration Volunteer at Weill Cornell Medical Center, Medical Scribe at Advanced Medical of Grand Central.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: During semesters with especially challenging courses, approximately 25 hours per week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I relied predominantly on Blueprint instructional videos to learn and relearn MCAT content.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: No, I did not take a gap year.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My long term commitment to activities I was passionate about, namely my research at the Mason and Alexandratos Labs, volunteer work with the American Red Cross, and position as a medical scribe.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No, I applied entirely in the Northeast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: From the very beginning, the Pre-Health Advising Office helped me understand what went into becoming a successful applicant. The Committee Letter application process ensured that my application essays could be worked on and perfected long before the application cycle officially began. Kemile Jackon was extremely helpful in going over application materials and gave helpful advice throughout the cycle.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: While it's important to make sure you stay organized and on top of your goals, it's also important to celebrate small milestones along the way such as landing your first research position or being promoted to a leadership role. Be kind to yourself and remember to lean on your support system when necessary.


Headshot: [Applicant Name]

Name: Samuel Mordechaev
Major: Human Biology
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.96
Graduation Year: 2022
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: New York Medical College

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: With my passions for biology and helping people in mind, medicine stood out to me as a perfect culmination of the two.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: My most notable extracurricular activities included working as a medical assistant at an ophthalmology clinic, a Direct Support Professional for an individual with disabilities, and a research intern at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. I also supported the Pre- Health community at Hunter College by being a mentor for the Pre Health Mentoring Initiative, a TA for the Chemistry Department, a writer for the Pre Health Diaries, and more.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: On average, I spent about 35 hours studying per week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No. For the MCAT, I studied individually using Kaplan workbooks. However, I would recommend a test prep course if you are the kind of person who needs the structure of a course.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: No, I did not take a gap year.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Aside from a strong academic transcript, I was fortunate to have made lasting connections with instructors, clinicians, and researchers that led to great recommendation letters in support of my application. Additionally, having an overarching narrative throughout my personal statement and experiences helped me present a more focused and personal desire to pursue medicine.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I mostly applied in the Northeast, with few exceptions (Florida and Tennessee).

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office’s workshops were integral to my understanding of the various deadlines and requirements necessary for applying and interviewing. Through individual meetings and file reviews, the Office also provided me with constructive criticism and personalized advice that tremendously enhanced my candidacy for admission.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Anything is possible and don’t be afraid to show who you really are in your applications. I also strongly encourage applicants to reach out to upperclassmen such as myself for any questions or concerns they have about applying. Believe me when I say we are more than happy to impart the wisdom we have been so lucky to have gained from both the Pre-Health Advising Office and our personal experiences thus far.


Headshot: [Applicant Name]

Name: Kevin Kemelmakher
Major: Biology
Minor: Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.85
Graduation Year: 2022
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Osteopathic medicine places a greater emphasis on a person’s overall wellbeing rather than working to alleviate symptoms. Its emphasis on the mind-body connection is one that allows me to combine my interests in psych/neuro with biology and health. Through clinical work with DO doctors at a pain management clinic I was able to witness the incorporation of osteopathic manipulative treatment into diagnosis and treatment; it was here that I confirmed my desire to enter the osteopathic medical field. Osteopathic medicine’s additional emphasis on preventative care also appeals to me. I see myself entering primary care and would love to incorporate the values emphasized by DOs into the way I practice medicine. The body is capable of self-healing, self-regulation, health maintenance. It is my goal to help patients not only alleviate symptoms but also access resources (social, economic, nutrition) for instance, that can in turn improve their health outcomes.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  • Community engagement intern at Hunter Hillel
  • Secretary of the FSU (Former Soviet Union) club at Hunter Hillel
  • Volunteer for NYU CDI's free SAT Prep program
  • PHMI mentor (Pre-health mentoring initiative) at Hunter College
  • Math Tutor at Mathnasium

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Roughly 20 hours per week, depending on the courses I was taking at the time.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I started my initial studying of MCAT material with the Princeton review MCAT prep course. The course provided a great overall review of general concepts, and taught me great test taking strategies. While the course was helpful as an intro, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the difficulty of the real exam. Through additional AAMC prep materials, as well as materials purchased from Blueprint, I was able to improve my scores on diagnostic exams.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: My decision to take a gap year was primarily the result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which limited clinical opportunities for students due to hospitals not wanting to risk additional infection. While I was able to conduct research during my final two years of college, I realized that I wanted more clinical experience. Working with patients in a medical setting for the past year has prepared me for medical school by helping me improve my communication skills as well as nurturing compassion and patience.

During my gap year, I expanded my clinical experiences through work at Unique Pain Medicine as a medical assistant. In this role, I interacted with patients, noting their vital signs and acquiring past medical history. As a medical assistant I worked alongside MD and DO doctors, scribing and assisting in ultrasound and fluoroscopy guided procedures. This experience has already proven to be informative, illuminating the vulnerability and humanity of patients, and teaching me how to empathetically respond to and support them. I specifically chose to work at a pain management clinic to expand the types of medicine I have been exposed to thus far.

Through my work here, I witnessed various neck, spinal cord, knee and hip injuries, helping a doctor curate a pain treatment plan consisting of physical therapy, steroidal injections, and other minimally invasive procedures. My work here also exposed me to the unique and diverse population of NYC. At our Coney Island and Midtown locations, I interacted with disadvantaged patients seeking pain relief and was able to serve my own community through Russian translation. While my main goal for my gap year was to expand my medical knowledge and clinical experience, I was additionally able to continue to conduct research at the Rockefeller University, resulting in a publication. Lastly, a gap year offered me the opportunity to take a break from a rigorous academic environment to recharge. A trip to Costa Rica allowed me to put myself out of my comfort zone, practice my Spanish skills through meeting new people, and engage with a culture different from my own.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe the strengths in my application involved the wide range of volunteering, extracurriculars, clinical experiences, research (both clinical and laboratory setting) that I was able to complete. While GPA and MCAT scores do play a role in your acceptances, your unique experiences are what differentiate you from other applicants who often have similar stats to yours.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to 30 medical programs, both MD and DO nationally.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The pre-health advising office helped me realize my goals by helping me work through my personal statement and primary application submission. Through writing, re-writing, and even more re-writing, we were able to accurately summarize who I am, my achievements and future goals in my application.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Every student’s timeline for applying and attending medical school will be different. Focus on meeting the goals you set for yourself, try not to compare yourself to those around you. A unique set of factors has shaped who you are and your experiences.


Headshot: [Applicant Name]

Name: Emily Guzzardi
Major: Biology
Minor: Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.845
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My father is a physician and my mother is a nurse practitioner. Growing up, I would often go to work with my father. I saw the way he interacted with patients, how his patients trusted him and how grateful they were for him. I saw myself in this role in the future. So my initial interest in medicine was through a more humanistic lens inspired by my parents.

In high school, I became more interested in the scientific component of medicine after discovering I loved biology. So in college, I assumed I would follow the pre-med path but was initially hesitant to fully commit to a career in medicine. I was so intimidated by the fact that as a physician you have your patients' lives in your hands. Before I fully committed to a career in medicine, I wanted to make absolutely sure that this was the path for me. I needed to be confident that not only was I passionate about medicine but also that I saw I had potential and could make a difference.

Throughout college I immersed myself in clinical experiences and research experiences to learn more about myself. Though I enjoyed research, I found I gravitated more toward my clinical experiences because of the patients. I had many conversations with patients; some lighthearted and funny others, were deep and emotional. Either way, I enjoyed these genuine moments and was moved by how much the patients appreciated talking to me.

I became completely confident that medicine was the career for me after talking with patients. I want to provide compassionate care and have a career filled with genuine moments and conversations like I experienced in my clinical extracurriculars.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I spent a lot of time working at MSK. During two years of undergrad, I was a part time research intern in a lab. I returned to the same lab as a full time research technician for my two gap years. I took part in the MSK SCORE program where I conducted clinical research and was able to shadow many physicians.

Another one of the most meaningful experiences I had was with the CARE program in Mount Sinai’s ER where I met many patients and had great clinical exposure.

A few of the non-clinical experiences I had include outreach work with the Rogosin Institute and volunteering with Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: During the week, I would probably study around 6 hours or so a day. On weekends, since I wasn’t in class, I would probably study around 8 hours a day.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I took the MCAT twice. The first time, I did use a prep course, but I didn’t find it helpful. I found it was more passive learning.

The second time, I found a study strategy that worked for me so I’ll talk about that. I gave myself around five months to study; 4 months where I had specific study aims then one month extra in case I ran into areas where I needed to spend more time. I designated the first month for just content and used the Kaplan books and the Khan Academy Psychology/Sociology doc. The second month I moved on to questions using third party materials. I used Jack Westin for CARS and UWORLD. If I could study for the MCAT again, I would honestly move away from the Kaplan books sooner and just focus on UWORLD for both content and questions. The third month, I spent doing AAMC question banks and third party full lengths. The last month I spent doing one AAMC full length a week then reviewing it all.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took two gap years. I needed more time to study for the MCAT and I also wanted to further my research experience that was cut short due to the pandemic. I’m glad I took the extra time, it allowed me to really focus on my primary and secondary applications and properly prepare for interviews.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I am very proud of my personal statement. I took a very long time to write but it genuinely represents who I am and illustrates why I’m confident about my choice to pursue medicine.

I am also proud of the writing in my work and experience sections and secondary essays. I had a lot of eyes look them over and one of the most helpful pieces of advice I received was show over tell. I found that when I was writing originally about my experiences, I often just dictated what I did in a resume like tone. Through the editing process, I tried to shift to illustrating certain aspects of my experiences, what they meant to me, and how they influenced my decision to pursue medicine.

To prepare for interviews I kind of did the same thing. I wrote a doc where I made bullet points about my experiences where I highlighted why they were important and meaningful to me and what I took away from them. On interviews, I found that the questions I was asked were more open ended and you can really answer them any way you want, so it was helpful to have practice knowing what I wanted to highlight about myself.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, with a focus on the Northeast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: I would not have been able to get into medical school if it weren’t for them! They really help you plan out your application in advance so you have everything all ready to submit to AMCAS once it opens up. The feedback I received on my application and my practice interviews was also invaluable.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: I have two pieces of advice. First, Don’t stress too much! Being pre-med is very stressful already so don’t add more pressure on yourself! Work hard and instead of trying to become the “perfect applicant” take classes and do activities that you are passionate about and then you’ll end up right where you need to be. Second, the experiences that you fill your application with are only half of it. How you package and present yourself is equally as important. Definitely spend a lot of time thinking about your experiences and their significance to you and your decision to pursue medicine before you write your application and go on interviews.


Headshot: Karen Ebenezer

Name: Karen Ebenezer
Major:
Undergraduate Majors in Biological Sciences and
Classical Studies, Graduate Major in Biotechnology
(at Hunter College), Graduate Major in Biomedical Sciences (at Rutgers University, School of
Graduate Studies
)
Overall GPA:
3.47 (Hunter College), 3.88 (Rutgers University)
Graduation Year:
2019 (Hunter College), 2022 (Rutgers University)
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: A combination of life-changing volunteering experiences in New York City hospitals, excellent mentorship from physicians, a strong desire for a challenging and fulfilling career in clinical service, and a love for human biology.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Thomas Hunter Honors Scholar, Yalow Scholar in Pre-medical Sciences, John P. McNulty Scholar (for Women in STEM), Solomon Bluhm Scholar for Excellence in Classics, Member of Eta Sigma Phi (National Classics Honor Society) Staff Writer for Hunter College publication “The Envoy,” contributor to “The Olive Tree Review,” Member of CircleK.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: If I was not working, I spent about 30 hours/week studying.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I took the Princeton Review MCAT Test Prep course as a sophomore, but ended up getting a competitive score after self-studying during my gap years using UWorld resources and the AAMC’s many online study tools.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took three gap years. I wanted to bolster my application with more clinical and translational research experience, and I obtained that first at the Yale School of Medicine and then at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. I then felt ready to go back to school to pursue a special master’s program to strengthen my GPA, and attended the Rutgers University, School of Graduate Studies one-year SMP while applying to medical schools.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My considerable research experience and publications, as well as my letters of recommendation, which were specially mentioned by both my interviewer and the Dean of the medical school.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No, I only applied to Rutgers NJMS as an early decision applicant.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The office, and specifically Kemile Jackson, were absolutely instrumental to achieving my goal of entering medical school. Before seeking the advice of the Pre-Health Office, I was inclined to endure the pre-med path alone, which was something that many of my pre-med peers at the time did as well. The Pre-Health Office and Kemile have years of hard-won experience, incredible empathy, and staunch commitment to the success of their advisees. Young sophomores and juniors in college who are unaccustomed to the slings and arrows of the medical school process would do well to accept the advice of the Pre-health office. I highly advise all students to maintain regular, professional contact with the Pre-health office, and to remain respectful and humble in the face of this challenging process.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Keep going.


Headshot: [Applicant Name]

Name: Pam Leybengrub
Major: Biology
Minor: Business Certificate
Overall GPA: 3.99
Graduation Year: 2022
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Volunteering at my father’s pharmacy first drew me to medicine. Throughout college, I participated in a number of clinical experiences, including volunteering as an EMT and shadowing numerous doctors. These experiences confirmed my decision to pursue a career in medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Clinical: Medical assistant at OB-GYN office, shadowing at pediatric office, general surgery, and pediatrics, volunteer EMT, volunteer at Hospital for Special Surgery, Medical Ethics internship

Non-Clinical: Founder of Helpers for COVID-19, Vice President of Blood Initiative of Hunter, PHMI Ambassador and Mentor, Peer Health Exchange Educator

Research: Cancer research at the Bargonetti Lab

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It fluctuated depending on the difficulty of the course and whether there was an upcoming exam. On weeks that I didn’t have exams, I would spend a few hours and for weeks that I did have exams, I would spend around 10 hours per week studying.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I self-studied using Kaplan books, Anki, UWorld, and the AAMC material and had a schedule to keep myself organized and on track.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: No, I self-studied using Kaplan books, Anki, UWorld, and the AAMC material and had a schedule to keep myself organized and on track.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I consider my personal statement and secondary applications, MCAT score, varied clinical experiences, and many community service hours to be my strengths in my application.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I wanted to stay in New York or as close as possible to New York, so I only applied on the East Coast with most schools being in New York or the neighboring states.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Office helped me in numerous ways, from making revisions to my primary and secondary applications, to mock interviews and connecting me with students in the medical schools I was interviewing at. Overall, they provided me with the support to be successful in the medical school application cycle.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Follow your own path and believe in yourself—whether you need several gap years to truly be sure you want to pursue medicine or feel confident to apply right away. With hard work and dedication you can achieve your goals!


Headshot: [Applicant Name]

Name: Chidiadi Nze
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.56
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: New York Medical College

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I was always the inquisitive sort of kid, and because my parents were in the healthcare field meant that I always had questions for them. My mother is a nurse and my father went from being an IT specialist to becoming a nurse practitioner. They always encouraged me to care for my younger brothers and it became second nature to do so with friends and extended family. Something clicked as I got older and indulged in my growing interest in the sciences. I wanted to combine my lifelong love of learning with my desire to aid others. It made sense to pursue medicine, particularly the path of a physician as they never stop learning how to care for their patients.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I started volunteering with a Nigerian-based women’s organization at the age of fifteen. They came to my family’s aid during a period of severe struggle and so I joined and kept up with it until halfway through college. I also volunteered at Mount Sinai as a CARE Volunteer. My wonderful former boss at my Fresenius dialysis clinic was fine with and even encouraged me to pursue my desire to see healthcare from a researcher’s perspective, so with permission I worked with Renal Research Institute’s incredible team for more than a year as a Clinical Research Coordinator. We worked on projects funded by the NIH to understand and combat COVID, with particular analysis on how it affects ESRD patients.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I did my best to maintain about 15-20 of studying per week because I also worked part-time through college to help pay for my tuition.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I self-studied for more flexibility and less drain on my wallet. I used UWorld (lifesaver!), a little Anki, Khan Academy to brush up on topics, Jack Westin for CARS, and the AAMC materials to practice and test myself for the real deal. I also used BluePrint (formerly NextStep)’s free resources.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took about three and a half gap years because I simply did not have the amount of experience I wanted. It lowered my confidence and I wanted to make sure I could pursue the path of medical school wholeheartedly.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My work, research, and volunteering experiences gave my application a well-rounded boost without seeming too ‘cookie-cutter’. The connections I made also really helped in the sense that I was able to get letters from people I highly respect and admire. I also consider myself to be relatively skilled in writing. Maybe that’s because I love writing!

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, for both MD and DO.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office was completely honest with me about what I was lacking but also encouraged me to get out there and get experience. They even made time for me during the bustling application cycles when I had questions and ended up stuck with very important decisions.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Something worth doing is worth doing well. Be strong and keep going!


Headshot: [Applicant Name]

Name: Darwin Peña
Major: Biology
Minor: Philosophy
Overall GPA: 3.64
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY Downstate College of Medicine

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My interest in medicine was sparked by issues with health equity and diversity that I witnessed growing up in Washington Heights and the Bronx. Motivated by the experiences of navigating the healthcare system with my immigrant family, I was determined to help others like them access equitable care. I thought becoming a physician would be an ideal profession to help achieve better cultural and linguistic competency in medicine while also having the opportunity to address health disparities and utilize public health measures through community engagement.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

    Clinical
  • Emergency Room Volunteer at NYP
  • Summer Volunteer at Calvary Hospital
  • SHPEP: Summer Health Professions Education Program at Columbia University
  • SLiM: Science and Leadership in Medicine at Weill Cornell
  • Medical Scribe and Supervisor at City MD
    Research
  • SCORE: Summer Clinical Oncology Research Experience at MSKCC
  • Undergraduate Research Assistant in Dr. Raper’s Lab
  • MSK CARES: Coronavirus Academic Research Experience
  • ABRCMS, Undergraduate Research Conference, MSK Research Symposium
    Non-Clinical/Volunteer/Leadership
  • Freedom and Citizenship Program at Columbia University
  • Page Employee at New York Public Library
  • Volunteer at Northside Center for Child Development
  • PHMI: Pre-Health Mentoring Initiative at Hunter College
  • Member and e-board officer of the Latino Medical Association
  • Summer Program in Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health
  • Associate at a medical-technology company

 

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I studied somewhere around 20-25 hours per week. This would ramp up around midterms/finals season.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: As someone who likes structure I wanted to take a prep course to keep me accountable but it was expensive. I opted to self-study using the Kaplan books for content review, Anki for reinforcement and U-World + AAMC materials for content application. I also watched many Leah 4 Sci MCAT videos on YouTube because of her time-saving tricks.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took three gap years. As a first-gen student, I had no idea what this process entailed. After further digging, I knew I did not want to study for the MCAT while I was a full-time student, so I took two gap years. Similar to many others though, the pandemic impacted my application. In retrospect, this was the right decision for me. I was able to have an income, travel some and create memories that I will forever cherish.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My narrative tied in very well with my experiences, goals and application theme. As a result, many interviewers mentioned that my application read like a book. In addition, I had extensive clinical experience. Further, my recommenders were a huge asset. I asked people who I knew would advocate for me in great detail and this reflected in my interviews as well.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: All but two schools I applied to were in the Northeast. Mainly because this is where my support system is and where I wanted to remain the next four years.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Initially, I was nervous about approaching the Pre-Health Office but in hindsight, I wish I did it sooner. During my junior year, Kemile encouraged me to apply for SCORE, SLiM and an early admissions program while Nina helped me with interview prep that same year. I actually saved the recordings of our mock interviews and referenced them this cycle to strengthen my answers. Also, Kemile helped me write my application well before AMCAS and AACOMAS opened as I had already finalized most of my activities, personal statement, and knew my school list. During the cycle, I reached out to Kemile several times and she was always there to answer any questions and guide my decision making. Their assistance was instrumental to my success as a first-generation student.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A:

  • Get to know the Pre-Health Office early: They are there to help you get where you want to be as a future medical professional. They’ve helped hundreds of students matriculate and can help you do the same. Put yourself out there and interact with them each semester. They want to know what you’re up to and what you plan to do next.
  • Do not rush your application: This process requires commitment and is taxing in several ways. Take the time that you need to be the best applicant you can be as you should only want to do this once and do it right. Whether you are a physician four years from now versus five will not really matter because you will be one regardless. Be kind to yourself, don’t spread yourself too thin and take your time.
  • Fee waivers: If you qualify, I highly recommend applying for the AAMC Fee Assistance Program (FAP). With FAP, you can apply to 20 MD programs for free, your MCAT registration fees are discounted and you get free practice materials from the AAMC. The FAP also waives your secondary fees so in total you save hundreds of dollars. AACOMAS has a fee waiver program as well but it is more restrictive.

 


Balkaran Singh

Name: Balkaran Singh
Major: Biochemistry
Overall GPA: 4.0
Graduation Year: 2022
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: I will be attending SUNY Downstate College of Medicine!

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: What drew me to pursue medicine as a physician was learning and seeing what the profession entails. From my volunteer positions at hospitals and volunteer and paid positions at private medical offices, I learned that a physician not only manages their patient’s healthcare and provides them with treatment for illness and injury, but they also act as a trusted provider of medical knowledge for their patients and the community they serve. This aspect of the physician’s work truly drew me to this field.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I had the opportunity to work at Dr. Zhong’s biology laboratory as a research assistant and contribute to her nup211 protein project. In addition, I was involved in PHMI as a mentor and ambassador. I was also allowed to tutor Biochemistry students in Dr. Astrof’s class during my senior year.

Outside of Hunter, I volunteered in the Emergency Department at LIJ Forest Hills Hospital and NYP Weill Cornell Medicine. I also dedicated time to serve my community by volunteering at my local Gurudwara, where I taught children how to play the tabla as well as helped them with their schoolwork.

Although clinical and research opportunities were scarce during the pandemic, I was involved in e-Shadowing (which I found through the Pre-Med listserv) as well as volunteered in The Microbe Directory at Weill Cornell, by contributing to a comprehensive microbe database.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: The amount of time I spent studying varied depending on whether there were exams/finals taking place or not. If exams were 3+ weeks out (very rare), I would spend about 10-12 hours a week going over the material learned in class and/or brushing up on the material for the next topic. When exams were coming up, I set aside upwards of 25 hours a week to study.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I did not use a test prep course to prepare for the MCAT. I self-studied by using certain online resources as well as by looking at other student’s MCAT “strategies/prep-plans” on YouTube to come up with a personalized plan. I used the following resources in my MCAT prep: Kaplan 7 Book Review Set, uWorld, AAMC MCAT Prep set, Anki (Milesdown Deck), Jack Westin, and the Khan Academy Psychology and Sociology review document.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I did take a gap year to further explore the field of medicine and develop myself to be a more well-rounded applicant. I used that gap year to work at a multi-specialty pediatrics clinic where I had the opportunity to see and explore more facets of medicine.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe that my high GPA, MCAT score, and experiences were he strengths of my application. While my top academic performance reflected my dedication and diligence during my undergraduate journey, my experiences spoke to the type of person I am and what type of physician I hope to become.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, I applied to 22 M.D. schools, mainly across the Northeastern region.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office made sure to provide constant and up-to-date information about the medical school application process and what the expectations were for a successful applicant. Even during the pandemic, a time when no one knew what was going on, Kemile and Nina made sure to keep us well informed of any changes in the application process, as well as providing us with ample resources and opportunities to get involved in the field of medicine and science. During the actual application process, they helped me at every step, from drafting the personal statement, to preparing for the interviews, to discussing medical school acceptances.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: The first thing I would say is to relax and breathe. I know from personal experience how stressful this process can be and how many things pre-med students have to juggle at the same time. Do not forget to give time for yourself! Another option that I wished I had been more open to was the idea of a gap year. I know about 90% of freshman and sophomore pre-med students are adamant about not taking a gap year (myself included) but having taken one myself and speaking to others who did as well, it can really help bolster your application and give you more time to figure out why YOU want to be a physician. Oh, and get started on those secondary essays ASAP!


2022 Matriculants


Headshot: Besmira Alija

Name: Besmira Alija
Major: Biology and Interdisciplinary Studies
Overall GPA: 3.98
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Harvard Medical School.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My initial interest in medicine sprang from my experiences translating for my immigrant parents during their medical appointments. As a child, I thought helping my parents during a time of need was the coolest thing ever. It wasn't until I was an undergraduate, when I started volunteering at NYC hospitals, that I understood the weight of these experiences. Time and time again, I came across patients like my parents who did not have access to the care they needed because of language barriers in clinical settings. The ability to advocate, serve and treat patients who feel unseen and unheard is one of the aspects of medicine that excites me the most. These clinical experiences, in combination with research, teaching, and mentoring, made me recognize my passion for academic medicine. Additionally, I knew I wanted to be in a field that is always advancing and that will push me to my limits. To me, that field is medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Research:

  1. Summer Clinical Oncology Research Experience (SCORE)
  2. Research Internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC)
  3. Corona Virus Academic Research Experience at MSKCC
  4. Research Technician at Columbia University Irving Medical Center
  5. Research Fellowship through the John P. McNulty Scholars Program
  6. Participation in various research conferences such as ABRCMS, ERN, and AACR

Clinical:

  1. Mount Sinai ER Volunteer Program
  2. Patient Navigator at NYP-Columbia
  3. Extensive shadowing experiences (oncology, multiple surgical specialties, interventional radiology, OB-GYN, and more)

Non-clinical experience/community outreach/employment:

  1. Health Educator, Peer Health Exchange
  2. Biology Tutor, the Skirball Science Center
  3. Pre-Health Ambassador, Hunter College Pre-Health Office
  4. College Access Coach, NYC Department of Education
  5. Teaching Assistant for SCORE program at MSKCC
  6. Student Director, Pre-Health Mentoring Initiative
  7. Science Educator, BioBus

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I studied between 10 to 15 hours per week when there were no exams, but closer to 20 hours during exam periods.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I personally did not use a test prep course. If you are a student that likes flexibility, can make a study schedule and stick to it, then I believe a test prep course is not necessary. If you feel that you require a more structured studying schedule, then a test prep course is a great option. It all depends on you and your learning style. Just be honest with yourself and your needs!

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took two gap years, and it was the best decision ever. I didn't feel ready to apply for and attend medical school straight out of college. I wanted to continue research, spend time with friends and family, and continue my community outreach endeavors.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe that my life story, commitment to the underserved, extensive commitment to multi-year research, and interviewing skills were strengths in my application.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes! I applied to a total of 31 schools on all coasts, but the majority of my list consisted of schools in the northeast.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: From day one of being a Hunter pre-health student, the pre-health office supported me and paved the way toward my success. Kemile, for example, encouraged me to apply for SCORE, which opened many (!!!) doors in my career. Nina was immensely helpful in editing personal statements, doing mock interviews, and making me a more polished applicant. Additionally, the committee letter process really prepared me for a successful application cycle. Before the AMCAS/AACOMAS application services opened, my application was extensively edited by the Pre-Health office, and my committee letter was ready to be uploaded. This saved me a lot of stress, trouble, and time during the cycle. Additionally, all throughout the cycle, Kemile and Nina were always there to answer all my questions, concerns and provide advice. The office is a phenomenal resource that all students should take advantage of! Make sure to meet with an advisor early, so they can get to know your face, your story, and where your passions lie.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A:

  1. Only apply to medical school when you're ready: Remember that the application cycle is expensive, mentally taxing, and requires a lot of effort. If you do not feel ready to apply, I highly recommend holding off until you are. There is no shame in taking a little extra time to figure things out. I did it, and it was the best decision ever! Apply once and do it right.
  2. Your story matters: I didn't appreciate this fact until I was interviewing for medical school. Like many pre-meds, I thought that schools only cared about my GPA and MCAT score. While my GPA was high, my MCAT score was not. I didn't even think I had a chance at a school like Harvard. During interviews, I expected to be grilled on the minute details of my research, but instead, I was asked to think about who I am. What are my passions? What are the struggles I went through? How did I overcome them? What did that teach me? I think this is especially relevant to students at Hunter who are often from immigrant backgrounds. Your story matters! Share it, embrace it, be proud of it.
  3. Shoot your shot: You will never know the outcome of a situation unless you try. I applied to my first research program during sophomore year, despite having absolutely no research experience. I was constantly told about how competitive the program was, and that my chances of getting accepted were slim to none. I got accepted to that same program and it was one of the most influential moments of my pre-medical journey. The same applies to medical school admissions, seeking out mentors, or life in general. Never count yourself out of an experience/opportunity until you try!

Headshot: Martin Viola

Name: Martin Viola
Major: Forensic Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.92
Graduation Year:
2016 (undergraduate studies at
John Jay College),
2020 (post-bacc pre-medical studies at
Hunter College)
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Harvard Medical School.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I originally did a master's degree in psychology and thought I would become a psychologist. I loved working in the area of mental health, but I also felt like there were so many parts of healthcare that I wanted to explore outside of psychology. In 2018, I began volunteering in the ER at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, absolutely loved my experience, and decided to pursue a career in medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I volunteered in an emergency department and a community clinic, and did research at Weill Cornell for four years, where I had some amazing mentors.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: My study time per day varied between 1-3 hours. I tried to make the most out of my time by doing active studying (i.e. questions, flashcards, explaining concepts out loud to make sure I understood them) rather than passive studying (i.e. re-reading notes).

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, but I did use UWorld which was very helpful

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: From my graduation to college to matriculation to medical school, I've had a total of six gap years! This process took a while, but that allowed me to invest a lot of time in projects I was passionate about.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Showing a strong interest/commitment to research was viewed as a strength by my interviewers.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, with a focus on big cities

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Making sure I stayed on track with the requirements, interview preparation, and helping me to navigate the interview season

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Take care of your physical and mental health first; this process is a marathon, not a sprint, so making sure you are okay is the most important thing.


Headshot: Alice Tsai

Name: Alice Tsai
Major: Biology and Behavioral
Neurobiology concentration
Overall GPA: 3.99
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: As a result of my longstanding volunteer commitment to the Tzu Chi Foundation, an international humanitarian organization that became an integral part of my family's life, I knew from a young age that I wanted service and one-on-one interaction to be at the core of whatever I chose to do for the rest of my life. While there are many careers that fit that description, my lifelong interest in learning about science and the intricacies of the human body, as well as my experiences as a caretaker for certain family members, naturally led me to medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I worked as a medical assistant in a GI clinic with a Chinese-speaking patient population, and was involved in various research projects over the course of my 4 years in college (behavioral neuroscience research with mice at Hunter College, clinical research through the SCORE program at MSKCC, and molecular biology research at Hunter College). I was also president of the NYC chapter of Tzu Chi Collegiate Association (a volunteer organization for college students), an athlete on Hunter's swim team, a peer mentor for Macaulay at Hunter freshmen, and founded the Remote Resource Initiative with a fellow student during the pandemic to offer free tutoring services for elementary, middle, and high schoolers to supplement their online learning experience.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It fluctuated a lot depending on workload and whether there were exams that particular week, but on average I spent around 20 hours studying or doing work for my classes.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I spent 4 months studying on my own schedule, with roughly 1 month of content review with Kaplan books, 2 months of UWorld practice questions, and 1 month of official AAMC practice content. I took several full-length practice tests throughout the last 3 months of studying.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I wanted to make sure my application was as strong as it could possibly be before I submitted, since I hoped to only go through the application process once if possible. Taking the gap year allowed me to make sure my experiences, letters of recommendation, and MCAT performance were higher in quality than if I had gone straight through and applied at the end of junior year. I also wanted to get a taste of life as a working adult rather than as a student, and dedicate my time to activities I enjoy. I was able to take on a recitation TA position at Hunter, continue working at the GI clinic, and volunteer with Tzu Chi, all while spending time with family and friends and traveling during my free time.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I would say I had strong clinical and volunteer experiences, and in general a well-rounded set of experiences that I felt comfortable speaking about in interviews because they were activities I genuinely enjoyed. However, I think the main strength of my application stemmed from the level of introspection I did before and during the application cycle. Above all else, I wanted to make sure my personal statement, secondary essays, and interviews authentically reflected how my personality, core values, motivations, and aspirations aligned with a career in medicine.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A:Yes, but I mainly applied to schools in the Northeast and in New York to make sure I would have the social support I need in medical school.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office helped me understand what a competitive application to medical school looks like. There are so many aspects to this process, and as a procrastinator I especially appreciated that the advisors made sure I was on top of every part of the application timeline — from drafting and revising the personal statement early, to having letters of recommendation in well before it was time to submit, to prewriting secondary essays, to preparing for both traditional and MMI interviews before the interview cycle began.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Rely on your support system - reach out to mentors, family, friends, or advisors for advice and emotional support throughout the process. It's a long road, so make sure to evaluate for yourself whether this is really the career path you want to pursue and why; keeping those motivations in mind will make it easier to keep adapting to challenges and working hard to reach your ultimate goal. For myself, I found it was less overwhelming to take the process one step at a time, and focus on doing as well as I could on that particular step before moving onto the next. Most importantly, take care of your wellbeing and live a life that you enjoy. No matter how busy and stressed out you are, you should always make time for the people and activities that bring you happiness.


Headshot: Arvind Dev

Name: Arvind Dev
Major: Chemistry-Bioinformatics
Minor: Journalism
Overall GPA: 3.96
Graduation Year: 2022
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: I will be attending Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: The role of a physician allows me to integrate my interests in advocacy and research into patient care, effectively uniting my passions for communication and humanities with science and medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  • Hunter Class of 2022 Representative, Macaulay Scholars Council (2018-2022)
  • Vice President of IT/Communications, Macaulay Scholars Council (2019-2022)
  • President, Macaulay Pre-Health Club (2018-2022)
  • Editorial Director, Spoon CUNY (2018-2022)
  • Website Manager & Peer Mentor, Macaulay@Hunter Peer Mentor Program (2019-2022)
  • Founding E-Board Member & Chair of Graphic Design, CMMB x Hunter (2019-2022)
  • Macaulay News Editor, Macaulay Messenger (2019-2021)
  • Strategic Planning Committee Member, Macaulay Honors College (2018-2020)
  • Diversity Committee Representative, Macaulay Honors College (2019-2021)
  • Social Media Committee Representative, Macaulay Honors College (2018-2022)
  • Chair, Macaulay Senior Committee (2021-2022)
  • Medical Assistant, Pediatrics & Infectious Diseases Clinic (2020-2021)
  • Remote & In-Person Volunteering, NYU Langone Health (2019-2021)
  • Chief Undergraduate Research Intern, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Department of Radiology (2019-2021)

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I spent anywhere from 20-25 hours per week on courses, though I must emphasize that breaking down studying and assignments into small chunks was a useful skill in managing courses in general.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A:I didn't use a test prep course to prepare for the MCAT. I used a mixture of Kaplan books, Khan Academy, U-World, and the AAMC materials for content review and questions. I also bought a pack of exams from Blueprint MCAT (I recommend the 4-exam bundle, and they also have a free sample test!) Finally, I used Anki to supplement my studying and keep myself refreshed on content through spaced repetition.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I did not take a gap year.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A:I think that the biggest strength of my application was my narrative, in that I tied together my simultaneous interests in journalism, science, leadership, and service to distinguish my personal journey towards medicine. A lot of my experiences were longitudinal as well, which gave me more to draw from when writing and speaking about them throughout the cycle.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I did apply nationally to around 30 MD and DO programs, mostly focusing on the northeast region.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office was instrumental in helping me achieve my goals. Between advice on the written components of my application to mock interviews, I felt that the support I received was the only reason I was at all successful in this process. There are plenty of resources that may tell you different things about the pre-health process, but the Advising Office's advice always set me straight and on the path of success during my four years.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Everything has a story, and you should seek it out in everything you do

The terms “narrative” and “x-factor” get thrown around so easily nowadays, giving many the impression that you need to have something so innately unique and incomparable about you to even stand a chance during the admissions process. This could not be further from the truth.

As pre-health students, we are accustomed to viewing our application in a disconnected manner: “I need X clinical hours and X volunteer hours.” While it's important to have a sustained level of involvement in such areas, you should also consider how all of the activities you involve yourself in and the life experiences you've had connect (or don't connect). Such reflection can help you deepen your understanding of the field you're trying to pursue while also giving you an idea of how you may want to practice in that field in the future.

And in searching for stories, you will find that your story is one that is interesting and deserving of being told. This process can be immeasurably difficult at times, and holding on to your story and the motivations that have driven you to pursue this field will keep the ambition burning bright as you move forward.

Your story matters, too!


Headshot: Raichel Philip

Name: Raichel Philip
Major: Human Biology
Minor: Sociology
Overall GPA: 3.91
Graduation Year: 2022
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: SUNY Downstate College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I believe a person's health is central to their well-being and through my clinical, research, and service experiences, I have developed a passion for empowering patients to improve their quality of life through their health. Serving others as a physician would allow me to make a substantial and meaningful positive impact on patients' lives while being an investigator and leader as a clinician, a scientist, and a patient advocate.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: For my clinical experiences, I was an ED volunteer at NYP/Weill Cornell Medical Center, a medical scribe at an endocrinology clinic, and I shadowed a primary care physician.

For research activities, I worked as a bench lab intern and volunteer student researcher in two labs at Weill Cornell and was a clinical research assistant at NYU Langone/VA Medical Center. At Hunter, I was a volunteer biology tutor for the Skirball Center, a mentor for PHMI, vice president of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and a member of the Pre-Health Journal Club.

My community service outside of Hunter was working as an arts and crafts teacher at my local church.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 15-20 hours

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I used Princeton Review, which mainly helped with content review. The resources I found most helpful were Anki, UWorld, and the AAMC materials.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: No, I did not take a gap year.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I had various clinical, research, and service experiences that gave me a broad understanding of medicine and what it means to be a leader.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, but most schools I applied to were on the East Coast.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The support and advice I received from meeting with Kemile every semester kept me on track with my courses, extracurriculars, collection of recommendations, and MCAT preparation. The Committee Letter application process helped me get a head start on crafting my personal statement and activities descriptions, and being able to review these materials with Kemile was a tremendous help. Having mock interviews with Nina helped me prepare and gave me confidence for my medical school interviews. Overall, the pre-health advising office made a significant impact in my readiness to apply to medical school and my success in admission.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Take your time to find out what your interests are and don't feel as though you need to get everything done in four years. Your extracurriculars should not negatively impact your academic standing or your mental/physical health, so don't take on more than you can handle. Try to not compare yourself to others; we are all unique and have distinct paths. Resilience is incredibly important; remember that there's nothing you can't bounce back from.


Headshot: Cien Huang

Name: Cien Huang
Major: Biological Sciences
Overall GPA: 3.98
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I became interested in medicine because of my personal medical experiences and my grandparents' experiences with the American healthcare system as immigrants.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I volunteered at New York Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital and Mt. Sinai Hospital. I took part in multiple research projects at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center by serving as a research intern in a molecular imaging lab, the Summer Clinical Oncology Research Experience (SCORE) program, and Coronavirus Academic Research Experience Summer (CARES) program. At MSKCC, I shadowed multiple physicians. I also served as a Pre-Health Mentoring Initiative Mentor at Hunter College and held leadership positions in Lok Hei Association and Mentoring for All.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I studied an average of 20 hours during the typical school week. I also made sure to review class materials on a regular basis so as to not cram before exams. On exam weeks, I studied up to 30 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I self-studied for the MCAT. I used Jack Westin passages for daily CARS practice, UWorld, AAMC materials, and Altius for practice exams. I spent two-thirds of my dedicated MCAT studying time to practice questions and full-length exams.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took one gap year in order to have a dedicated time period to focus on the rigorous application process. I also worked as a scribe at the Lenox Hill Hospital Emergency Department in order to gain more direct patient exposure after the hiatus during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Having a consistent and cohesive narrative strengthened my application. I incorporated my personal experiences as motivations for pursuing many of my extracurricular activities. Tying my love of the arts into my research interests (oncology molecular imaging) also made my narrative more unique. I was also fortunate to have diverse research experiences at MSKCC and published two articles during that time.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No, I applied mainly in the Northeast region.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office was a valuable resource throughout my undergraduate career and application process to medical school. I found many opportunities through the Pre-Health Listserv. The timeline that the Pre-Health Office set throughout the application process also helped me keep organized and ensured early submission of my application. Kemile assisted me in all aspects of my application. Her feedback on my personal statement and secondaries helped me craft these writings into their best forms. The practice interviews I had with Nina and Veronica helped tremendously in helping me formulate my responses.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Set goals and create timelines for yourself and be organized throughout your undergraduate career and application process. It is very easy to fall into a “checklist” mentality. Instead, find extracurricular activities that are meaningful to you (quality over quantity) and ones that can help you create a cohesive narrative about your passion for medicine. Most importantly, be kind to yourself! The pre-med journey is grueling, but also remember to continue to pursue your hobbies and spend time with loved ones.


Name: Pavan Khosla
Major: Biological Sciences w/ Concentration in Bioinformatics
Overall GPA: 3.71
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Yale School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: The prospect of providing empathetic care while championing biomedical innovation lifelong.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:
Research:

  1. Bioinformatician (Columbia University Medical Center)
  2. Bioinformatics Scientist (BasePair)
  3. Research Assistant (The Rockefeller University, Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)
  4. Senior Medical Scribe (NYP-Weill Cornell and NYP-Lower Manhattan Hospital)
  5. Surgical Fitter
  6. Pharmaceutical Technician
  7. College Assistant to Yalow Honors Program
  8. Scholar Bridge Mentor, Pre-Health Mentor
  9. General Chemistry 1 & 2 Teaching Assistant
  10. Volunteer: (Opioid Overdose Prevention Program, Weill Cornell Heart-to-Heart, American Red Cross, Hospice of NY)

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 5-10 hours per week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No. I self-studied with the Kaplan books, Anki, UWorld, and AAMC materials

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took two gap years to refine my written application, take the MCAT, and submit my application on time after experiencing pandemic-related delays in 2020.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My longitudinal research and health care experiences, MCAT score, and personal narrative.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied predominantly to programs on the east coast.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office provided invaluable feedback through constructive criticism and support. I would not be nearly as successful without their guidance, which was steady while I was an undergraduate pre-med student and heavy after graduation while I constructed my application.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A:

  1. Start writing early. You want to: write your primary application, revisit it in a few weeks, realize you can do better, rewrite most of it, and repeat this process a few times before feeling well represented by your narrative.
  2. While preparing for the MCAT, drop everything else and eat, sleep, and breathe the MCAT (outside of physical/mental hygiene activities).
  3. Apply for AAMC FAP if you qualify (significantly reduces costs).
  4. Pre-write secondary applications for at least 10 schools (follow Pre-Health guidelines if they ask for more).
  5. Listen to the Pre-Health Advisors, they have gone through this process many times and have Hunter-student specific advice. If you have a disagreement or question, they will have more time to help you if you ask early (e.g., before your application-writing cycle or ASAP).

Headshot: Jacob Geldner

Name: Jacob Geldner
Major: Biochemistry, THHP
Minor: Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.93
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My passion for serving others

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I worked as an EMT and Paramedic; I conducted Organic Chemistry Research, and volunteered for the Red Cross

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Variable depending on material, more or less full-time job hours

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, just used Kaplan MCAT Books

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I worked as a paramedic to gain clinical experience and earn money. I also wanted to take some time off before medical school

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My work as an EMT a Paramedic, volunteering, and having published research

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: ? I mostly applied to medical schools in the Northeast.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-health Office provided excellent advice and encouragement to stay on track with all application requirements and recommendations.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Make learning your passion and always engage 100% in your courses and extracurricular activities.


Headshot: Davon T. Lee

Name: Davon T. Lee
Major: Nursing
Minor: Interdisciplinary East Asian Studies
concentration in Mandarin
Overall GPA: Post-Bacc: 3.929, Cum: 3.4
Graduation Year: Undergrad- 2015,
Post-Bacc-2021
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Howard University College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: As a teenager, I knew that I wanted to someday work in healthcare. I initially decided on nursing because there was less schooling involved and I thought it was within my reach. After spending a few years as a Registered Nurse, I knew that I wanted more in my medical skills and knowledge and decided to pursue a medical degree. I was becoming exponentially more interested in the work being performed by physicians than the duties I was responsible for as a nurse.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I worked on several different units at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Two years were spent at the Cornell campus followed by approximately four years at the Columbia campus. I completed research under Dr. Gartrell at Columbia's Irving Cancer Center investigating pediatric medulloblastomas. I also shadowed Dr. Duron in the Pediatric Diaphragmatic Hernia Clinic at Columbia.

In terms of service, I was a member of the community garden in my neighborhood. I also volunteered with City Meals on Wheels, feeding the elderly in Spanish Harlem

During my undergraduate years, I spent a summer at The National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, two summers volunteering with One Common Unity camping trips, and another summer completing an intensive Chinese camp in Taiwan.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 20-25 hours per week in studying

10-15 hours per week on coursework (i.e., lab reports/homework etc.)

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I self-studied and utilized Kaplan materials and the AAMC exam packs.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Approximately 7 years transpired between graduating from college and starting medical school. About 3 years after graduating, I began the Post-Bacc Certificate Program at Hunter College.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My letters of recommendation, post-bacc performance, and clinical/shadowing experiences were the absolute strongest parts of my application.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I did not apply to many schools. I applied to a few “good fit” medical institutions. The majority of those programs are located in the South.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Office provided key insight and guidance into crafting a solid portfolio for medical schools. Although I was always compliant with the rigorous requirements, it wasn't until I was actively involved in the application process that I appreciated their necessity. Hunter College encouraged me to acquire sufficiently diverse experiences and academic qualifications that allowed a tiny bit of forgiveness in areas of my application that were not the strongest.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Being accepted to medical school was a very arduous and humbling process for me. I was not one of the few lucky LinkedIn applicants sitting on ten acceptances (congrats to them nonetheless). Remember that everyone has a unique journey. Try not to constantly compare your path to another's. You're going to end up at the right institution at the right time. My biggest advice is to remember who you are as an individual and why you're pursuing a career as a doctor. There were times that I worked a stressful 13-hour shift, only to then go home and immediately study, sleep for 3 hours, then repeat. Some days I woke in tears, being so mentally exhausted from the process.

During my lowest periods, I reminded myself of the ongoing maternal & infant health crisis. I read about the racial and socioeconomic inequities that persist in patient outcomes. I thought about the stories of my ancestors' experiences at various medical institutions throughout the nation. Further, I reflected on my own experiences as a black and queer man. Find something that motivates you, and center your journey around it.

Please take care of your physical, mental, and spiritual health during the trek as well. Many of us become self-neglectful. The neglect could be enough to derail your journey to becoming a physician. Although it'll take a bit more creativity, you have to find time for the things and people you care about the most (aside from medicine).

I wish you the best of luck on the road ahead. You got this!


Headshot: Steven Medvedovsky

Name: Steven Medvedovsky
Major: Human Biology
Overall GPA: 3.8
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY Downstate College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Growing up, I always had a strong interest in science. However, it wasn't until the recovery of a close family member from illness that I began to consider a career in medicine. In high school, I started volunteering in the Emergency Department at my local hospital, where I developed a passion for medicine. Through my coursework, research activities, and clinical experiences in college, I began to realize that becoming a physician would give me a unique opportunity to bring together my interests in patient care, research, community service, and education.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Volunteer and Physician Shadow at Staten Island University Hospital's Emergency Department, and later, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Full-Time Medical Scribe at CityMD; Undergraduate researcher at Dr. Hiroshi Matsui's Bio-nanotechnology lab; Vice President of the Pre-Health Research Initiative Club; Peer Mentor at the Pre-Health Mentoring Initiative; Pre-Health Advising Office Volunteer; Peer TA for General Chemistry.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Around 20 hours per week and closer to 30 when preparing for exams.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I decided to self-study for the MCAT. For content review, I used Kaplan textbooks and free online resources like the Khan Academy 100-page psych/soc document and jacksparrow2048's MCAT Anki deck. After completing content review, I started doing UWorld MCAT QBank problems, Jack Westin's Daily CARS passages, and Blueprint full length practice exams to build my test-stamina and identify gaps in my content knowledge. Once I was achieving close to my target score, I began taking AAMC full length practice exams and using the Section Bank questions to become more familiar with AAMC's wording/question style.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took one gap year and applied to medical school at the end of my senior year at Hunter. Having an additional year to prepare my application gave me the opportunity to co-author a paper on my research, study for the MCAT, and gain additional clinical experience. For instance, during my gap year, I worked full time as a Medical Scribe at CityMD.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I think that my long-term commitment to my extracurriculars strengthened my application. For example, for nearly four years, I volunteered at Dr. Hiroshi Matsui's lab at Weill Cornell. There, I co-authored a paper on our work, co-wrote a patent, and gave oral presentations at research conferences for which I won awards. Discussion of this activity in my personal statement, secondary essays, and interviews, expressed my passion for and dedication to research in medicine. When pursuing extracurriculars, it's important to get involved in something you have a genuine interest in. That passion will come through in your written application and your interviews, and will make you a more unique and memorable candidate.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No, I only applied to programs in the Northeast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Being the first in my family to pursue a career in medicine, there were so many things about this process that I was unaware of. From the very beginning, the Pre-Health Advising Office played an instrumental role in my gaining admission into medical school. In the years leading up to applying, Kemile Jackson helped me create a course plan each semester and introduced me to upperclassmen who gave me valuable peer mentorship. Nina Ledis was always there to offer vital academic counseling and moral support whenever I needed it. The Pre-Health Office also kept me informed of extracurricular opportunities, study resources, and other tools I could use to succeed. When it came time to apply, Veronica Mitchell helped me revise my personal statement and prepare for Situational Judgement Tests, Nina assisted me with secondary essay writing and interview preparation, and Kemile offered guidance on letter of interest/intent writing. Everyone at the Pre-Health Advising Office went above and beyond to help me, and I'm extremely grateful for all the effort they dedicate to their students. I highly encourage incoming students to reach out early and introduce themselves to the advising team here at Hunter; they really are truly incredible!

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Take it one step at a time and don't compare yourself to others. The process of becoming a physician is incredibly long and unique to each person. I think that it's important to accept this early on and to take it slow. Do not bite off more than you can chew in terms of course load and extracurriculars. Use college as an opportunity to explore your interests and find activities you are truly passionate about. Doing so will only strengthen your application and improve your candidacy for medical school. Have confidence in yourself and don't give up. If you persist, you will succeed. Good luck!


Headshot: Deena Najjar

Name: Deena Najjar
Major: Chemistry
(Concentration Bioinformatics)
Minor: Economics
Overall GPA: N/A
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: When I was younger I fell in love with science and had a deep fascination with the body and the way that the different systems of the body interacted and functioned. As I grew older, I found that what guided this passion was a deep love for people and interpersonal interactions.

I found so much meaning in the act of providing care to others and felt it was a way that I could use my strengths and passions to provide service to others. A career in medicine really felt like the perfect intersection between my love for science, service, and people.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I tried to focus my attention on extracurricular activities that I felt really passionate about and connected to. I worked as a research assistant at a genomics lab that taught me a lot about translational research, which was in line with my research interests, as well as a research assistant for a health economics professor at Hunter. I was the vice president of the American Cancer Society chapter at Hunter and I was the student representative for Save a Child's Heart (an organization that brings life-saving heart procedures to children in developing countries).

Furthermore, I volunteered and continue to volunteer as a pre-health mentor and was a general chemistry peer TA. I also volunteer for the BOLD program at Montefiore Hospital and was a mentor for two summers for the MedStart Program at Mount Sinai. Additionally, I was a member of the career planning committee for the APSA and shadowed at Mount Sinai and NYP. As a pre-health student, I think it's important to try to participate in activities that you feel really further inform your career choice and that you are excited to be a part of!

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It really depended on the course that I was taking. There were certain subjects that were less intuitive and more difficult for me to comprehend and required daily studying and other courses that required only a few hours a week.

In my opinion, it is important for students to assess what their personal academic strengths and weaknesses are and form a study schedule that allows ample time to prepare for exams and assignments and also allows for personal time for relaxation and quality time with family and friends. This balance will look different for each person and each semester may look different from the semester before, so I would advise students to remain adaptable and really assess and reassess study needs for each particular course in each particular semester.

I think for me personally, it was important to concern myself more with the quality of my study time rather than quantifying studying in terms of hours to ensure that I was using my time effectively and not just checking off a box on my to-do list.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I did not use a test prep course. However, I used the Kaplan test prep books and practice exams along with UWorld and the AAMC MCAT resources.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took a gap year for two main reasons. Due to COVID, I was unable to physically go into my research laboratory for the last year of my college experience. As a student that is passionate about research and the way in which scientific discovery can improve a physician's ability to provide care, I really wanted to have the opportunity to get back to doing significant research in person in my laboratory prior to medical school matriculation.

I felt it was important to further improve my research skills in preparation for further significant research experiences. In addition to this, I felt that I wanted to take a break between my undergraduate and medical school career to really internalize the differences between being a pre-health student and a medical student and set expectations for myself for personal and academic growth so that I could enter into my career as a medical student prepared to take on the responsibilities of becoming a competent and empathetic physician.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I would say that the strength of my application was my ability to authentically write about why I wanted to be a physician. I really took the time during my undergraduate career to ask and re-ask myself the question of why I wanted to be a physician and why other careers couldn't quite satisfy my passion for service and my love of science.

I specifically sought out experiences and mentors that would challenge my interest in medicine, which allowed me to develop a strong and well thought out narrative for why being a physician was the only career for me. This not only gave me strength when the pre-health process and application cycle became particularly challenging, but also allowed me to effectively communicate my love for medicine and my dedication toward a career as a physician in interviews.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, however, I applied to schools primarily on the East Coast and within the tri-state area. I wanted to stay relatively close to family but also recognized the importance of applying broadly.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: I think, like many students, I knew when I came to Hunter that I wanted to go to medical school but I didn't really have quality information about what the process of applying looked like. The Pre-Health Office really provided me with a framework of what I needed to do in terms of both coursework and extracurricular activities to be a competitive applicant for medical school.

Additionally, having support during the application cycle for both interviews and application materials really allowed me to go into the cycle with a deeper level of confidence and feel more prepared for the different challenges associated with this difficult process and ultimately allowed for me to gain acceptance to medical school.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: I would say my advice is to really take time to enjoy this process and find the fun and the pleasure of being on the path to pursuing your dream.

For so many of us, we have spent years hearing about taking courses like Organic Chemistry and Anatomy and Physiology and it is so easy to lose the excitement in the anxiety of getting stellar grades and balancing extracurriculars. I would really encourage every pre-health student to pursue activities that are meaningful to them and take classes that are challenging and interesting even though the thought of not succeeding is scary.

So much of medicine involves uncertainty and your time as a pre-health student is a tremendous opportunity to train yourself in all aspects of becoming a health professional, even the non-academic ones.


Headshot: Melanie Kristt

Name: Melanie Kristt
Major: Biology (Neurobiology Concentration)
Minor: History, Hebrew
Overall GPA: 3.90
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Columbia University—Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I've been exposed to the medical field since I was young. My mother was a nurse and her passion for her career influenced my interest in medicine. Throughout school, I had an aptitude for math and science, and a desire to serve the greater good. My time in college allowed me to further understand what a physician's life is like and to develop my specific passions in neuroscience and health equity.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I worked throughout college as a private tutor. I was a part of Peer Health Exchange (leadership council member) for 4 years. I was a Resident Assistant for 2 years. I was a research assistant at Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) for 2 years, and at Mt. Sinai for 1 year. I participated in Heart to Heart at WCM (pop-up free community clinic) for a few months and also shadowed a physician there for several months. I spent a summer shadowing and volunteering with another physician in New Jersey.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: About 14 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I self-studied for a few months for the MCAT while working full-time. I used the Kaplan books and the official MCAT prep materials. I found that the official MCAT prep materials were the most helpful and accurate.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took 2 gap years. During those years, I worked as a lab technician at the WCM lab I volunteered at during undergrad. I felt that I needed more time to study for the MCAT, get my application materials ready, and wanted to gain more in-depth research experience (since research will likely have a substantial role in my future).

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe that my significant research experience and authorships were important. Also, having leadership roles and long-term positions helped as well. I didn't shy away from speaking about my personal life and I think that helped me stand out as an applicant.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes. I applied to 31 schools, mostly in the Northeast. A few were in the Mid-West, a few in California, and a few in the South. I found that 80% of my interview invitations came from schools located in New York State, and 83% of my acceptances were from schools located in New York, so I did tend to have more success with New York schools.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office was important from the beginning. The early workshops can be helpful if you don't know what to do, and they give important advice in terms of professionalism and managing your time. I found the advice and timelines especially helpful for the application year. They really walk you through what to expect for the entire process, help you edit your application, and advise you on how to be the best applicant possible. I believe their advice and assistance was quite important in helping me achieve the success I had as an applicant.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Early in college, it's important to be proactive and to seek opportunities that you like, that will help develop your skills, and that will give you a better understanding of what you may be doing in the future. Mentorship and asking for advice from others is also important for becoming successful. Be persistent, confident, and respectful. Prioritize taking care of yourself both physically and mentally.


Headshot: Jovanka Noel

Name: Jovanka Noel
Major: Health Psychology
Minor: Biology & Political Science
Overall GPA: 3.87
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My interest in medicine began at a young age with an experience I had as a patient. The empathy, knowledge, and care the physician working on my case demonstrated are traits I hope to embody. Her efforts not only alleviated the fears of an eleven year old but also sparked an interest in the body's ability to heal.

Through this career path, I will be able to fuse my love of the sciences with my passion for clinical research and patient education. I look forward to meeting the needs of the patients and communities I serve while also learning from them.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Summer Research Internships at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center & Columbia Medical Center; Mount Sinai SRA Program; Undergraduate Research Assistant in Dr. Revenson's Health Psych Lab; Volunteer Work for Peer Health Exchange; Peer Mentoring for the Macaulay at Hunter Peer Mentoring Program; Vice President of the Macaulay Psychology Club; Hospital Volunteering at New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist; Employment as a Clinical Research Coordinator

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It is difficult for me to determine an average. How much I studied each week varied based on how rigorous my coursework was and when my exams were. Whenever exams were approaching, the amount of time I spent studying increased drastically. Otherwise, I did my best to spend a few hours each day reviewing class material.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I did not. Instead, I purchased the Kaplan MCAT books for content review. When I was ready to move on to practice questions and exams, I used the official AAMC prep materials and third-party resources like UWorld and Altius.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took two gap years. I had hoped to apply during my senior year of college. However, after meeting with Kemile, it was clear that between my honors research thesis and other extracurricular commitments, I would be unable to give my application the time and attention it deserved. The additional time my gap years provided was invaluable. It allowed me to develop the best application I could, without feeling rushed.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe the variety of extracurriculars I was involved in, my strong academic performance in college, and my interview skills were the biggest strengths of my application. The passion I have for medicine and the extracurriculars I completed was evident in how I spoke about them and aligned with how I presented myself in my writing.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, but the majority of my schools were located in the Northeast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Office provides a framework that sets applicants up for success. It might seem odd to start working on your application in October when you cannot officially submit anything until May. However, things take far longer than you realize to complete.

In my case, I struggled with the personal statement for several months. Kemile sent me sample essays for inspiration and helped edit my rough drafts until I could finally piece together a narrative that best reflected my journey and the impact my experiences had on me.

Sending out a polished application early in the cycle is a huge advantage that is not stressed enough. Outside of writing, the office also helped me create a smart school list and practice for interviews. All of this guidance ensured I was a well-informed and prepared applicant.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: The admissions process is a lot of work, but you can manage it. The writing and interview prep needed to have a strong application are not things you can accomplish in an hour or two. You will need to chip away at everything a little bit each day. If you are working full time, it will feel as though you have a second job sometimes. However, through consistency and commitment, you can get everything done. Do not lose faith and take breaks when you need to!

Next, do not underestimate the importance of your writing. Yes, grades and MCAT score play a role in admissions, but your writing is how each school will learn more about who you are, outside of your stats. Make sure you are happy with the impression you are making.

Lastly, surround yourself with good people. There is a lot of uncertainty involved in the admissions process, and everyone experiences some level of fear and doubt. In those moments, you will need other people in your life to support and uplift you. I am grateful for the encouragement I received from the Pre-Health Office, family members, friends, and coworkers throughout the application cycle.


Headshot: Courtney Chambers

Name: Courtney Chambers
Major: Human Biology and Thomas Hunter Honors Program
Overall GPA: 3.84
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Since I was a child, I have been intrigued by the sciences and curious about the functions of the human body. These interests combined with the sense of fulfillment I receive from providing care to others led me into the field of medicine. I aspire to be a provider who utilizes research to help improve patient care and who helps to establish equity in care for those who are underserved.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  1. Clinical: Patient Care Volunteer at NYP Hospital, EMT with Cetronia Ambulance Corps, shadowing in orthopedic and cardiothoracic practices and operating rooms.
  2. Non-clinical: American Red Cross Volunteer with the Greater NY Red Cross Chapter, Manny Cantor Center, DOROT, and City Harvest; Pre-Health Mentor; Medical File Clerk at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
  3. Research: Nanoscience research at CUNY ASRC, clinical research at HSS in Sports Medicine, and the Columbia University REU Program.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Approximately 10-20 hours per week. It varied based on how many and what type of exams I had each week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I self-studied. Regarding practice exams, I used AAMC's four exams as my last practice exams before taking the MCAT.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took two gap years. Before going to medical school, I wanted more experience in playing a direct role in patient care. Being an EMT in these two years improved my confidence as a provider while I served patients of varying illnesses and injuries. My gap years were also used to enjoy time with the family, travel, and decompress before the rigors of medical school.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe my academic performance as an undergraduate while taking part in various extracurricular activities were strong aspects of my application. I dedicated a significant amount of time to doing community service, clinical volunteering, and serving as an EMT. Through this, I believe the commitments I have to serving underserved communities and people with medical needs were highlighted.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes. I applied to schools in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, and Washington, D.C.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office was instrumental in allowing me to be a competitive applicant to medical school. The Office made it clear to me the pathway and requirements of increasing my chances of matriculating. Throughout my time at Hunter, I would frequently meet with Kemile to provide updates on classes and extracurricular activities. Her feedback was very useful and I utilized her suggestions to make sure I was on the right track. I also had opportunities to meet with Kemile to organize a school list and review application drafts before submission. Additionally, I was given the opportunity to do traditional and MMI mock interviews with Nina and Veronica, respectively, which prepared me well for my interviews. Furthermore, many of the opportunities I had as an undergraduate and the extra-curricular activities I participated in were made known to me through the Pre-Health Listserv.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: I would say figure out what drew you to healthcare in the first place. Use this and your future career goals as motivations to get you through the rigors of taking challenging classes while taking part in extra-curricular activities. I would also like to remind you that “No man is an island.” Do not be afraid of asking for help in areas that are most challenging to you and do not underestimate the power of networking. During interviews, I would highly recommend you to just be yourself. Medical school (and other health profession schools) values diversity and only you can be you; do not try to be someone else. Also, try to apply to schools that place value or have missions that are similar to areas of your application you think are the strongest. Finally, make sure to highlight your strengths and how you can contribute to the school's community and ultimately, healthcare. Best of luck!


Headshot: Ellesa Naito

Name: Ellesa Naito
Major: Biochemistry, Special
Honors Curriculum
Overall GPA: 3.83
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: SUNY Downstate College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I've always wanted to be a doctor ever since I watched the physicians care for my father as he battled cancer. However, it was not until college that I started to understand why I really wanted to be a physician. My experiences in the clinical setting, mentoring, research, and my love of connecting with people in need really drove me to pursue a career in medicine. Studying medicine and treating patients is a privilege. I am excited to embark on this journey as a life-long learner and healer.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

Clinical experiences: Medical scribe at an urgent care clinic, physician shadowing at MSKCC, and Emergency Department volunteer at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Research: SCORE program at MSKCC and 2 research labs at Hunter College with poster and oral presentations.

Volunteer: Peer TA for General and Organic Chemistry, Hunter College peer advisor, Red Cross volunteer.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It varied depending on whether I had exams coming up, but I would say an average of 15 hours a week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, but I worked with an MCAT tutor weekly to review passage analysis and CARS. I utilized the Kaplan books and Khan Academy for content review while using AAMC, UWorld, and Altius for practice questions and exams.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes-I took 2 gap years. I used the first gap year to study to retake the MCAT and work on my application essays while working full time in an urgent care clinic. During my second gap year, I continued to work while in the application cycle and had a research paper published. My clinical experience during these years only reaffirmed my decision to pursue a career in medicine! I also used this time to travel and enjoy my hobbies such as running.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My interviews, essays, and letters of recommendation.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No, I applied mostly in the Northeast.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office was very instrumental for a successful application cycle. Nina helped me tremendously with my essay writing. Nina and Veronica also prepared me very well with mock traditional and MMI interviews, while Kemile helped me craft a solid school list. Checking in with the Advising Team since freshman year helped me form a relationship with them which was vital in my Pre-Med journey. I believe their advice helped me achieve multiple interviews and acceptances.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A:

  1. Surround yourself with like-minded people, mentors, and a support system! Having people beside you as you embark on the Pre-Med journey is very important!
  2. Just go for it. Even if you are shy in attending office hours, applying for an internship, or making new friends, just do it! It will expand your network and not only make you a stronger applicant, but you will see yourself grow as a person. You also never know if you end up getting the scholarship or internship you applied for!
  3. Do not compare yourself to others. I know it's easier said than done. Your journey is different from another person's journey. Focus on your own experiences to relay your unique story.

Headshot: Muhammad Nazim

Name: Muhammad Nazim
Major: Biological Sciences (Bioinformatics Concentration) and Thomas Hunter Honors
Overall GPA: 3.76
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: In high school, I wanted to become an aerospace engineer. I loved problem solving and it wasn't until I took biology and engaged in healthcare volunteering that I realized I wanted to pursue medicine. I love learning and want to become an expert in the field while impacting the lives of patients.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: During my freshman year, I volunteered in the ED of NYP Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and was part of the Scholar Bridges Program at Hunter. During my sophomore year, I volunteered as a Scholar Peer Leader, I began working as a Receptionist for Downtown Psychiatric Group, and I volunteered at HSS as a Service Excellence Volunteer. During my junior year, I volunteered as a medical scribe for a wound care physician, worked at the Laboratory of Evolutionary Bioinformatics at Hunter, volunteered with Weill Cornell's Heart-to-Heart Program and Opioid Overdose Prevention Program, and volunteered as a Gen Chem 1 and 2 TA and Scholar Seminar TA. During my senior year, I volunteered at the Laboratory of Genetics at The Rockefeller University and worked as a College Assistant to the Yalow Scholar's Program. I was also able to attend many national research conferences and gave an Oral Presentation at ABRCMS 2018 and Poster Presentations at ABRCMS, AMSA, and Hunter's UGRC throughout my junior and senior years.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I mainly paid attention to lecture and studied various amounts depending on the exam and difficulty of the course. I spent more time studying in my freshman and sophomore years as the courses were more difficult then and became easier as I took higher level classes.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I self-studied for the MCAT using the Kaplan Test Prep Books, UWorld, The 400-page Psych and Soc Review Document, MCAT Anki Decks available online, and all the AAMC resources.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took 2 gap years as I needed more time to study for the MCAT and I worked throughout both years at a health tech startup as a lead analyst.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe my strengths were in my extra-curricular activities. I spent a considerable amount of time volunteering in research and clinical opportunities and I believe it gave me a vast amount of knowledge to do well in answering questions during interviews.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to 34 schools, the majority being on the east coast but I did also apply to others throughout the country.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office gave me everything I needed to get accepted into medical school. They provided resources, mentorship, guidance, and support that allowed me to pursue many opportunities and prepared me thoroughly to be successful in the medical school application cycle.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: My greatest piece of advice would be to start working with the Pre-Health Advising Office as early as you can. You'll be able to tailor your college years in a way that allows you to have a great experience and accomplish all the goals you may have. I was very open to pursuing as many opportunities as I found interesting, and this allowed me to perform well in my classes while spending essentially 20-30 hours a week on extra-curricular activities for more than 2 years. I would highly recommend starting your pre-med journey as early as you can and to surround yourself with people who have similar goals. This made my experience very enjoyable and allowed me to thrive.


Headshot: Lesly Gabriela Diaz Chacha

Name: Lesly Gabriela Diaz Chacha
Major: Biochemistry & Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.67
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I am drawn to a career as a physician because I believe medicine intertwines science and social aspects of health in a beautiful and demanding way.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I did bench and clinical-based research and participated in the Summer Undergraduate Mentorship Program at Einstein. I also volunteered abroad for 3 summers.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Anywhere between 2 hours on a week with a light load to 6-8 hours when it was busier

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took two gap years. My primary reasons for doing so were that I wanted more time to apply through the Committee Letter process and I also wanted to work in a non-medical setting to better understand disadvantaged communities, so this experience could inform my path as a medical student and future doctor.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My personal statement, work/experiences, and interviews were my strengths as I did a lot of self-reflection that really helped me complete these aspects of my application.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to schools on both the East and West coasts.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: From the numerous revisions of my personal statement and work/experiences, to the mock interviews that were then followed by constructive feedback, the pre-health office was always there for me in my pursuit of becoming a medical student.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Stay true to yourself! This process is mentally and emotionally demanding, but you do a disservice to yourself when you don't take care of yourself and remember the reasons why you're doing this


Headshot: Joycatherine Yan

Name: Joycatherine Yan
Major: Biology
Overall GPA: 3.79
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My interest in medicine developed through my own personal experiences as a patient, as well as my love for science and dedication to service for others. New York City has privileged me with a wealth of opportunities to learn and understand the needs and challenges that local communities face. These experiences motivate me to pursue medicine in order to provide socially responsible and compassionate healthcare to patients and their communities.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Extensive clinical experience working as a clinical volunteer, scribe and medical assistant at various local hospitals and outpatient clinics; Mandarin Chinese-English/English-Mandarin Chinese interpreter for housing justice community organizations; Clinical research and volunteer group health mentor at Harlem Hospital; Facility Research Coordinator Analyst at the NYC Health + Hospitals Office of Research Administration

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I usually spent 10-15 hours per week studying for my classes. For exam weeks, I would increase the number of hours I would devote to studying.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I primarily self-studied. For content review, I used the Berkeley Review books for science subjects, and the Princeton Review book for the P/S section. I also supplemented my knowledge by using Khan Academy videos. For practice questions, I used UWorld and AAMC material. I would highly recommend investing in AAMC materials, given that the questions will most resemble the ones that you will find on the actual MCAT exam

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, because I wanted to gain more clinical and bench research experience, as well as to have more time to adequately prepare for the MCAT exam.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My strengths in my application were my extensive and varied clinical experiences, as well as my community service work with under-served populations in New York City.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, primarily in the Northeast region

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office has been instrumental to achieving my goals. Through the Pre-Health Advising Office, I have been able to pursue various clinical and research opportunities that were made available through their e-mail listserv, workshops that prepared me for my medical school application cycle, personal essay reviews, and mock interviews. Most importantly, your advisors are experienced and knowledgeable, and want to see you succeed. As long as you're proactive and willing to reach out, they will always be there to give you the best advice and guidance needed to help you achieve your goals

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: If you haven't met with your Pre-Health advisors yet, reach out to them right now! Your advisors are an excellent resource, and their primary mission is to see you succeed and achieve your dreams.

A: In addition to being organized and focused, it is also important to read about new developments in the healthcare field and the medical school application process, and to speak to other professionals and older students who have experience in these fields. Although the information may not seem applicable now while you are focused on your academics and extra-curricular activities, they will be helpful to you during interviews when you are discussing broader healthcare topics and will help you become a more well-informed and knowledgeable healthcare provider in the long-term.


Headshot: Ashanay Allen

Name: Ashanay Allen
Major: Psychology
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.71
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: When I was about 12 years old, I watched my mother struggle with painful ovarian cysts. Her initial avoidance in seeking medical care out of fear of missing work and the potential inability to financially support our family led her condition to progress to the point of unbearable monthly pain. Desperate to understand my mother's diagnosis, I began researching everything I could about ovarian cysts. Eventually, I became fascinated with the pathology of other reproductive illnesses, such as ovarian cancer and endometriosis and I knew that medicine was a field I wanted to explore as a career path.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Starting in my sophomore year, I worked as a full-spectrum doula at Bellevue Hospital and Planned Parenthood. I then joined both the Carribean and African Student Unions during my junior year at Hunter College, and remained active until graduation. In my senior year, I was the co-founder of a new club at Hunter, Campus Curlz, which focused on natural hair empowerment and improving economic opportunity for Black women. I also became heavily involved with research during my junior year and worked as a Student Research Associate (SRA) at Mount Sinai Hospital before treansitioning into a study coordinator role at a research lab focused on health disparities among marginalized populations.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I spent an average of 15 to 20 hours studying per week. I treated studying like a part-time job. However, the number of hours I spent study would drastically increase if I was preparing to take an exam.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: The first time I studied for the MCAT, I used the Kaplan prep course and the AAMC practice materials. However, I quickly realized that Kaplan's timeline and style of teaching did not suit my learning habits and I was incredibly anxious on the day of the test. The second time I took the test, I self-studied using UWorld, the Altius tests, Jack Westin for CARS prep, and the AAMC practice materials. I found that going at my own pace and using these materials better prepared me to succeed on the MCAT. I also felt calmer this time as I felt better prepared for the test.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took 3 gap years. I initially only planned to take two gap years because I knew that I needed a break between college and medical school. I also knew that I wanted to continue working in my research lab to gain more experience. However, during my second gap year, I took the MCAT and was not happy with my score. Therefore, I decided to take another gap year to improve my score and application.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I consider my personal statement, my improvement on the MCAT, and my work as a doula and in the research lab focused on health disparities to be my strengths. I believe these application components made my application stand out and speak to my resillience despite my background and personal struggles.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No, I mostly applied to schools in New York. I applied to a total of 13 schools; two were outside of New York State and two were outside of New York City.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office helped me tremendously to curate my application to highlight my strengths and work on my weak points. When I received my first MCAT score, I immediately spoke with Kemile and she reminded me that my score was not the end of the world. She encouraged me to take a short break and jump into studying again, this time with better study habits, study materials, and more prep time. When I received my second score, Kemile worked with me almost every week (sometimes every other week) to ensure that my application emphasized my strengths and why I would become a great physician. Later, when I started to receive interview invites, Nina and Veronica worked with me to ensure that I was fully prepared for my interviews and would put my best foot forward. During all of my interviews, I felt very comfortable and prepared because of their help and support.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: My advice to others is to reach out to the Pre-Health Advising Office as soon as possible. I made the mistake of trying to wait until I thought my application was "perfect" or when I had more to offer. However, the perfect time is as soon as possible so that they can help you start in the right direction and find a mentor.

I cannot stress too much how important it is to hvae a mentor throughout this process. Furthermore, find multiple mentors who can offer different perspectives of medicine and on your application.

In addition, you must find clinical, research and extracurricular activities that you enjoy doing. Don't start an activity because you think it will look good on your application. Admissions Committees can tell when someone is being genuine versus when that person is using an activity just to check a box, so it's better to find an activity that you are truly interested in and can speak passionately about than to find one that "looks good."

My last piece of advice is to ensure that you have a strong support system and that your mental health is supported. This is a long and difficult process, and having a good support system will make the process a little less daunting.


2021 Matriculants


Headshot: Soham Ghoshal

Name: Soham Ghoshal
Major: Biology
Minor: Mathematics
Overall GPA: 4.0
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Harvard Medical School.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I am drawn to medicine because it lies at the intersection of human connection, scientific inquiry, and social change. As a physician, I want to support patients and their families in their most difficult moments, and I hope to have a broader impact on healthcare through a combination of direct patient care and research.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I was involved in extensive research at Hunter College, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. I volunteered in the emergency room and in other units at the Mount Sinai Hospital, and I participated in various non-clinical programs at Hunter and Weill Cornell.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I studied 10-15 hours per week usually, more if there were exams coming up.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I did not use a test prep course. I would highly recommend getting a subscription to UWorld, and using all of the provided AAMC materials for the MCAT.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took one gap year in order to continue several research projects in the lab before I begin medical school.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Very involved research experiences, along with service and volunteering in various under-served and under-resourced communities.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, mostly east coast and mid-west.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising office helped me along every step of the process of applying to medical school. The Pre-Health Office’s committee letter application process, along with their interview prep and essay-prep helped me build the best application I can.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: While keeping in mind your bigger career goals, it is important to take things slowly and focus on one thing at a time—whether it is doing well in your classes in a particular semester, or making sure you are putting in your best effort during your summer research program. Be kind to everyone you meet and try to support others (especially your pre-med friends) in their own pursuits too!


Headshot: Wasie Karim

Name: Wasie Karim
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Arabic
Overall GPA: 3.96
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Harvard Medical School.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I was initially drawn to medicine through my own personal experiences as a patient. I had an incredible physician who exposed me to the intimate, human side of medicine, where you take on the privileged role of guiding people through some of their most vulnerable moments, whether you can or cannot actually cure or treat their condition. That, combined with physicians’ incredible potential to serve as educators and social justice advocates, drew me to medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Research. Inflammatory Bowel Disease Lab at Mount Sinai Hospital, Social Policy Research at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Clinical: Intensive Care Unit Clinical Volunteer, Pediatric Clinical Volunteer, and Infant Cuddler (I rocked babies to sleep) at Stony Brook and a pediatric gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Nonclinical. Cabin Counselor at Camp Oasis; Resident Assistant for Living@Hunter; Arabic Teaching Assistant; Study Abroad in Amman, Jordan; Macaulay Peer Mentor; Intern at FoodMarble.

Employment. Patient Safety Intern at ColumbiaDoctors; Pre-College Tutor for Kaplan; Front Desk Associate at Equinox.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: The amount varied with my coursework, ranging anywhere from 10 hours on a lighter week to as many as 35 hours during midterms or finals.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I self-studied for the MCAT. I liked self-studying because it allowed me to mix resources from different companies, and also let me tailor my studying to my weaknesses. I also found this to be much cheaper than a prep course. I personally used the Princeton Review content books, Khan Academy, Next Step’s practice tests, UWorld, Jack Westin’s Daily CARS Passages, Anki, and all the AAMC materials.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took two gap years to pursue an MPH at Columbia University before medical school, largely because I developed a passion for healthcare policy and social equity through my coursework at Hunter. I chose this route over a condensed MD/MPH program because I wanted to have a full two years to take more public health coursework. My long-term goals are directly related to public health, so I feel that my two gap years were worth the time.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I think my greatest strength was creating a narrative that tied my academic, extracurricular, and personal experiences together. Throughout college, I tried to approach pre-med with intentionality, pursuing the activities I felt most interested in or most passionate about. This gave my application continuity and depth. By pursuing research, volunteering, and other activities that were more aligned with my personal interests, I was able to collect stronger letters of recommendation and build a cohesive narrative in my application that clearly conveyed my interests and goals.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to 15 schools in the Northeast and 6 schools outside the Northeast.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
The Pre-Health Advising Office did a great job setting realistic expectations early on about how competitive the medical school application process is. I visited Kemile regularly to ensure I had an honest understanding of my candidacy for medical school, and she advised me on ways I could improve deficiencies in my application. When it came time to apply, Kemile and Veronica both provided invaluable feedback on my essays. I also scheduled multiple mock interviews with Veronica, all of which were very constructive. During these sessions, she made sure to push me out of my comfort zone, which was crucial because I would much rather have stumbled during a mock interview than during a real interview.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Don't treat pre-med like a checklist. It's easy to fall into the mindset of, “I'm premed, so I just need some clinical hours, nonclinical volunteering, research, and decent grades.” These things are important, but to the best of your ability, try to pursue activities and courses that excite you. That way, you can enjoy your activities over long periods of time, add depth to your experiences, secure stronger letters of recommendation, and reduce your chances of burning out. Similarly, don't feel like you have to be a science major if you are also interested in economics, human rights, English or any other subject—you'll have to take the medical school prerequisites no matter what major you select anyway. When you apply for medical school, it'll be much easier to write about your experiences this way because your passion will be genuine.

Maintain humility. Get advice from your mentors; don't take constructive criticism personally; approach every situation/person with the mindset that you can learn something from them; and reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has room to improve. Premed is a long path, and you will find more success along the way if you are willing to grow through the process.

Stay organized. We keep up with a lot of commitments as pre-health students, so it's helpful to have an organization system in place. I personally use a planner and make to-do lists to keep track of everything.


Headshot: Harry Kim

Name: Harry Kim
Major: Economics
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.55 (3.98 postbacc GPA)
Graduation Year: 2014
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My previous experience as an EMT and an Army medic.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: PTSD Research at Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic Sinai Research Associate at St. Luke’s and Mt. Sinai West; US Army Reserve; Team RWB (Veteran advocacy); General Chemistry TA; tutoring for student athletes and veterans; and emergency medical technician at InstaCare.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I studied between 20 and 30 hours, depending on the class work schedule for that week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes. I used the The Princeton Review and UWorld, supplemented with other free online resoSUNYrces.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I was on my 7th gap year technically, and in retrospect, it was great because extra experiences definitely strengthened my application in the long run.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: A variety of experiences came together, which helped me communicate the reason why I wanted to pursue medicine. Having served in the military, I believe, was a big plus because it gave me the kind of experience that I could not have found in NYC.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes. West coast and East coast mainly.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: In my opinion, as a post-baccalaureate student who was looking to enhance his academic record, the Pre-Health Advising Office’s committee letter was vital to my success this application cycle. Working with the advisors to prepare for admissions interviews was also incredibly helpful on top of the moral support I received through my years at Hunter College.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Most important thing is to not give up in the face of doubt. Stick to the timeline, keep going, and communicate with the Pre-Health Office! This applies to everything: the coursework, MCAT prep, AMCAS, secondary applications, CASPER, VITA, SJT, and the interview process.


Head Shot: Yevgeniy Busarov

Name: Yevgeniy Busarov
Major: Biology, Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.92
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: It was my personal experience of being a patient that initially sparked my interest in medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Lead rescuer in Rescuing Leftover Cuisine; Volunteer Coordinator in the musical program for the Hispanic population of Tarrytown; Shadowing a doctor in ER; Volunteering in a microscopy laboratory; Tutor in City Tutors.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: During my commute to and from Hunter College, approximately two hours a day, I was reading textbooks. When I had time between classes, I preferred to reflect on the information in my head. I spent a few hours doing problems after classes. I was engaged most of the time of my day here and there, about 4-6 hours, depending on the amount of material. One day a week I gave myself a day off from studying.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, The Princeton Review. I received a scholarship through the Pre-Health Office at Hunter College, and the course helped me.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took 2 GAP years. I wanted to devote my time to study for the MCAT and finish the research project I had been working on. Also, the additional gap years made me more mentally prepared for medical school.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My strengths are that a unique non-traditional story and strong grades and scores. Also, I spent a lot of time preparing for my interviews.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to medical schools in New York State and nearby states. I applied to both MD and DO schools.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Office provided me with guidance along the way and helped me to obtain the scholarship for MCAT prep. Also, Kemile helped me to create a school list and Veronica helped me with the interview process. Throughout my time at Hunter College, the Pre-Health Office planned and held numerous events and doctor speaker series which are helpful and inspiring.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: I would suggest to aspiring applicants to find a mentor and look for opportunities that match your interests. Also, I would suggest exploring new, unfamiliar specialties in medicine to find new interests. It is important to stay dedicated and focused for long periods of time, but it is also crucial to find time for hobbies and friends.


Photo: D'Nea Galbraith

Name: D'Nea Galbraith
Major: Biology, Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.92
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Albany Medical College.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I was always interested in science, and I knew I would pursue a career in science. When I started Hunter, I was aiming for a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. However, I realized I was unfulfilled with solely research and became drawn to patient interaction when I shadowed doctors at New York-Presbyterian.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I was in the BP-ENDURE program which is a Neuroscience Research Fellowship. I was also a Pre-Health Mentor and the Secretary of AMSA.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A:I took a test prep course years before my MCAT but not while actively studying.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took a GAP year to gain more clinical experience as most of my experiences throughout college were in research.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe the strengths of my application are both my research and clinical experiences: I was a research scholar in college and worked as a patient care coordinator at Memorial Sloan Kettering throughout my gap year.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A:Having a pre-health advisor helped me stay on track as a premed student. It was also helpful to have a space to meet like-minded students along the way. Throughout the medical school application process, several advisors in the pre-health advising office supported me.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: You are NOT an imposter! As cliche as it sounds, you miss 100 percent of the shots that you don't take. There were several times when I wanted to give up or turn back because I just didn’t have enough faith in myself to keep going. I felt like an imposter—this field was not for me. But my entire journey taught me to believe in myself and to keep moving forward. Imposter Syndrome is real, but don’t let it get the best of you, STOP you. Keep your eyes on the prize and learn to believe in yourself.


Headshot: Tahir Ramzan

Name: Tamir Ramzan
Major: Biology/Bioinformatics
Overall GPA: 3.88
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: SUNY Downstate College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I’ve always admired doctors from a young age. My pediatrician was a huge role model for me. However, it was not until high school that I truly learned about the field of medicine. After volunteering at Kings County Hospital, I grew to really enjoy helping patients and decided to pursue a career in healthcare. During my undergraduate years, I learned more about medicine and gained experiences that solidified my interest in the field.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: At Hunter College, I was a peer advisor for the STEM Enrichment Scholars program where I helped a Hunter College High School student during their transition to college. I was also an ambassador for the Minority Association of Pre-medical Students (MAPS), where I was responsible for helping club members with questions and assisted with setting up events held by our club. Outside of Hunter College, I volunteered at New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital as a patient care volunteer. I assisted the nursing staff and performed various duties that ensured patient safety and satisfaction. I was also a Lead Rescuer for Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, an organization aimed at alleviating hunger by reallocating leftover food from various businesses and restaurants to the needy. As a Disaster Action Team service associate at the American Red Cross, I worked with a team to provide financial assistance and emotional support to people affected by disasters throughout the five boroughs.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 25-30 hours a week

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, my preparation involved self-studying using online resources.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I did not take a gap year before applying.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe my research experience was one of my greatest strengths on my application. I have been working as a research assistant in a bioinformatics research lab since my sophomore year. My skills and knowledge in the field of bioinformatics helped me stand out in a large application pool. I was also able to present my research at various research conferences throughout the country and connect with researchers and healthcare professionals.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to schools located on the East Coast mainly to stay close to my family.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office was an amazing resource that helped me navigate the application cycle. It frequently held workshops that taught me more about the application cycle and other important information. The Pre-Health Advising Office advisors were always supportive and responded quickly to any questions or concerns that I had. Additionally, the mock interviews were great in helping me prepare for my actual interviews.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: For future applicants, I would advise them to prewrite their essays well in advance. The application cycle is already a long and taxing process, but prewriting essays can help lessen the workload for you. In addition to the personal essays, there will be numerous secondary essays, and sometimes even tertiary essays, that you will need to complete. Prompts for secondary essays can be found online and are often reused each cycle. Writing the essays for each of your schools in advance will allow you to focus on other aspects of the cycle.


Headshot: Halyna Krylyuk

Name: Halyna Krylyuk
Major: Political Science
Overall GPA: 3.80
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My family's involvement in medicine initially sparked my interest in the field. As I began to volunteer in various areas of healthcare, I confirmed that this was the career for me. I enjoy the aspect of lifelong learning, potential for teaching/research/etc., and the devotion to care that medicine encompasses.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I completed volunteer work with Coney Island Hospital, PHMI, the Remote Resource Initiative, and Helpers for Covid 19. I volunteered at a research lab at the Hansjorg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU, and shadowed a dermatologist. I worked as a tutor, and at a dental office.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I would spend about 30 hours per week studying, but this number would change based on workload and exam schedules.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No. I self-studied for the MCAT.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: No, I chose not to take a gap year.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I think my MCAT score, my personal statement, my research experience, and my interviews are the strengths of my application.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, along the East Coast and California.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health office helped me achieve my goals by keeping me accountable for staying on track with all the parts of my application. When it was time to apply, the office helped me narrow down my school list, and prepared me thoroughly for the Casper exam, traditional interviews, and MMIs.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Set firm goals, but be kind to yourself throughout the process. Do not hesitate to reach out for help when you need it. But most importantly, make sure that this field is really what you want to do in life, because once you make that commitment, you have endless motivation to follow through with everything the process requires.


Headshot: Mahdi Taye

Name: Mahdi Taye
Major: Human Biology
Overall GPA: 3.80
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: During a heritage trip to my ethnic homeland of Palestine, I had the opportunity to witness unequivocal health disparities across border lines. I clearly saw the roles that environmental, political, and social conditions can play in one's overall quality of life, health span, and lifespan.

When I arrived back to the States, I realized that individuals in underserved communities across America face many of the same health barriers that Palestinians face in their homeland. As I began cultivating an interest in biology and chemistry, my focus turned to nutrition and its role in preventing, halting, and even reversing burdening chronic diseases.

I view plant-based nutrition as one of the most important tools of preventive medicine, and I believe that health equity can be promoted by incorporating individualized preventive nutrition interventions in clinical practice.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  1. Clinical Research Associate in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone and Bellevue Hospital
  2. Mount Sinai C.A.R.E volunteer
  3. Volunteer Group Leader of the Eva Kastan Grove Service Corps in Jackson, Mississippi
  4. Public Health Research Associate with AAHNA (Arab American Health Network and Research Allies) working on projects aimed at enriching the literature on Arab-American health.
  5. Student Shadow at the Lenox Hill Hospital, Neurosurgical ICU
  6. Peer Advisor for the Human Biology Program at Hunter College
  7. Volunteer Food Rescuer for Rescuing Leftover Cuisine
  8. Co-organizer of the New York Chapter of Chilis on Wheels
  9. Volunteer skate instructor at Skate Brooklyn
  10. Volunteer at the Bowery Mission

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It truly varied depending on how many pre-medical prerequisite courses I was taking during a particular semester, but I would study an average of about 12-15 hours per week. I always made sure to allot sufficient time prior to exams and deadlines to prepare. I have never heard of a successful pre-med student who procrastinates and crams for exams.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I self-studied.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I did take a gap year. I thoroughly enjoyed my gap year, and remained productive while also dabbling in hobbies that I never had the free time to explore, such as reading post-colonial literature. My gap year also provided me with the opportunity to advance my research skills and continue my work on two research projects.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Overall, I would say that the strengths of my application were the robustness of my “story,” the consistencies in my experiences (focus on preventive medicine), as well as the long-term commitments that I have made in my experiences. Additionally, I would also have to say that the sheer number of hours that I have committed to community service work were a strength in my application.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A:Yes, I applied nationally to 27 schools (9 DO programs and 18 MD programs).

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Above all, the Pre-Health Advising Office helped me achieve my goals by forcing me to reflect upon the question why I want to pursue medicine. In fact, I went through about 7 iterations of my personal statement with the advising team. Additionally, the Pre-health Advising Office always made sure that I was on track with my coursework, research work, and service work. The Pre-Health Advising Office did their best to ensure that I was the strongest applicant that I could be.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: I would encourage everyone to spend a great deal of time self-reflecting on the role that you envision yourself playing in the medical field. Everything falls into place once you have a more clarified vision on why it is you want to make this lifelong commitment and pursue medicine.


Headshot: Daniela Yakobashvili

Name: Daniella Yakobashvili
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Computer Science
Overall GPA: 3.80
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: As someone who was an avid athlete, and in the pursuit of optimizing my own physical capabilities, I tried to teach myself everything from muscular physiology to nutrient metabolism. Studying how the human body works fascinated me. When I became a trainer at a sports rehabilitation center, however, I discovered the ways in which the human body doesn’t work, and that was what truly aroused my curiosity for medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Researcher in a bio-nanotechnology lab; Medical shadow at the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center NYP; participant in the Practicing Medicine Program at Weill Cornell Medicine; ER volunteer at Staten Island University Hospital; technician at Fusion Physical Therapy & Sports Performance; ambassador for the Pre-Health Mentoring Initiative; Peer TA for biochemistry; and Hunter Women’s Varsity Tennis (Go Hawks!)

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I studied between 20 to 30 hours per week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took a gap year because I had only made the decision I wanted to pursue a medical degree at the end of my third year, so I needed extra time to improve my resume and study for my MCAT.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My research experience and specifically, the several conferences I attended and awards I won on behalf of my work.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No. I chose to apply early decision to NJMS because it was my first choice school.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Office helped to keep me on schedule to make sure I had all of the materials I needed to submit a well-rounded application to medical school. They also helped me find great volunteer and clinical opportunities, draft my applications, and prepare for interviews. I partly attribute my success to their constant support in my endeavors.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Do NOT choose extracurricular activities that you “think” would look impressive to medical schools. Find experiences you truly enjoy; this way you will get the most out of what you do and indirectly end up making yourself a stronger applicant for medical schools. Be authentic and genuine! If the experience you want is unavailable, then create it! Do not be afraid to call up a place you’ve always wanted to work at and ask if they have any positions available. Be your own advocate!


Headshot: Giussepe Yanez

Name: Giussepe Yanez
Major: Biological Sciences
Overall GPA: 3.80
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Duke University School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I was drawn to medicine by the versatility of paths that I saw physicians pursue throughout their careers. The field allows me to bring together my various passions in research, global health, and work within local communities. Medicine allows us to directly impact underserved populations and combat the barriers that create health disparities. I was particularly drawn to the need for more underrepresented students in medicine so that we may provide care for our communities.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I took part in Research, the Heart-to-Heart Outreach Program through Weill Cornell Medicine, Pharmacy Volunteer, Hospital Patient Navigator, Sports Leagues for Kids, Mentorship Programs, Peer Health Exchange, and Physician Shadowing.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Around 25-30 hours a week

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, Kaplan. I used it more for the content review and combined it with other resources including the AAMC materials, Berkley Review, Next Step, and UWorld.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took several gap years and used this time to improve my academic credentials and explore research opportunities. I worked full-time conducting basic science research and also prepared for my MCAT.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My research experience was my greatest strength because I had the opportunity to work on various longitudinal projects for several years. Through my research experiences, I accumulated a deeper understanding of what bench work entails and the types of challenges that come with it. Additionally, I was able to directly see the crucial role that research plays throughout the field of medicine.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, I applied broadly across the country and was open to schools in a wide range of regions.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A:The Pre-Health Advising Office supported my goals from the very first meeting I had with a peer advisor. From early on, the advisors helped me develop a long-term plan that would work for my specific situation. From workshops to individual meetings, the advising office connected me to volunteer and professional development opportunities throughout NYC. The Pre-Health advisors helped me through each step of the application process and provided plenty of opportunities for individual mock interviews, writing revisions, and decision-making counseling.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Pursue your own interests and passions without comparing yourself to your peers. Do not feel like you have to do the typical Pre-Health extracurricular activities, and make sure to follow your unique path to medicine. There are many applicable skills you can develop through activities that aren’t directly related to medicine. The years before medical school are a great time to explore things outside of medicine so you can continue to develop them throughout your career. You will find that many of these interests and experiences will help you better connect with your patients and colleagues in the future.


Headshot: Alexis Nduka

Name: Alexis Nduka
Major: Human Biology
Minor: Political Science
Overall GPA: 3.60
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Geisinger Commonwealth Medical School.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Apart from patient care and my interest in biology, what drew me to medicine is the field’s multidimensionality. I love the fact that various factors such as SES, religion, and race intersect with medicine. This calls on me to remain inquisitive and informed on mitigating factors that affect patient health outcomes. I also look forward to building long-term relationships with patients of various backgrounds and health conditions. I am eager to be in the position of treating and educating my patients in the hopes that they will not only implement positive changes into their lifestyle but also educate their extended family members and others.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Volunteered with Project Healthcare at Bellevue Hospital, interned at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, participated in the Harvard University Divinity and Explorations program, Vice President of AMSA at Hunter College, participated in the Narrative Medicine workshops held at Hunter College (in collaboration with Columbia University), played steel pan in my church’s steel pan group, served as recording secretary in my church’s women’s ministry, served as a Peer TA for Organic Chemistry, worked as a receptionist/medical assistant at an outpatient vein surgery center, volunteered as a research intern at Hunter College in the Anthropology Department, worked at Columbia Medical Center as a Clinical Research Assistant in the Aging and Dementia department, worked at Zara as a sales associate, worked at Hunter College as a teacher’s assistant (adjunct lecturer) in organic chemistry.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Upwards of 35 hours a week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I used The Princeton Review test prep course.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes. I took gap years to save money for the application, the MCAT exam, and possible travel fees. I also took gap years to study for the MCAT and strengthen my research experience.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Although health experience is crucial when applying to medical school, a notable strength in my application was the diversity of my extracurricular activities. As you can see from my activities list, I was involved in various programs of different disciplines. I participated in those programs because I wanted to understand how different factors (like religion, public policy, etc) impact the delivery of healthcare. The diversity of my experiences have not only made my AMCAS application stand out but they have also created unique conversations during interviews.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, I did.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office was instrumental in gaining admission into medical school. During my pre-med journey, the Pre-Health Office sent information on internships, job ads, and summer programs. I participated in Project Healthcare, a summer program at Bellevue Hospital that gave me over 300 clinical hours in their emergency department. The Pre-Health Office also assisted in editing my essays to various programs. I especially appreciate Nina spending several sessions with me so that I could complete these essays by their deadline. Kemile was always willing to provide counsel both during my undergraduate years and post-graduation. The Pre-Health Advising Office went above and beyond, offering clarity when, at times, the pre-med journey looks hazy. I wholeheartedly believe I could not have done this without you all. Thank you!

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: My advice is: participate in programs because you’re interested in them, not solely because it is health-based. It is easier to talk about something when you are passionate about it and it is good to have interests outside of medicine. Your mental health will thank you!


Headshot: Michelle Amankwah

Name: Michelle Amankwah
Major: Biological Sciences
Overall GPA: 3.54
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My grandparents’ limited access to healthcare and my desire to understand the diseases they suffered from became the impetus of my devotion to pursuing medicine. Growing up, I missed the chance to form a relationship with my grandparents since they died before I was born. My passion for the sciences coupled with my dedication to serving the underserved led me to pursue medicine. With an interest in global health, becoming a physician advocate will allow me to aid in the elimination of health disparities in disadvantaged populations, starting with my own. I am inspired to empower my community through a career in medicine by providing equal and quality healthcare access for all.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Afterschool Science Instructor and Substitute Teacher at Friends Seminary, Tutoring, Wound Care Intern, PHMI Mentor, Student Volunteer at AHRCNYC with Hunter College, EDCEMP Volunteer at Montefiore Medical Center, and Research Associate at The Brooklyn Hospital Center.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Depending on the course and extracurriculars that I was involved in, the times varied. I studied weekly with my peers after science courses to review and spent some time studying individually. The amount of time spent studying increased before exams.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, but it was only helpful for reviewing content. I also found Kaplan books, UWorld, Khan Academy—especially for Psych/Soc, and resources offered by AAMC to be very helpful.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took time to study for my MCAT, strengthen my application, and also to work on my finances.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe that my strengths were my grades, which displayed an upward trend indicating resilience and determination, my personal story and motives for pursuing a career in medicine, and my extracurriculars.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Being a first-generation college student, there were many things that I was not aware of, especially being the first in my family to pursue medicine. Transitioning from high school into college was a very stressful ordeal. The Pre-Health Advising Office offered significant support that helped me in this journey. Kemile Jackson helped me map out a realistic course plan each semester as a pre-health student and provided me with recommendations of resources and tools that I needed to succeed (i.e. online resources, additional textbooks, tutors). The Pre-Health Advising Office also kept me informed about different programs that I could engage in for extracurriculars and provided workshops that were extremely helpful and insightful for the journey as a pre-health student. When the time came to begin applying in what was a different and difficult year for everyone, Kemile helped me carve out my school choices and together, we found schools whose missions aligned with my passions and goals as a future physician. When it came to my personal statement, primary and secondary applications, the Pre-Health advisors read through them and provided me with constructive feedback to further strengthen my essays. Lastly, when it came time for interviews, I had mock interviews with Nina Ledis, where she provided me with guidance that helped me feel confident and prepared for my interviews.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Please, please, believe in yourself and don't give up. There may be some challenges along the way but don’t let that push you away from your dream or goals. “Success is not how high you jump, but it is how high you bounce when you hit rock bottom.” Remember the reason why you started on this journey and let that be your motivation. Stay informed and seek help when needed from the Pre-Health Office; they will inform you of anything and everything you need to know. They will help you craft a plan that is geared towards your passions and goals. Find mentors and a strong support system that will be there for you through the process. Remember that everyone’s journey is different and unique, stay true to your dream and go after it. Trust and enjoy the process and journey. Remember to take care of yourself, your future self will thank you! Wishing you the best of luck!


Headshot: Ismat Zerin

Name: Ismat Zerin
Major: Biochemistry
Overall GPA: 3.49
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My experiences in clinical settings drew me to the field of medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I was an Emergency Room Volunteer and Patient Care Unit Volunteer; I conducted clinical research through the Research Associate Program at NYU; I performed Biochemistry research in Dr. David Foster’s lab at Hunter College; I worked as a Lab Technician at Weill Cornell Medicine; and I was also a member of the Hunter College Chapter of the American Red Cross

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I did not keep an exact record of my hours but I would spend a lot of time in the Hunter Library. I think it was dependent on the classes I was taking. Some classes required more effort than others. I am also a visual learner so I used lots of YouTube videos to understand difficult concepts. As a result, I probably spent more hours learning the material and studying for exams than other students in the course.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I used the Princeton Review course, but I do think it’s going to depend on you. You have to put in the time and effort on your own in addition to attending the class sessions. Attending the classes alone will not help you score well; it didn’t for me at least. You have to take many practice exams and try to understand what type of questions are most difficult for you. Timing your exams is also very important because when I took longer to complete the sections, my scores were higher. However, the MCAT is a timed exam so you have to become skilled at managing your time during the exam.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took 2 gap years and did a master’s program to enhance my academic profile and gain more professional experiences before starting medical school.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My volunteer, research, and leadership roles were the strengths in my application. Medical schools want you to be able to work on teams as well as take on leadership roles because as a physician you will be working with a medical team as well as acting as a leader. Research is a big part of medicine, too, and you can either be part of clinical research or bench research. The important part of being involved in research is being passionate about the work you’re doing. It is important to find a research field that you’re particularly interested in. Also, working within the healthcare field is a tremendous advantage, especially if you work with patients. You can also check out the AAMC core competencies webpage to learn more. Link provided below.

https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/what-medical-schools-are-looking-understanding-15-core-competencies

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to medical schools across the country this past cycle. The first cycle that I applied, I chose both MD and DO schools in the US and one school in Nicosia.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Kemile was available to talk to me whenever I was having trouble deciding on what to do at different stages of my journey. She helped me choose the master’s program that I ended up doing and she provided lots of details as to how to enhance my profile. Also, I asked Veronica Mitchell for help with my application materials and when it was time for me to interview she did a mock interview with me. Veronica boosted my confidence and helped me become comfortable with interviewing.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: If this is what you want to do, don’t give up! Sometimes you have to hear the hard truth to re-evaluate and enhance your medical school applicant profile. I did not want to do a master’s program but Kemile advised me to do it, and it made all the difference in making me a stronger candidate for medical school. So I would say you should trust your Pre-Health advisors because they do have a lot of experience and they can help you obtain better outcomes. I did not have a competitive undergraduate GPA but I knew that this is the field I wanted to pursue so I tried my hardest to keep adding to my resume as advised by Kemile. I eventually became a competitive applicant and now I am very happy to report that I will start medical school in Fall 2021.


Headshot: Fadi Daniel Masoud

Name: Fadi Daniel Masoud
Major: Chemistry (Biochemistry Concentration)
Minor: African and Latino Studies
Overall GPA: 3.46
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I always found a sense of meaning in the service of those in need. With a career in medicine, I felt that I could gain more skills and knowledge to better support those in my community, especially the underserved. Knowing that I can apply my love of biomedical sciences every day in my interactions with patients, in a compassionate way, grants me a sense of satisfaction.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Working in research, volunteering as a patient advocate in a hospital, shadowing physicians, gathering and delivering food to deliver to homeless shelters in my community, and starting an online tutoring program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It varied based on the courses I was taking each semester but probably between 10 to 15 hours a week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No I self-studied using resources such as Khan Academy, Uworld, Next-Step, and the official MCAT AAMC materials. Make sure to make use of the FAP AAMC resources to help you save on exam and application fees. Check out Reddit for resources, advice, and memes.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, because it gave me time to strengthen my application and prepare for the application cycle.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My resiliency in my journey to medicine, research experience, and leadership experiences where I served my community. I felt my personal statement, application, and experiences really gave schools insight into who I really was.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No. I applied only to schools only on the East Coast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: They were honest with me and gave me the advice I needed to hear to help make me a competitive applicant. Kemile, Nina, and Veronica all offer the guidance you will need to achieve your goals with their own unique perspectives.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Take it one step at a time because going into medicine is a marathon, not a race. You have to keep moving forward even when it gets difficult but that doesn't mean you have to overwhelm yourself. Even if you slow down for a bit, as long as you keep moving you'll be fine. Also don't be scared of failure or of people telling you no. The only way you can progress and grow is by putting yourself out there and doing your best in every situation you can. Time management is key for your wellbeing and your success. Lastly, trust the process.


2020 Matriculants


Headshot: Sun Young Chung

Name: Sun Young Chung
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience, Public Policy
Overall GPA: 3.97
Graduation Year: 2016
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Harvard Medical School.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Medicine unites two elements that I love: discovering and understand the mysteries of the human body and working closely with people. I'm a people-person through and through; being able to treat patients directly and work alongside other health professionals in a team-oriented environment are exciting. I aim to pursue academic medicine and hope to remain engaged in research throughout my career.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: New York Cares (as a volunteer and team leader), various hospital volunteering positions across different departments at Sloan Kettering and NYP-Weill Cornell, and an advocate for victims of violence/abuse at the NYP-Weill Cornell Emergency Dept. I was also performing neuroscience lab research for over a decade since high school (including: Summer research at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Stem cell research and Parkinson's disease/regenerative medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering throughout and post undergrad).

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Variable: Between 10-20 hours depending on exam schedules/deadlines.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, but I did not find it helpful. I generally would not recommend prep courses as they can be a money/time sink and create a false sense of security.

Q: Did you take a gap year? If so, why?
A: Yes, to continue working on my projects in lab, strengthen my personal finances, and study for the MCAT.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Extensive research, and my experiences in service/volunteering. I pursued a diversity of activities across research, volunteering, and public health.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, lots and lots of schools.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Committee Letters are essential for building a strong application. I think in-person advising was so helpful as the medical school applications process (in the years leading up to it—from pre-reqs to essays/interviews) can be mentally very taxing. The pre-health advising website and listserv also has a wealth of information that can be helpful to students.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: I'd like to believe that “where there's a will, there's a way.” With dedication, optimism and a clear set of goals, (and guidance from wise/compassionate individuals around you), even the unimaginable can be achieved. The path to medical school was not an easy, straightforward one, but I believe that persistence and hard work can make a great difference. I am extremely grateful for many things and I truly could not have done this alone.


Headshot: Agnes Ivaskeviciute-Jiang

Name: Agnes Ivaskeviciute-Jiang
Major: Chemistry (Biochemistry track),
Human Biology (Human Organizations track)
Minor: Economics
Overall GPA: 4.0
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: SUNY Downstate College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Medicine was the perfect career for me when trying to combine two of my passions—social work and science. I wasn't able to make up my mind about which path I should choose, so medicine was a career that combined both in the best way possible. I am from Lithuania, and we have to choose our careers while still in high school, with no undergraduate studies before entering medical school. I completed four out of six years of medical studies there, which put my decision to become a doctor to the test countless times.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Clinical volunteering and shadowing, research (bench research at Hunter College and clinical research at NYU Langone), math tutoring, and pre-health mentoring.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 20 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I self-studied.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: No, I did not take a gap year.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No, I applied to 12 schools total, all on the East Coast.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The most helpful aspect for me was the advisors' availability when writing my personal statement and crafting secondary essays. English is not my first language, so it was very reassuring to have someone available to look over my written material. Also, I had a great experience when preparing for medical school interviews. The mock interviews were very useful and helped to build confidence.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Prioritize your GPA and your MCAT scores. Those are the first two things the admission offices will see. Make sure you're involved in meaningful extracurricular activities that you are passionate about, and can talk about in great detail. In a pool of applicants with great GPAs and great MCAT scores, your extracurriculars and your personal experiences are what will set you apart from others. If it's too hard to maintain a high GPA and be involved in extracurriculars, take a gap year so you can focus on one thing at a time. Lastly, do not get intimidated. It is easy to undermine your own achievements when comparing yourself to others. The truth of the matter is, no two applicants are the same. You have your own story, your own obstacles that you had to overcome, your own strengths and achievements. Make sure you recognize what sets you apart from others and emphasize it in your application. Best of luck!


Headshot: Sophie Hudes

Name: Sophie Hudes
Major: Biochemistry, Special Honors
Minor: Hebraic Studies
Overall GPA: 3.96
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Medical School of International Health (at Ben Gurion University).

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I have been interested in medicine since I was a child, but I only began to understand what the field really involved right before starting college. Personal and professional experience confirmed my interests and led me to where I am now. I am passionate about medicine and global health and hope to one day combine these interests in my future career. This medical school program has a specific focus in global health, and I am truly excited to study both much needed fields.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I was the president of the Society of Bioethics and Medicine and the treasurer for the Gift of Life Club at Hunter. I have volunteered in the Bellevue Hospital (PAVERS program), AlYN Hospital, and Hadassah Hospital. I also served as a senior first responder for Magen David Adom, the national ambulence service in Israel. I shadowed physicians in Greece through the Atlantis program and was a volunteer in Costa Rica for the Foundation of International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC). I was a campus ambassador for Gift of Life and a campus representative for FIMRC as well. I was fortunate enough to be a research intern in Dr. Nancy Greenbaum's biochmesitry laboratory at Hunter College and volunteer in the Heart to Heart program through Weill Cornell.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Depending on the course and time of semester, I would study around 5 hours a week per course, including the time it took me to complete homework and assignments/papers.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I used the Princeton Review Course for the MCAT that I found through Hunter's Pre-Health Office in the fall of my Junior year.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took a “gap” year before starting college to study abroad in Israel and am matriculating to medical school straight after graduating college.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I consider my strengths to be my letters of recommendation and my personal statement/essays. Standing out with diverse interests and a true and clear passion for medicine (or any career aspiration) is important and I believe my application demonstrated who I am and what I want to accomplish.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied nationally and internationally (to programs affiliated/based in the U.S.).

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Their constant advice on my application and its contents was extremely helpful and they were approachable for any small question I had throughout my college career. Mock interviews were also an incredible opportunity for me to practice and allowed me to feel comfortable expressing to schools who I was and why they should want me at their institution.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: My advice would be to take it slow and breathe. This is a long and grueling process that I have no doubt, with some determination and positivity, can be achieved. Take everything step by step and try to plan out what you should work on one step at a one time. Constantly remind yourself why you are putting yourself under immense stress and do not forget to relax and make time for yourself.

School-wise, definitely try to create close relationships with professors since you never know what opportunity might present itself to you. Letters of recommendation are always stronger when the person knows you and can talk about how hard working you are, and not just that you earned an A. I would also say ask around if possible, to network and find research or other volunteering opportunities. There are so many places happy to train new students that are eager to learn.

In terms of applying, research schools that best fit your interest because they will see right through your trying to fit yourself into what you think they want their student to be. Try to find somewhere that gets you excited thinking about all the opportunities you could have, and a place that can set you off where you want to be in the future while also being realistic! Basically, keep up the amazing work you are doing, and I am sure you will do great!


Headshot: Yasmine Oprea

Name: Yasmine Oprea
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Sociology
Overall GPA: 3.96
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I am interested in medicine because it is the ideal combination of science, research, education, and service. I am drawn to this profession as it integrates all of these interests—medicine encourages scientific inquiry and innovation through research, allows for the continuous improvement of scientific knowledge, and provides the unique opportunity to use this knowledge to make human connections by caring for patients.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Laboratory research in the Department of Biological Sciences at Hunter College, CDCB Summer Research Program at Oregon Health and Science University, teaching health education through Peer Health Exchange, clinical volunteering at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, volunteering for the Weill Cornell Heart-to-Heart Outreach Program. I also participated in mentorship programs as well as physician shadowing, served as a Biochemistry Peer TA at Hunter College, and was part of the McNulty Scholars Program.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: The number of hours that I spent studying for courses varied each week, but I would always make to-do lists to organize my time and make sure to prioritize courses for which I had upcoming exams or deadlines.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I did not use a test prep course to study for the MCAT. The resources I found to be most helpful were: all of the AAMC materials, Kaplan reviw books, ExamKrackers review books, as well as NextStep practice tests.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took one gap year, during which I worked at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, because I was interested in further exploring scientific research and working in a lab full-time. It was a great opportunity to build upon my research skills and experience, all while learning so much about another field of science and contributing to cutting-edge research. During this time, I was also able to focus on my medical school applications.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My strong interest in research as well as my involvement in a wide range of community service experiences. Additionally, I believe that forming relationships with my mentors and advisors was incredibly valuable, because they not only served as a great support system but were also able to convey my strengths well in my letters of recommendation.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office has been such a significant source of support throughout the entirety of my undergraduate career as well as throughout the medical school application process. Early on, the pre-health advisors helped guide and encourage me in pursuing extracurricular and research opportunities, ensuring that I was on the right path to becoming a strong applicant. During the application process, the pre-health advisors were especially helpful in reviewing my personal statement and all other application materials, as well as conducting mock interviews. I am very grateful for all of the mentorship and support that I have received from the Pre-Health Office!

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Applying to medical school is a long and challenging process, so seek out mentors and a strong support system. Be proactive in identifying and engaging in extracurricular opportunities, and don't be afraid to explore a broad range of experiences. However, dedicate your time to the activities that you gravitate most towards and are truly passionate about. Seek out guidance and feedback from advisors throughout the process, make sure to apply only when fully prepared, and stay focused and confident!


Headshot: Marcus Bonoan

Name: Marcus Bonoan
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Sociology, Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.90
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: As a future physician, I want to have the ability to improve the quality of life of patients and their families through my knowledge and compassion. There is so much stress and anxiety that comes with health issues. However, having a skilled and empathetic physician that you can trust makes a huge difference in not only one's physical well-being but also one's mental and emotional well-being. I was able to witness this when my uncle was struggling with pancreatic cancer. Even though this time was difficult, his oncologist assured our family through her words and actions that my uncle was receiving the best possible care. She exhausted all her resources in treating my uncle's illness, and she provided our family guidance and support throughout the process. This experience motivated me to pursue a career in medicine and to spend my undergraduate career researching pancreatic cancer and volunteering at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. One day I hope to have the ability to provide patients with the same peace of mind this oncologist gave my family.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  • Pre-health Mentor and event coordinator
  • Skirball Science Learning Center Biology Tutor
  • Yalow Scholar Mentor
  • Resident Assistant at Brookdale Residence Hall
  • Volunteer at MSKCC Urgent Care Center
  • Volunteer at Metropolitan Hospital's Physical Rehabilitation Unit
  • Shadowed Dr. Kenneth Yu
  • Heart-to-Heart Volunteer, Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Research Technician at Memorial Sloan Kettering's Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research
  • Private Academic Tutor
  • Volunteer Basketball Coach for the Staten Island Philippine American Group and for Saint Rita's Elementary School

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 18 hours per week

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I took the Princeton Review MCAT course

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took a gap year for a few reasons. First and foremost, I felt that I needed an extra year to build on my resume and to prepare for the MCAT before applying to medical school. I also wanted to spend one year working full-time in order to earn and save money. Lastly, I wanted to give myself time to relax and spend time with family before entering medical school.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: The strengths in my application were my GPA, MCAT score, and research experience. I devoted much of my time and energy towards my academics, and luckily, the effort paid off. I also spent a significant amount of time working at Memorial Sloan Kettering's Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research. My research experience not only enhanced my critical thinking skills but also allowed me to connect with experienced researchers and physicians. Even though I spent most of my time on academics and research, I still had some valuable clinical and volunteer experiences, especially volunteering at MSK's urgent care center. When applying to medical school, it is important to play towards your strengths, but it is just as important be a well-rounded applicant.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: I can honestly say that I would not have been able to earn admission into medical school without the help of the Pre-Health Advising Office. As a freshman, I had no idea what it would take to get into medical school, but the pre-health advisors walked me through the whole process. They organized events that taught me the necessary steps to becoming a competitive applicant and constantly connected me with different opportunities to strengthen my resume. In addition, the advisors were always willing to meet with me individually to discuss my personal challenges and how to overcome them. Finally, they helped me through every part of the medical school application, including writing my personal statement, preparing for the MCAT, and training for interviews. The Pre-Health Advising Office was truly there for me from start to finish

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: The pre-med journey can be very difficult at times, but always remember that there are plenty of people that are willing to help. It is very important to find fellow pre-med students, advisors, and professors that are committed to helping you reach your goals. Having a strong network of supporters helps you get through the challenges of college and connects you to different opportunities that will make you a stronger applicant. In addition, when applying to medical school, it is important to have people that are willing to advocate for you.

Another important piece of advice is to pursue opportunities that you are actually passionate about. Even though there are many different requirements asked of pre-med students, you do not want to take part in activities just to check off boxes. Instead of hopping from one activity to another to fill up your resume, you should devote significant time and energy towards activities that you truly care about. This will not only make your pre-med journey more enjoyable but also make you stand out as an applicant. Medical schools want students that are passionate and committed to achieving specific goals. While it is important to demonstrate this in your personal statement and interviews, it is more important to demonstrate passion and commitment through your actions.


Headshot: Iovana Bonfante Gonzalez

Name: Iovana Bonfante Gonzalez
Major: Human Biology, Track I: Body,
Mind & Health
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.85
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Loyola Stritch School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My own personal immigrant experience, community outreach, and familial history in nursing sparked my curiosity in understanding the connection between quality of life, socioeconomic status and health disparities. As I pursued different opportunities in community advocacy and health care, along with my academics, I realized my true passion was being on the front lines of medical innovation, healing and advocating for others.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Research: SCORE Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Clinical research experiences at Maimonides Medical Center Emergency Department, NYP-Methodist Hospital Internal Medicine & NYP-Weill Cornell Emergency Department.

Community Outreach: Tutor for Harlem Renaissance High School through Hunter Liberty Partnership Program, Bronx Oncology Living Daily Program Intern & Bilingual Consultant at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Shape Up NYC Volunteer Group Fitness Instructor.

Extracurriculars: Hunter College Women's Basketball Team, High School Sports Coach at Cathedral High School: Varsity Volleyball, JV Basketball, Varsity Lacrosse and Track & Field, Bronx Music Heritage Center Conga classes, Academic Coach and Science Learning Center Tutor at Lehman College.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 10-15 hrs./week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I utilized Princeton Review to help guide my self-studying. I also tapped into other resources such as: Khan Academy, daily MCAT questions & Jack Westin CARS passages.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took 2 gap years to study for the MCAT, prepare for AMCAS and pursue additional community engagement opportunities.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My academic history, my personal story and clinical experiences.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: As the first in my family to go to medical school, learning to navigate pre-med courses, studying for the MCAT and application prep felt very overwhelming. I am grateful for the Pre-Health Advising Office's workshops on time/stress management, MCAT study schedules, walk-in advising appointments, personal statement editing, interview prep, medical school decision options and more. Thank you, Pre-Health Advising Team!

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Overall, enjoy the process and inform yourself as much as possible by attending workshops and seeking opportunities that are at par with what you are most passionate about. Remember, even if you feel you have taken two steps back or failed at something, do not give up. Reflect on your experience, create a plan (possibly re-draft multiple times along the way) and go for it. Do not be afraid to ask for guidance and be kind to yourself. Everyone's journey is different so identify what makes you unique and hold on to that. What you want for your life is in your reach.


Headshot: Anna Skakadoub

Name: Anna Skakadoub
Major: Chemistry (Biochemistry track)
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.83
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Penn State College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My passion for medicine had its roots in my childhood. From a young age, I was fascinated with anatomical atlases and learning about the human body. Having doctors in my family further sparked my interest. The most important figure in establishing my love of medicine was (and still is) my father. As a teenager, I often joined him in the hospital as he rounded on patients. Through seeing my father help so many women discover the joy of motherhood, I was able to fully understand how important the role of physician is. Witnessing the gratitude of his patients, I quickly came to admire the impact he was able to make on their lives. The idea that I can give health and healing to a person forever set my career choice, and I don't recall ever wavering from that.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: 1) Reach Out and Read program, Bellevue Hospital; 2) Research Associate Program, Emergency Department, NYP; 3) English Summer Camp Volunteer, Ukraine; 4) 2017 SCORE (Summer Clinical Oncology Research Experience) Program, Department of Neurology, MSKCC; 5) Research Lab Volunteer, Dr. Joyner's Lab, MSKCC; 6) Clinical Research Coordinator, later Specialist, Department of Neurology, MSKCC; and 7) Foreign Language Advisory Group (FLAG) Coordinator, Division of Quality and Safety, MSKCC.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for courses per week?
A: During my undergraduate years, I was almost always employed full-time, so time management was a crucial skill I learned. I would say that I spent between 15-20 hours per week. When there was an exam, the time would go up to 30 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes—I took Princeton Review prep course offered by Hunter College.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes—I planned to apply before graduating Hunter College, but as the time to take the MCAT approached, I did not feel that I was ready. Also, most importantly, I did not think I was mentally ready for the application process. I am very happy I took a gap year as during that time I improved my application immensely—for instance, I added my Nature publication co-authorship and my recommendation letter from the Chair of the Department.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: It is hard to say objectively, but I feel that my application had an interesting story (apart from a good GPA). My undergraduate experience is somewhat unique because I had to financially support myself throughout college. Fortunately, I was able to have a job through which I was introduced to the world of practical medicine and met an extraordinary team of clinicians. Also, my communication skills helped me to build connections with multiple physicians. Thus, they, in return, were able to write very personal, touching recommendation letters. I feel that all of this in combination characterized me as a person who is ready for medical training.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to East Coast schools only (from Vermont to Florida).

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you to achieve your goals?
A: As an immigrant to this country, the medical school application process was very foreign to me. Kemile Jackson helped me to understand what is required in order to become a successful candidate and she always made sure I stayed on the right track with extracurriculars. During the application process, the Pre-Health Advising Office was simply a magical support tool, and I don't think I would have ever been successful if it wasn't for their guidance and close review of my application materials together with mock interview preparation.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Please think very carefully when you choose medicine as your career. You must be truly passionate about it because it requires many sacrifices. Once you have made that important decision, I suggest that you take a practice MCAT test immediately (if you have completed Organic Chemistry), as you need to understand early in the process that this test is nothing like what you have been dealing with so far. When you choose your activities, always go with what you really like. Further, try to find a mentor—it is as important as having a 99th percentile MCAT (at least for me it was the case). And the most important thing is as you go through this amazing journey, do not forget to have some fun—you will remember this time with warmth in your heart!


Headshot: Branden Sosa

Name: Branden Sosa
Major:
Biochemistry & Thomas Hunter Honors
Minor: Economics
Overall GPA: 3.83
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Weill Cornell Medicine

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: There is no field like medicine. As a doctor you have the opportunity to get a unique insight into a patient’s story and, sometimes, become a part of it. As a Latino from the Bronx, I know how healthcare is not always accessible to those who need it most. The more I realized this, the more I felt compelled to make a difference.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Association of Hispanic Healthcare Executives, LMSA+, Heads Up!, Mentoring in Action, Office Manager at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), Clinical and Translational Research at HSS, Basic Science Research at the Population Council.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 20-30 hours spread out throughout the week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, but I found it mostly helpful as content review.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took a gap year to continue the research I was involved in and study for the MCAT. I am definitely glad I took this gap year.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Research and leadership experiences.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, and I would recommend applying nationally; you may be surprised how much you like a school and its city.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Kemile Jackson is an amazing resource for all Pre-Health students at Hunter College. From my first week at Hunter College to my last, she helped me select courses, decide to take a leave of absence, prioritize extracurriculars, apply to medical school, and much more.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Find mentors! Establishing mentors who are doctors, medical students, college students, etc. will help you achieve your goals. Having great mentors is invaluable at any stage of your career. I would also suggest being a mentor for others. Whether it be lowerclassmen or high school students, they could really benefit from your knowledge and experiences.


Headshot: Silva Baburyan

Name: Silva Baburyan
Major: Biological Sciences
Overall GPA: 3.81
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Growing up, I had a naïve interest in the field of medicine. Later on, my personal and professional experiences helped reveal my biggest passions: learning, teaching, solving problems, and helping people. I chose medicine as it is a career of lifelong learning that will allow me to take care of patients and help guide them on a path to better health.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I was a Volunteer at NYP Neurology and Pediatrics departments, a Volunteer for the Heart-2-Heart and Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs at Weill Cornell Medicine. I also shadowed various physicians. I took part in the Summer Clinical Oncology Research Experience (SCORE) at MSKCC, I was a research intern at MSKCC, I co-authored a research paper and made oral research presentations at ABRCMS and the Hunter Undergraduate STEM Research Conference. I also served as a PHMI Mentor, the Secretary of the Human Biology Club, a Senior Explainer at the New York Hall of Science, and a Peer TA for General Chemistry II TA.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It varied from week to week depending on exam schedules and extracurricular activities/work. I probably spent an average of 10-12 hours per week studying for courses.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I chose to self-study for the MCAT. I used the Kaplan books for content review, and supplemented with Khan Academy videos. When I was going through content review, I used UWorld, JW Daily CARS, and the AAMC section banks for practice questions. I spent most of my time taking and reviewing practice exams from the AAMC, Altius and Next Step.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took one gap year, and during this time I worked as a research technician at MSKCC. Taking the year off allowed me to focus on the application process.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Throughout my application, I was able to form a cohesive narrative of how my personal and professional experiences led me to medicine.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to 22 schools in the Northeast, and 2 schools on the West coast.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office was a vital resource throughout the process of preparing and applying to medical school. Meetings with Kemile helped me stay motivated, and organized throughout my undergraduate career. Additionally, Nina Ledis, and Veronica Mitchell were extremely helpful when I was completing secondaries and preparing for my interviews.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Everyone’s journey to medical school is different, so don't compare yourself to others and take it one step at a time. This process is challenging, and there will be setbacks along the way, but overcoming these obstacles will help you grow and make you a stronger applicant.


Headshot: Daniel Ryan Antohi

Name: Daniel Ryan Antohi
Major:Biology and Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.79
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My initial interest in medicine started in childhood with my mother and grandmother, who were both formally and informally involved in healthcare. I was also very interested in science classes from an early age. I leaned into these interests and pursued various clinical and research opportunities as a high school student. In college, I pursued biology and psychology degrees and sought new clinical and research experiences. These experiences solidified my desire to pursue a career in which I can help people at their most vulnerable moments, contribute to the advancement of medicine, and be an educator.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Research—Cold Srping Harbor Neuroscience Lab, Columbia/NYSPI Psychiatry Labe, Yale Cardiology Lab. Clinical—Nassau University Hospital volunteer, Cardiology shadowing abroad, Internal Medicine shadowing, Mount Sinai SRA. Volunteering—Skirball Biology tutor, General Chemistry TA, Soup Kitchen, Columbia Special Needs Clinic.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I think it’s highly dependent on what and how many courses you're taking. As a rule, I always aimed to attend all my classes and tried to give 100% while there (phone off, front row, and participate). I then reviewed things that were challenging and attended office hours if needed. No matter the hours invested, I always wanted to go into an exam confident in my understanding.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I made use of Kaplan books for Biochemistry, Khan Academy 100-page packet for Psychology/Sociology, Jack Westin daily passages for CARS, and Exam Krackers' books for Physics and Chemistry. I dedicated the majority of my time taking and reviewing practice exams (Altius, Next Step, and AAMC exams). Once you have the content down, I think it's vital to understand how the MCAT tests the content and build your stamina for the exam.

In my personal experience, and that of people I know, if you take your AAMC FL exams right before your MCAT, your scores will be VERY indicative of your actual score—don't expect huge deviations, positive or negative.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes! I wanted to put my best foot forward in my application. I worked to complete my second major and pursue some amazing research activities during my senior year. Furthermore, I obtained a postgraduate opportunity at Yale for my gap year, which proved to be an incredible academic and life experience.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Long-term consistent dedication to medicine. I think my experience abroad, along with my extensive research involvement, made my application unique. Finally, all the wonderful recommendations of my professors and mentors.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes! I had a preference for the Northeast. However, I applied to schools all over the country, and I would encourage future applicants to apply broadly in order to maximize their chances in this very competitive process.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Hunter Pre-Health advisers have been an invaluable source of knowledge, support, and mentorship at every step in my journey as a pre-medical student, and I could not be here without them. They genuinely want to see you succeed. I encourage everyone to make use of the Pre-Health Advising Office as it is a tremendous resource.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Knowledge is power. Always make every attempt to stay informed and reach out to others for help. You have a lot of resources and very knowledgeable people at your disposal (Pre-Health advisors, professors, mentors, upperclassmen, etc.). Take advantage of these things, and you will have a much easier journey through your pre-health years. Also, be consistent in your efforts no matter what you're facing at the moment. If there's a will, there's a way, and you will find it with enough effort—believe in yourself.


Headshot: Syed Daniyal

Name: Syed Daniyal
Major: Human Biology
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.73
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Having viewed vast health disparities in both NYC and my home country of Pakistan, I wanted to one day help fight against these inequalities. I eventually realized that becoming a physician would provide me with the most optimal way to do so.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: 1. The Pre-Health Organization; 2. Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program; 3. Mount Sinai C.A.R.E. Volunteer; 4. Rescuing Levtover Cuisine; 5. Clinical Research with Heart 2 Heart at Weill Cornell Medicine; 6. Neuroscience Research Icahn School of Medicine; 7. Surgical Oncology shadowing at North Shore LIJ; 8. Teaching at my mosque; 9. Hunter College Student Ambassador and 10. General Chemistry TA.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: This usually depended on the course and how much time I also needed to devote to my extracurriculars. I would say typically each week I would study approximately 10-15 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I did use a Kaplan test prep course, but due to also taking a full course load, I did not gain much from it aside from study strategies (I wouldn't recommend taking a course unless you are a bad test taker). After taking the course, I experimented with different studying strategies and eventually found the ones that worked best for me. My biggest score improvements occurred when I began to use UWorld, which highly, highly recommend. Other than that, Khan Academy and the AAMC materials were really helpful. I recommend using them, especially since they are free.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I did end up taking a gap year mainly so I could help raise my GPA, keep building my application portfolio, and have time to take the MCAT without feeling too much pressure. During my sophomore year, I had received a C in one of my science classes, which really lowered my science GPA. So I used my junior and senior year to take as many science classes as I could and ace them to not only bring up my GPA, but to show medical schools that I learned from my mistake and became a better student because of it. I was also able to use my junior year to really build upon my experiences and complete all of my pre-requisite courses. Although I still ended up taking the MCAT while taking classes, I had already taken the majority of my required classes and, thus, was able to lessen my credit load, having more time to focus on the MCAT. Additionally, I was able to manage my extracurriculars better by senior year, only focusing on the ones that were most important to me.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe my strengths were in my extracurricular experiences. I chose to pursue activities that not only added to my story, but also that I was actually interested in. This allowed me to enjoy them and to do them consistently over long periods of time, adding longitudinal depth to my application. This also allowed my recommendation letters from these activities to be very strong. Additionally, thanks to the Pre-Health Office and many of my friends who helped me edit my personal statement. It turned out to be very strong.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I mainly applied to schools in the Northeast region since I wanted to stay relatively near my family, but I did apply to one school in Florida and one in Michigan because they seemed to be match schools.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office has been extremely helpful throughout my years at Hunter College. I remember back in my freshman year, I was hesitant to travel and live in Cleveland, Ohio for a program I was accepted into, but Kemile Jackson erased any doubts I had, urging me to go. She helped me like this numerous times and was always proud when I was able to achieve something or pursue an opportunity, giving me great confidence to continue on my path. I am also thankful to Nina Ledis for always making time to provide feedback during mock interviews, building my confidence that allowed me to really nail my medical school interviews whether they were traditional, MMI, or mixed. She also greatly helped me by revising my personal statement multiple times, forcing me to iron out small details, allowing me to write one I am really proud of and that I could not have written without her feedback. Although J.D. Blanco is no longer with the Pre-Health Advising Office, he also helped by always letting me know which events I still had to attend for my committee letter file and helped make sure my file was up-to-date. Thanks to all the mentioned members of the Pre-Health Advising Office, my Yalow advisors, Dr. Klein, Dr. Eckhardt, Dr. Alliger, and major advisor, Dr. Steiper, and countless other mentors, I have been able to achieve my goals.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Aside from obviously making sure you stay on top of your academics, college is a great place to network and explore new interests. Take the time to explore what you are interested in so that by the time you apply, you are certain you actually want to go into the healthcare field. This will also allow you to develop your own unique story. Make sure to surround yourself with a small group of individuals who are also driven and who make sure you stay on track to reach your goals. In addition to all this, don't forget to take time out to do things you enjoy for fun and relax.


Headshot: Katherine Sandomirsky

Name: Katherine Sandomirsky
Major: Biology, Macaulay Honors
Minor: Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.73
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Volunteer at NYP-Weill Cornell Medical Center, Lenox Hill Hospital, and Coney Island Hospital, Teaching Assistant for Statistical Methods in Psychological Research, Behavioral Neuropathology Lab Intern, Assistant Interviewer for Prospective Macaulay Honors Candidates.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Although it varied, I spent 30-35 hours studying per week on average.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, Kaplan.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took two gap years. I utilized my time to study for the MCAT, volunteer at NYP-Weill Cornell, scribe full-time at an urgent care center in Manhattan, and complete medical school applications.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My personal statement, MCAT score, and extensive clinical experience.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, I applied to schools on the East Coast and Mid-West.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health advisors were an incredible support network! They provided informative workshops, primary and secondary application feedback, mock interviews, and encouragement throughout the admissions process.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: With respect to the MCAT, take as many full-length practice exams as possible to familiarize yourself with the passages/questions and to build endurance. Carefully review each test afterward to determine your strengths and weaknesses and to learn from your mistakes. Regarding undergraduate coursework, begin studying your lecture notes soon after lecture is over, preferably the same day, in order to cement the knowledge you learned. This will also help determine early on what topics and areas you don’t fully grasp so that you’ll have sufficient time to work on them before exams. Attend office hours to clarify misunderstandings you have with the material. Office hours are such an excellent resource! Overall, on your path to medical school, celebrate your achievements, see failures as opportunities for personal growth, and keep trying your best no matter what!


Headshot: Siam Ayon

Name: Siam Ayon
Major: Human Biology
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.697
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: From an early age, I had a profound interest in science. My parents always told me I would never stop asking questions. I only felt intellectually satisfied when I studied science, since it was the only subject that truly fulfilled my curiosity. However, it was not until high school that I developed a passion for health science courses. After a close family member of mine was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, I observed the fantastic team of health professionals that took care of them, and I knew then, that I wanted to join the health field. Throughout my undergraduate career, I volunteered and conducted research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell, where I witnessed the health disparities facing many communities in NYC. My experience at MSKCC and Weill Cornell solidified my decision to become a physician in the future and desire to serve marginalized communities.

During my sophomore year of college, I changed my Primary Care Provider to a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). I was fascinated by the way she practiced medicine. She asked questions that at first seemed unrelated to my physical health. However, I realized that she wanted to assess different circumstances that could potentially put me at risk for certain conditions. My doctor also manipulated the bones and muscles in my right wrist, to fix a constant mild pain that bothered me for months. I was intrigued by her approach to medicine. When I asked her about her unique way of treating me, she told me to read about Dr. Still. In a few days, my pain was fully gone, and after reading about the philosophy of osteopathic medicine, I knew I wanted to become a DO.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: 1. I volunteered at Memorial Sloan Ketting Cancer Center's (MSKCC) Urgent Care; 2. I shadowed Dr. Aragones, who worked at the Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities (IHCD) Department at MSKCC; 3. I conducted Public Health Research at MSKCC's IHCD department; 4. I volunteered at Weill Cornell and their Hear to Heart Community Outreach Program; 5. I held board positions in Pre-Health Organization (PHO) for three years. During my first year, I was the Social Media Manager. Then I became the Secretary. During my last year, I served as the Co-President of PHO; 6. I was also a Student Ambassador at Hunter College providing tours to prospective students and their families; 7. I mentored pre-health students with the Pre-Health Mentoring Initiative; 8. I also received certification as a Mental Health First Aide; 9. I volunteered with the Rescuing Leftover Cuisine to donate food to homeless shelters and 10. I was a student mentor for the Hunter College's Unibuddy initiative where I spoke with and mentored prospective college students who shared similar interests with me.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I spent about 25-30 hours studying per week. I studied more for exams, less when I did not have as much work. However, I am not someone who can sit and study for hours at a time. I always broke up my studying with short breaks.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I used Princeton Review.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I used the year after graduating from Hunter to complete a Master of Science at TouroCOM to improve my resume and increase my chances of getting into medical school. In addition to completing my MS program, I also applied to other medical schools via AACOMAS during my gap year.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I would say that one of my strengths in my application was my extracurricular activities. I know that as pre-health students we can get caught up in increasing the number of extracurricular activities we do to boost our resumes. However, it is equally as important to do extracurricular activities that we enjoy. It is easy to forget that we must talk about these activities in our application. If we just did the activities to check things off of a list, it will show in the application and hurt our chances. Luckily, I was able to seek out and participate in activities I had a genuine passion for, and I believe it showed in my applications and during my interviews.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, I applied to 14 osteopathic schools all over the country.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: To be honest, I would not have made it this far without the Pre-Health Advising Office helping me every step of the way. As a first-generation college student, I had no tangible plans for navigating the complex pre-health path. However, from the first day of college, Kemile made sure that I did everything I needed to do to make myself a competitive applicant. I frequently visited the Pre-Health Office, sometimes for advice, and sometimes just to talk about my day. I really appreciated how Kemile and JD would speak to me about my day and make sure I was always doing okay academically and personally. Additionally, thanks to the Pre-Health Office, I was also able to take a Princeton Review MCAT Course for a reduced price.

In addition to the invaluable personal support and academic counseling they provided me with, they were instrumental in making my application strong. I had multiple mock interviews with Veronica, where she provided me with countless feedback. Before an interview, she always took the time to help me craft my story for each school. Nina edited my essays numerous times to make sure that they were solid. I am extremely grateful to the Pre-Health Office for always supporting me and going above and beyond to help me achieve my goals.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: USE THE PRE-HEALTH OFFICE. I cannot stress this enough. They are there to help you and will go above and beyond to make sure you feel supported. However, you must seek out the help yourselves. They won't always tell you things you want to hear, and instead, at times, they will tell you the hard truth. However, please remember, it is much better for Veronica to give you feedback on your interviews than to do terribly in your real interview. It is much better for Nina to mark your essays red than for medical schools to think they are not well written. It is much better to let Kemile direct your application and help you get into your third-choice medical school than to fly solo and not get into any medical school.

Lastly, remember that this is your journey. Please, do not compare yourself to others. Just because your friend had a hard time getting in with a 4.0 does not mean you have no chance with your 3.5. Just because your friend will finish medical school two years earlier than you do does not make you less successful. We all have our own journeys and face unique challenges. No matter where you are in your journey, you have successfully come this far. Please, do not let other people's journeys deter you from taking a leap of faith. Be a little kinder to yourself.


Headshot: Keith McConn

Name: Keith McConn
Major: Biology
Overall GPA: 3.695
Graduation Year: 2017
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Mainly, a natural interest in science. More personally, living in an underserved minority community in New York City, I experienced friends, neighbors, and others dealing with health issues with not much in the way of a plan of treatment. Addiction, obesity, and poor sexual health were prevalent and continue to be where I live. With this being my environment, I became interested in these health issues going on around me. This is what eventually led to my interest in science and medicine.

Q: What erxtracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Volunteering in my local emergency department as well as in the community (events like City Harvest, soup kitchen assistance), working in research, which I began in my senior year of college and continued after graduation.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: At least 30; I viewed this like a full time job.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I did not have the financial resources to pay for a course. I used second-hand review books, and saved to purchase question banks and full-length exams from Next Step and AAMC.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes. I took multiple gap years. Working on top of school obligations and clinical volunteering left very little time for MCAT studying or community service. I took time to focus on understanding content tested on the MCAT as well as doing local volunteering through the Red Cross.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Perhaps my strength is my background and my personal narrative. I come from a lower middle-class, single parent household in the heart of Harlem. Despite my hardships, I worked hard and was resourceful until I was able to get my foot in the door. I do not mean to imply that you have to come from a difficult background or major adversity to be a strong applicant to medical school. What I am saying is that if this is something you truly want to pursue, something you have a passion in, you should go for it despite the struggles.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes. I applied to 18 medical schools in the East Coast and 2 medical schools in the Midwest. In the end I chose to attend one of the two schools that I applied to in the Midwest.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Having the drive and determination to attend medical school isn't always enough. The Pre-Health Office gave me some much-needed direction. They've been in y corner and they are experts in this process. There is no doubt that I wouldn't have gotten this far without them.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Listen to the advice of your pre-health advisor, especially the director of the Pre-Health Program, Kemile Jackson.


Headshot: Rick Hiciano

Name: Rick Hiciano
Major: Psychology/Special Honors
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.67
Graduation Year: 2017
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I love the human body and it's relation to behavioral health. How the body works internally, and the way it affects human behavior — communication, actions, appearance — is fascinating. Science is awesome and I love interacting with others. I can't imagine myself doing anything else.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  1. Team Leader in Hunter College Brothers For Excellence
  2. President of Hunter College's Psychology Club
  3. Research Assistant under Dr. Erblich in Hunter College's Alcohol Studies Lab (Psychology Department)
  4. Volunteer in the Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Inpatient Unit at NYU-Bellevue Hospital
  5. Psychological Statistics TA for a semester
  6. Summer Internship program at SUNY Downstate
  7. Worked part-time at Cornell Medical College throughout undergrad
  8. Other personal hobbies such as: fitness and martial arts training, blogging, and reading books

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Depended on the week, but about 10 - 20 hours outside of class time.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I used Leah Fisch's MCAT Study Hall for her extensive and well-explained video library. In addition, I had access to exams/material from various testing companies including AAMC Prep, Examkrackers, Kaplan, Altius, NextStep, and Princeton Review. A:I found that the various companies and their testing styles confused me. While I definitely learned the content, I felt these companies and their styles were good for timing practice, but not necessarily for actual AAMC test taking strategies. If I had to do it again, I would use these companies for their passage materials, but I would stick purely to AAMC. A: If you're interested in a more detailed explanation of my experience, read this article I wrote

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes. I graduated in 2017 and I'm matriculating in 2019. There are several reasons I took a gap year:

  1. I didn't want to take the MCAT during my final year of classes
  2. In terms of preparation, there was no way I would have had my application as well written or solidified as it was had I done it a year earlier. These “two years off” did wonders for me by allowing me to obtain life experience, take my time with testing and applications, and of course ENJOY my life before starting school.
  3. There were personal goals I wanted to accomplish and the gap year allowed me to do just that.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My strengths were definitely my personal statement and various experiences. Due to my goals and background, I had unique experiences that related to individuals with many different interests. Throughout my interviews, interviewers were super interested in all had done and each interview seemed to focus on a different facet of my experience. Some interviewers were interested in my artistic background, some my social science background, some my personal fitness, and others my leadership skills. I have a lot of experience to offer and I believe this is what got me in. While I didn't get to read them, I think having great letters of recommendation (as said by Kemile) helped too.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, I applied broadly across the US, though the majority of schools were in the east coast.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: They helped significantly by providing support since my freshman year at Hunter. Since day 1, I was advised on what experiences I needed to focus on, where I should be looking, and what I should be utilizing from my classes and extracurricular activities. They kept it real and to the point. Additionally, all the interview prep, MD application guidance, and personal statement help was huge. I utilized every bit of it and checked in every few months. I can't thank them enough.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: This process is a long, expensive, and difficult one. You need to believe in yourself the entire way through. Know exactly why you want this field, and be willing to push through all the obstacles that will come your way. There were many times during this process where I wished I didn't have to do any of it. There were times I questioned my ability to become a physician. These thoughts are normal but you cannot allow them to take charge. Likewise, you cannot allow yourself to become overconfident in your scores or experiences. Remaining humble and optimistic, while reminding yourself of your goal will keep you going. For those with low GPA or MCAT score: If you believe in your ability and experiences, and achieve the backing of the pre-health office, then don't worry. Your weakness will be your scores, but you have to make up with them by demonstrating what you've learned and proving through your current experience that you're willing to work hard to succeed. Additionally, there is A LOT of waiting in this process. Waiting for verification, secondaries, interviews, and decisions. It takes upwards to a year for most people before a final decision is made. With that said, CONTINUE doing what you love and furthering your experiences. Anything can happen in this cycle, so you need to keep yourself sane and in a state of consistent progress during times of waiting. Don't question why others may have heard something before you, or speculate as to what may be going on within admissions. Nothing is certain unless you're on the admissions committee. Stay busy and happy, and you should be okay.


Headshot: Jessica Juarez

Name: Jessica Juarez
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.56
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Raised within a family of first-generation and undocumented immigrants, I have witnessed and firsthand experienced the fears and barriers that hinder immigrants from seeking asylum and healthcare. These experiences have prompted a sense of urgency to facilitate access to social resources and services for these underserved communities and dedicate a career to advocate for those who slip through the cracks of a faulty system, who bear the extra load of being labeled as an “alien, refugee, undocumented, and immigrant.”

While at Hunter, I sought various opportunities to be actively involved with supporting medically underserved populations. I eventually became more knowledgeable of the platform that a healthcare provider holds in these communities and recognized the core elements that a physician can have in development efforts. My vision is not only to practice medicine but also to cultivate a workforce that reflects the communities we serve. The privilege of having access to opportunities that my family did not have due to the limits of class, education, and legal status propels me to pay tribute to the programs that have supported me in my journey.

As a future healthcare provider and advocate, I strive to continue to promote programs to address the need for a diverse representation of healthcare providers in underrepresented communities and build opportunities for individuals of various backgrounds to achieve their career goals.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I did not become involved in extracurriculars until my junior year of college. My first actual volunteer experience was volunteering as a health educator in Ecuador through EduAmistad. I also volunteered in the American Red Cross, Let’s Get Ready, and RockEdu. After graduating from Hunter, I spent the summer participating in the SCORE program at MSK, and continued participating in clinical research at Harlem Hospital through NYC H+H research internship (the Prehealth listserve advertised all of these opportunities, so keep your eyes open!). I was also a member of the Bronx Community Health Leaders (BxCHL). In this student-run organization, I came to a safe environment that fosters peer support for students underrepresented in medicine.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I studied an average of 15-20 hours a week studying for courses. Of course, more before an upcoming exam.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I used the Kaplan test prep course for the first attempt! However, I relied on self-studying for the second attempt (UWorld, Kaplan,AAMC, NS).

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: : I took two gap years post-graduation. After graduation, I took the MCAT exam and did not score near my target score. Hence, I decided to take another gap year and gain more clinical experience while studying for the MCAT retake.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My journey to this point was filled with adversity and challenges that I was able to overcome. I was a college student in the morning and transformed into a restaurant hostess at night. My path to medical school was filled with days that I thought would never end, and my dream is one that I thought I would never survive.

Without the initial guidance and the lack of a support system, admittedly, I was not a college-bound student. I was raised in a household where my parents did not have a college or even high school education, so enrolling in college was not a straightforward decision. I enrolled at LaGuardia Community College and eventually transferred to Hunter.

I was fortunate to have mentors and access to the Pre-Health Advising Office at Hunter, who have fostered a supportive environment and taught me the value of networking and advocacy; their generosity and determination instilled in me the qualities that propelled me to be optimistic. With my transcript, the idea of getting into medical school seemed impossible. During this application cycle, I learned that you do not have to be the picture “perfect” applicant. Schools do evaluate your application holistically.

I worked 15-40 hours weekly throughout my undergraduate years and maintained full-time student status. The limited time I had to study took a toll on my academics, and I had multiple C’s on my transcript. Despite the uncertainties of not having the “ideal” application, I unexpectedly had a successful cycle.

I believe my application’s strength was the personal statement and work and activities section that offers an opportunity to tell your unique story, explain your circumstances and showcase the activities that you are involved in.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, I applied to 30+ schools, mainly on the East and West coast.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: I want to give a special shout out to the advisors at the Pre-Health Advising Office. I especially appreciate the continued support after graduation by Kemile, and Nina for the fantastic interview prep.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Do not feel deterred to pursue a dream that may seem so abstract. Meanwhile, you want to aim high stat-wise, do not feel discouraged if you do not have that 515 MCAT and 4.0 GPA like “everyone else” on SDN/Reddit or even your classmates, you can still get in. Diversity in your volunteer and research experiences are essential.

Be persistent and determined. I applied to 15+ volunteer research positions before landing on one. Seek role models and mentors early on. It takes just one role model in existence to override every reason to doubt.

The takeaway is to continue to seek guidance from your peers, mentors, and advisors; don’t compare yourself to others, and please don’t forget to share your journey while you’re at it to encourage others who are pursuing this path.

Keep in touch with those who have supported you along the way, and even a simple email will do! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions: jessica.juarez22@myhunter.cuny.edu


Headshot: Nicholas Brutus

Name: Nicholas Brutus
Major: Biochemistry
Overall GPA: 3.54
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Albany Medical College.

Q: What drew you to this particular field?
A: Shadowing in Harlem Hospital and forming connections with patients. Also, finding mentors who showed me the versatility in the medical field.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Scholar All-American, All-State, and Team Captain for the Hunter College Wrestling Team; Vice-Commissioner of the Hunter College Residence Halls; Resident Asistant for the Brookdale Residence Hall; SAAC Wrestling Representative; Volunteer Wrestling Coach at Bay Shore; Sears Shipping and Receiving Supervisor—part-time job; and Gap year: Quality Team Leader at Chembio Diagnostics Systems (Medical Devices).

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Approximately 2 hours per day, 10 hours per week. The week before an exam, I studied around 15 hours per week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: The first time that I sat for the MCAT, I self-studied. The second time I sat for the MCAT, I took the Princeton Review prep course and my score improved by 11 points.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took a gap year to focus on my MCAT and to become financially situated for medical school.

Q: What did you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My resilience showed in my MCAT improvement and overcoming my financial circumstances; finishing my undergraduate years with a strong GPA; my commitment to serving my community; my research and volunteer experiences in undergrad show my dedication to service; my athletic accolades; and strong letters of recommendation.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes. The farthest school I applied to was Wayne State SOM in Detroit, Michigan.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office kept me on the right path. They gave me a tangible plan to obtain my goal. Every semester, I would check in with Kemile, who was one of my biggest motivators. They were honest and told me not only what I needed to hear but what I needed to do. The guidance brought me 7 medical school acceptances and mentors who are sitting deans/chairpersons at medical colleges across the City. The Pre-Health Office is a gateway for knowledge and connections.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: I have three tips to share: 1) Find your “why” and let that be your personal source of motivation; 2) Learn to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations, and 3) Don't be afraid to reach out for help.


Headshot: Gregory Sylvestre

Name: Gregory Sylvestre
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Economics
Overall GPA: 3.51
Previous Institution:
Kingsborough Community College
Graduation Year: 2017
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine—Middletown Campus.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Coming from a background of nurses in my family, I was exposed to the ideas of healthcare and patient service from a young age. I came to appreciate the very involved role a physician plays in managing one’s health and their commitment to having a strong command of the biological sciences.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I was a Pre-health Mentor for Hunter College’s Mentoring in Action program. I was also a Peer-Health educator for Peer-Health Exchange. I volunteered at NYP Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and participated in their Summer College Intensive Program (SCIP). I was also a Research Associate for NYU’s RA Internship Program.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 10-12 hrs per week. It depended on the semester.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: : No. I self-studied using Kaplan review books, Khan Academy, and AAMC official materials. I also found that Reddit.com and SDN online forums offered helpful studying plans for those looking for a place to start.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: : I did. I wanted to use this time to prepare a little more for a MCAT retake. I also used this time for self-growth and reflection.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I think my personal statement and letters of recommendations were my strongest features. My letters came from those I believed I had a meaningful relationship/connection with me at certain points within my college career.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, I applied to several schools outside of just New York. I applied to many newer schools and those with a history of accepting applications with my stats/student profile.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-health Office did an excellent job of keeping in contact with me and reviewing my personal statement. They also kept me in the loop with pre-health opportunities via their focused emailing system. Additionally, Kemile Jackson directed me towards Touro College’s Special Masters Program after an initial unsuccessful application cycle. I was informed of my expectations for this challenging program and was guided by words of encouragement by Kemile.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Don’t give up. Its normal to have doubts along the path to medicine as to whether you’ll make it or not (I’ve had several). It’s about staying positive, taking advice from those who can give guidance, being committed and honest as to where you wish to be professionally, and believing in yourself. Each challenge you come across should be looked at as a learning experience to propel you in the right direction.

The MCAT is very important but is not the be-all and end-all. Take your time when preparing for the exam. Try your best to understand the content and limit memorizing. This will make the process more fruitful and manageable. This idea will also carry over into medical school and allow you to navigate the vast amount of material. Additionally, practice tests, practice tests and more PRACTICE TESTS. You always want to commit to doing more practice exams/questions and analyzing them closely vs. mainly reviewing content.

Lastly, it's important to take breaks and maintain a connection to activities/hobbies that bring you joy. Your mental health is the most important part of you and should always be protected. Rest and recharge as you see fit. Don't feel guilty about it. Your future-self and patients will thank you.


Headshot: Cristina Zambrano

Name: Cristina Zambrano
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Sociology and Philosophy
Overall GPA: 3.49
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: The need for good medical care and advocacy for health equity in underrepresented communities is what drove me to this field.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Volunteered at the Consulate of Ecuuador in New York for five years. Volunteer patient feeder at Lenox Hill Hospital and shadowed at the same hospital. Member of the Provost Search Committee at Hunter College in 2018. Research Associate at the Ogunwobi Laboratory, Hunter College, since 2018.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Depended on the course. For basic science courses, about 10-15 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I used the Princeton Review Prep Course offered by the Hunter College Pre-Health Office.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took a gap year. I was working full-time to become more financially stable and to continue working on research.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: The strengths in my application were my extracurricular activities. While my GPA was average and my MCAT score was on the lower end, I had a lot of volunteer work and research experience. By the time I interviewed, I had my first author article published. I also believe that in my personal statement and my experiences section, I consistently highlighted the motivations and attributes that would allow me to succeed in this career path.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, but mostly to institutions on the East Coast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Office was helpful through my application process. The advisors helped me with my personal statement, experiences descriptions and practice mock interviews.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: If medicine is your passion, do not let anything get in the way of it. Push through the undergraduate hardships, the MCAT, and the application process.

During the undergraduate career, surround yourself with people that want you to succeed. If you are surrounded by competitive people, it can be a motivation but it can easily become toxic. Have a good relationship with your professors. At some point you are going to need recommendation letters and if they can genuinely advocate for you, it will make your application stronger.

MCAT—first things first, take a practice exam! Often, we want to see a good score and wait until we are “ready” to take the practice exam. Realistically, you are not going to be ready until you experience it (type of questions, material, the 7 hours). Review the material you were the weakest on and work from there.

Application Process—Do not wait to apply until you have a perfect application. Like the MCAT, you may never be truly ready to apply, so just go for it. Make sure different people review your personal statement and work/activities descriptions. For this particular section, make sure you are selecting meaningful experiences because you should be ready to talk about them during interviews. They prefer quality over quantity. Once you submit your primary application, begin working on your secondary applications. The prompts often repeat themselves so you can begin rough drafts before they release them. In my opinion, this was the most tedious part of the application process, so be ready and work smart.

Best of luck to all future applicants!


2019 Matriculants


Headshot: Norine Chan

Name: Norine Chan
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Certificate in Public Policy
Overall GPA: 4.0
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2019

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Duke University School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I was drawn to medicine for its unique ability to integrate scientific problem solving, creative thinking, and social responsibility in one profession. Medicine provides the opportunity to communicate with people; discover the circumstances causing their pain, discomfort, or disease; and use this knowledge to advocate for and provide necessary care to patients. This is a privileged position that exemplifies the type of connection I wish to have with people in my career—and maintains my interest in and excitement about the field of medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Hunter College Fencing Team, Peer Health Exchange, Mount Sinai Hospital CARE Volunteer, Mount Sinai Research Associate, Weill Cornell Heart-to-Heart Outreach Program, Visual Psychophysiology Research Assistant, Molecular Pathology Research Assistant, McNulty Scholars Program, Brooklyn Hospital Center Volunteer, Global Health Brigades.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 30-35 hours per week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Examkrackers 3-month spring course

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took two gap years. My first gap year was spent living abroad in Taiwan and working as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. I wanted to take the time and opportunity to grow as an individual after graduation, to reconnect with my cultural and ethnic roots in Asia, and to experience life in a different country. During my second gap year I focused on my medical school applications and interviews; during this time, I worked as a medical scribe and medical assistant to obtain experience in the emergency department setting, observe the styles of various attending physicians, and build a foundation in patient interaction and writing a comprehensive patient chart.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My application has a strong and consistent internal narrative that is present throughout the personal statement, my descriptions of extracurriculars and most meaningful experiences, and my secondary application essays. I focused primarily on telling my story and reflecting on my reasons for pursuing medicine, which I believe infused my application with humanity and honesty. I also take great pride and care in my writing and consider my writing style and attention to detail to be contributory factors to the strength of my application.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, I applied to a variety of schools in different states along the East Coast of the United States.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Hunter Pre-Health Advising Office was incredibly supportive and present throughout the application process. Starting the Committee Letter application process early helped me organize my thoughts and write about my experiences in a way that made tackling the AMCAS application far less intimidating when it came time to start. Kemile's willingness to read over and provide feedback on several iterations of my personal statement and secondary essays allowed me to constantly make improvements to my writing and gave perspective to my experiences. Especially when I was writing my application from thousands of miles away in Taiwan, being able to schedule calls with Kemile despite the time difference helped me to stay focused and committed to the process ahead of me. When it came to interview preparation, Veronica was an absolute joy to practice interview skills with and, particularly with MMI preparation, she took the extra step to research the process extensively and make the mock interview prompts as realistic as possible. The thoughtful conversations I had with her allowed me to enter my first few interviews with a sense of confidence and calm that only improved with further practice. I would not be where I am today without the encouragement, advice, and genuine care of the Pre-Health Advising Office!

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: The path to medical school and to becoming a successful physician is a long-term commitment; it is a marathon that does not begin and end with just this application process. Practice patience and cultivate endurance as much as possible. Be kind to yourself, share your successes and failures with your loved ones, and find activities outside of medicine that will develop your humanity—these are what will keep you sane throughout the application process and your career in medicine. Always start early when you can (i.e. try to submit your primary close to the AMCAS opening date and keep your turnaround time on secondaries to 2 weeks or less) and give yourself time to address errors, misunderstandings, and the inevitable unfortunate situations that will be outside of your control. Applying to medical school is an extensive, arduous process—treat it as a learning experience, avoid comparing yourself to others in the process, and stay confident that you are a worthy applicant. Best of luck!


Headshot: Marie T. Mazzeo

Name: Marie T. Mazzeo
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Certificate in Public Policy
Overall GPA: 4.0
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2019

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I am drawn to a career as a physician because I hope to work at the intersection of science, health, education, and research. I am particularly interested in working with underserved communities and would like to be part of a multidisciplinary effort to improve human health at the individual level while also contributing to the advancement of public health at the global level.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Peer Health Exchange, Laboratory Research, Clinical Research, Domestic and International Community Service, Scholars Cohorts, Social Organizations, Mentorship Programs, Physician Shadowing and Athletics.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I tried to spend a least a few hours every day reviewing material, and increased my amount of studying based on my exam schedule. I'm not a fan of cramming for exams or pulling “all nighters”!

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: The most useful resources I used for the MCAT were: all of the AAMC materials, ExamKrackers Review Books, Tests, and 101 Passages, CARS, Altius Prep 10 Test Bundle, Jack Westin Daily CARS Practice, and the Khan Academy PsychSoc 100-page summary available on Reddit.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I wanted to expand upon my research skills and to use the year to explore an area of science that I found particularly interesting. I believe that there is a tremendous benefit to having and “application year,” however, it is not absolutely necessary, nor is it right for everyone.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I think my strengths were my longitudinal and in-depth involvement in my extracurricular activities, my GPA, and my MCAT score. I also believe that forming lasting relationships with my professors and mentors was a tremendous asset, both personally and professionally.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A:Yes (MD).

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office was indispensable in my application to medical school. The members of this office were especially helpful in reviewing my personal statement, work/activities descriptions, and secondary application essays. They were also an incredible source for support for practicing mock, traditional, and MMI interviews. I definitely would not be where I am today if it wasn't for them!

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Plan ahead and have a solid support system. Applying to medical school is a daunting process, so it is important to do your part so that you are as prepared and informed as possible. Certain aspects of this process seem like they are designed to make you question yourself and your abilities; however, please remember that you are amazing and that you have accomplished so much more than you recognize. (It is such a privilege to even have the opportunity to apply to medical school!) Take time to self-reflect on what you have learned from your past activities and experiences, and to contemplate what you would like to accomplish in the future. Try not to worry about what other people are doing or what they have accomplished—be yourself and your own story! During this time, it is very important to prioritize your well-being, and to spend quality time with friends and family. You got this!


Headshot: Tamir Pinhasov

Name: Tamir Pinhasov
Major: Mathematics, Macaulay Honors Major
Minor: Chemistry
Overall GPA: 3.98
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2019

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: The way I see it, studying and practicing medicine allows one to satisfy the craving for scientific curiosity and exploration, and at the same time have the ability to guide patients on a path to health and longevity by teaching them about the world around them and the world that exists within each of our bodies. This is the aspect of medicine that I find unique and rewarding.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Research: 1) Chemistry Lab at Queens College; 2) Biology Lab at City College; and 3) Sinai Research Associate

Mount Sinai Hospital ED C.A.R.E Volunteer

Shadowing: 1) Emergency Medicine Physicians at Mt. Sinai; and 2) Local Pediatrician

Community Service/Leadership: 1) Founder of BRIDGE Program at Jewish Institute of Queens—Exposing young children in religious environment to scientific experiments; 2) Founder of College Insider at FHHS—Helping students with their college applications; 3) Senior Legacy Committee at Hunter, and 4) Pre-Health Mentoring Initiative at Hunter

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Outside of going to classes, ~10 hours per week for science courses; 1-5 hours for other courses

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No, I self-studied. I think anyone who has good study habits and discipline can self-study and do well!

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: No.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Aside from having solid extracurriculars, a definite strength of my application are my GPA and MCAT score. When I got a 509 on my first MCAT exam, I knew I had it in me to score higher. I studied harder and more diligently for the second time and scored a 519. My MCAT score jump was a big topic of discussion in my interviews and med schools seemed to like it. However, it's important to remember that GPA + MCAT only get you through the door. Your extracurriculars and your letters of recommendation take you the rest of the way.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied mostly in the Northeast area. I did apply to 20 schools, though.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Since the first day, Kemile made sure that I was on the right track with volunteering, research etc. For example, I started my volunteering at Sinai in my freshman year because of the workshop that the prehealth office held that introduced us to this volunteering opportunity. I always felt that I could come in and talk to any of the advisors about any question or concern that I had. Additionally, Nina and Veronica helped me tremendously with my application (essay, secondaries, mock interviews, etc.).

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: It's never too early to get involved in extracurriculars. You don't want to have to do volunteering, research, shadowing, etc. all at once in your fourth year or in your gap year.

It's easier to maintain a high GPA than to start off rough and have to work your way back up.

Try to retain as much information as possible from your science classes, as this information WILL show up again on your MCAT.

It’s never too early to start accumulating letters of recommendation from your professors into your prehealth file. It's a lot tougher to ask for a letter a few semesters later (when the professor doesn't remember you as well)

Avoid burning yourself out by living a balanced life, exercising, and having good friendships/support system!


Headshot: Alec Levine

Name: Alec Levine
Major: Biology w/ a Concentration
in Neurobiology
Minor: Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.94
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2019

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Physicians have a rare opportunity to provide assistance to individuals in a wide range of environments. Apart from the obvious clinical applications, physicians have the flexibility to engage in scientific research, medical education, and public policy, if they so choose. I thought that pursuing an MD allowed me best to pursue all of my interests.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I engaged in a wide range of extracurriculars: Senior Health Educator for Peer Health Exchange, Undergraduate Researcher in Dr. Pereira's Neurobiology Lab, CARE I and CARE II at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York Cares Volunteer, and Hunter College Student Government.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It depended on the semester, and more specifically on which science courses I was taking. The low end was 10 hours a week, and the high end was 30 hours a week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course for the MCAT?
A: Yes, I used the ExamKrackers online course, although I did have some concerns regarding the course. The books were fantastic, although the Psych/Social book should definitely be supplemented with a Kaplan book for increased terminology, and the course kept me on a convenient and timely schedule. However, the course itself was largely unhelpful, as the material was not taught in significant enough detail.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I did take a GAP year. I took the gap year because I didn't feel comfortable taking the MCAT during my junior year, when I had some of my toughest coursework. I felt much better studying for the MCAT the winter of my senior year, when my most difficult course was Biochemistry. The GAP year also allowed me to work a little , and save some money, while expanding my clinical repertoire.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I think that I had a generally strong application, but my grades (3.94) and MCAT score (523) certainly helped my application stand out against a sea of strong applicants.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I did to some extent. I applied to two schools on the West Coast, two schools in the Midwest, and 15 schools on the East Coast.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: For me personally, the Pre-Health Office was most useful during the application process, when it was able to give me assistance with interview preparation, application editing, and school selection.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Two pieces of advice come to mind: On Studying for the MCAT—Everyone is going to be different, but I think that it is crucial to study for the MCAT with as little stress as possible. That sounds difficult, but it can be done by putting yourself in a good situation with coursework, and suppressing your personal stress as much as possible. One of the primary reasons that individual grades differ substantially from their AAMC practice tests (other tests are not as reliable), is because they panic on test day. Remember that all tests are standardized, and should theoretically give you similar scores, as long as you remain calm and take it in a similar mindset as when you take your practice tests. In addition, on study for CARS: CARS prep is crucial, but studying for it is meaningless if you don't find a method that works for you. Everybody is going to have a different technique to maximize their CARS section. Spend your initial CARS studying trying out different methods, and find the technique that works for you. Only then, focus on consistently doing CARS practice.

On Applying to Medical School—Your primary application should emphasize the strongest aspects of your application, but in your secondary essays and interviews, you should discuss the topics that are special to you. Personally, I discussed my LGBT background and passion for medical education, but honestly, it can be anything, as long as it's important to you, and you can discuss it passionately in an interview. It helps you stand out, and leaves a stronger impression on your reader/interviewer.


Headshot: Arif Mahmud

Name: Arif Mahmud
Major: Chemistry (Biochemistry track)
Overall GPA: 3.91
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2019

Q: What school are you attending?
A: The Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: A series of childhood experiences is what initially drove me to explore a career as a physician. Growing up, I saw my mother treat patients for free in rural Bangladesh and saw how grateful people were to be able to see a physician. Moreover, as a child with severe asthma, I frequented hospitals and begun to have the same appreciation for doctors. Additionally, I gained a deep appreciation for the natural sciences as a chemistry major while an undergraduate student. The opportunity to participate in a field driven by evidence based research and scientific innovation, while also serving people in a very direct and personal way in a time of vulnerability is what ultimately cemented my decision to pursue medicine as a career.

Q: What Extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Research: Two wet-lab research experiences (one multi-year experience at NYU School of Medicine, and one summer research program at New York Stem Cell Foundation and multiple teaching experiences (TA for physics 110, co-founder of a volunteer tutoring. organization

Clinical Shadowing: Surgical oncology at NYU Langone.

Clinical Volunteering: Summer College Intensive Program at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and Vice President of the South Asian Health and Development Initiative at the Macaulay Honors College

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A. 10-15 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I used the Princeton Review Ultimate Course Online. I felt that the course was very useful for me as I was studying for MCAT while also a full-time student. The course organized all the content for me and since it was an online recorded class, I could pause and rewind the lecture at any time to take notes. The Princeton Review Course also came with all the AAMC practice exams, which were extremely helpful.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I did not take a gap year.

Q: What did you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I think my MCAT and GPA certainly helped me stand out in the national pool, enough to obtain an interview. At the interview stage, I believe my passion for my extracurricular activities, namely teaching and research, really showed and helped me stand out. Additionally, my interview preparation and general interview performance is something I believe to be key strengths. It's really important to be a genuine and personable human being during these interviews.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I did not apply nationally. I applied mainly throughout the Northeast and to one school in the South.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office helped immensely with reading and editing my AMCAS application, with interview preparation and mock interviews, and just with overall support during this long and stressful process.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Preparation is key. Know what you're getting into when you apply: know all the deadlines, general timeline, and common practices and tips for the AMCAS. Anticipate the financial costs of applying. Submit everything as early as possible WITHOUT compromising on quality. Try to find multiple people you can send your application to for edits (sending your application to the same person multiple times is not recommended as they are likely busy as well). Be very smart when creating your school list; in order to maximize acceptance offers, apply mainly to schools with average MCAT and GPA numbers that are close to your stats. Prepare thoroughly for interviews; use online forums and websites to research interview questions and then practice answering those questions and selling yourself. Above all, take care of your mental and physical health. This application process is a marathon, not a sprint.


Headshot: Heba Shaaban

Name: Heba Shaaban
Major: Anthropology and Biochemistry
Overall GPA: 3.89
Graduation Year: 2018
Matriculation Year: 2019

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Weill Cornell Medicine.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My fascination with the meticulous design of the human body and my love of science, along with my desire to be of help to the ill, are all reasons I decided to pursue medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Metagenomics research at WCM; Biochemistry and organic chemistry adjunct lecturer at Hunter College; Chemical education research at Hunter College; Volunteer at Methodist and NYU Langone hospitals; Shadowing physicians in the ER and in clinics; Student government rep at Macaulay Honors College; President of Macaulay Pre-health Professions Club; Studied sociology abroad in Florence, Italy

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A:15-20 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A:Yes—but in retrospect, I think I shouldn't have. Self-studying would've been best.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: YES!! Best decision I've ever made! Highly recommend. Undergrad, MCAT, and the application are all very exhausting and lead to burnout. A year off to reset, travel, or get a full-time job are all great reasons to take a gap year. It also helps build discipline, maturity, and character.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I think my first-author publication was a great strength in my application, along with my letters of recommendation and my personal statement.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied mainly on the East Coast to 14 schools in total.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The pre-health advising office has a lot of experience with past students applying. They know what is required of you as a student. Kemile has been a great mentor during my undergrad career, always available to discuss my plans and guide me. Veronica and Nina were instrumental during the application cycle—proofreading essays and conducting mock interviews to help prepare me.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: The entire process is difficult and exhausting—and you will have setbacks along the way, whether that is a course you didn't do well in, a research position you wanted but didn't get, a high MCAT score that seems impossible to achieve, etc—and that is okay. Just remember that in the grand scheme of things, if this is what you are really passionate about, you'll always find a way!


Headshot: Jordan Intrator

Name: Jordan Intrator
Major: Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.85
Graduation Year: 2017
Matriculation Year: 2019

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: The field of medicine uniquely offers a career of life-long learning and discovery in the biomedical sciences, the opportunity to dedicate one's service to people suffering pain and enduring challenges to their health and quality of life, and the ultimate opportunity to serve as the focal point on the top of the proverbial pyramid for patient care and treatment.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Research: Undergraduate Research Assistant, Dr. Glenn Schafe's Lab of the Hunter College Psychology Department, and poster convention presentations

Clinical Volunteering: Volunteer intern at Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Department

Shadowing: Local Podiatrist

Community Service/Leadership: Eye-to-Eye Mentor for Students with Learning Disabilities, Math/Science Tutor, Summer Camp Counselor at Hebrew Academy for Special Children, Volunteer for the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate, Member of Hunter Hillel, Member of Hunter College Pre-Health Organization

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I used Kaplan.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I graduated in December 2017 and strategized to spend approximately four months afterwards on MCAT studying, application preparation (personal statement, work/activities, etc.) and some light extra-curricular work, such as shadowing. After adequately preparing for my MCAT and scoring well, I shifted to putting the finishing touches on my application, selecting the schools I would like to apply to, and ultimately submitting at an optimal time in the cycle in mid-late June. Afterwards, I dedicated time to preparing my secondary applications in order to complete and submit them as soon as possible. Upon completion of the application process, I secured a position working in a local pediatric practice, where I worked for the majority of my gap year. In addition, I supplement my work in the pediatric practice with hospital volunteering and shadowing. My extra-curricular work during my gap year was always a point of discussion during my interviews.

I detail my activities post-graduation like this because I felt it was integral to my success as an applicant. I strongly felt that my well-planned MCAT and application preparation along with my consistent, meaningful extra-curricular engagement allowed me to present the best version of my application to admission committees.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I feel that my strong MCAT score and GPA are what got me noticed by admission committees. However, I believe that the passion and narrative illustrated through my personal statement, extra-curricular work, and letters of recommendation are what set me apart from other applicants and allowed admission committees to determine whether I was the best fit for their particular school.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, but the schools I applied to were exclusively on the East Coast and primarily in the Northeast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: One of the highlights of this journey was the relationships I developed with the Pre-Health Advising Office, who I often refer to as my “team.” The mentorship, guidance, and support they provided me throughout this entire journey was absolutely pivotal to my success. They helped point out weaknesses in my application that I would not have caught otherwise, they worked closely with me in constructing my personal statement, helped me select schools to apply to, coached me in preparing for interviews, and much, much more. I implore every pre-med student to meet with them regularly and keep them close throughout the process.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Prioritize your GPA and MCAT score. While extra-curriculars and letters of recommendation are very important to your application, your GPA and MCAT are the meat-and-potatoes. These two components should be prioritized before everything else. Pursue your passions. Find extra-curricular activities that you will truly enjoy and grow from. They will provide the framework of the narrative of your application. Try to avoid ones that are merely box checkers. These can be unmotivating and do not provide you nearly as much as value, both extrinsically and intrinsically, to your application. Construct a plan and set realistic goals. Map out your application from coursework and MCAT prep to extra-curricular work and school selection. This will provide you a roadmap to guide and keep you focused on what you need to accomplish to reach the ultimate goal of getting into the school you are striving for.

Establish a foundation to deal with the inevitable and understandable stress of this process. Whether it's exercise, spending time with friends and family, or just “taking a break,” develop healthy coping strategies that will allow you to keep forging forward in the face of different obstacles and challenges. These types of habits will be invaluable to your success.

Lastly, not only should you trust the process, but never forget to ENJOY the process. With all the twists and turns, mountains and valleys, my personal journey to getting accepted to medical school has been the most rewarding and meaningful process of my life. I have developed invaluable skills, learned life-long lessons, and experienced unforgettable moments. Enjoy the ride.


Headshot: Hajaru Hamza

Name: Hajaru Hamza
Major: Biology
Overall GPA: 3.80
Graduation Year: 2017
Previous Institution: Borough of Manhattan Community College
Matriculation Year: 2019

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Growing up in a community that was regularly losing women to childbirth.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I volunteered as a teacher at my local mosque; I was a member of the Muslim Student Association; I was an intern at the Staten Island University Hospital; I also served as the Vice President of the Out-In-Two Club and a tutor/peer mentor.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 15-20 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: No.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes. I took 2 gap years. I was interested in doing research and gaining some experiences beyond the classroom. I volunteered as a research assistant during my first gap year. For my second gap year, I took the MCAT, applied to medical schools and traveled. Fortunately for me, I developed a passion for watercolor art during this time and was able to show my paintings during my medical school interviews!

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My personal statement and letters of recommendation. I spent a long time preparing my personal statement and getting it reviewed. As for the letters of recommendation, one of my interviewers said to me “your professors love you.” I think that statement says it all.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: While the workshops and the deadlines might seem like a lot of work, especially for a transfer student, don't let that scare you. Applying to medical school is a huge investment both time wise and money wise. Having some guidance along the way could really determine whether or not you get into a program. I truly believe that the workshops and appointments helped ease the overall application process for me.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Don't hesitate to reach out and ask for help when you need it. You are definitely going to encounter some challenges and it makes the journey less lonely when you have people to rely upon. In your application, make sure every single aspect is a piece in answering the question “why medicine?”


Headshot: Victoria Mroz

Name: Victoria Mroz
Major: Biology
Overall GPA: 3.80
Graduation Year: 2017
Matriculation Year: 2019

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Research: A biochemistry cancer lab at Hunter College, an HIV and drug abuse lab at Hunter College, and a bioengineering orthopedics lab at the Icahn School of Medicine.

Clinical Volunteering: Hospital volunteer at New York Presbyterian–Weill Cornell Medical Center, and Sexual Assault and Violence Advocate at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Extracurriculars: Ballroom dancer, Co-Editior-in-Chief of The Pre-Halth Diaries blog.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It definitely varied, but between 20 to 30 hours a week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I self-studied for the MCAT and used the Scott Roberts (ThinkMCAT) course.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took 2 gap years, during which I worked in an orthopedics lab. I decided on taking 2 gap years in order to fully develop my application and to gain full-time working experience.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe my strengths were my letters of recommendation, my personal statement, and my extracurricular activities.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to medical schools in the Northeast region.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health office helped me with personal statement editing, interviewing practice and with keeping my morale high throughout the medical school application process.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Pursue what you are PASSIONATE about, seek out mentorship and always believe in yourself.


Headshot: Hehidy Paulino

Name: Hehidy Paulino
Major: Biology
Overall GPA: 3.418
Graduation Year: 2017
Previous Institution:
Hillsborough Community College
Matriculation Year: 2019

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Weill Cornell Medical College.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: The quick answer is destiny! Starting in middle school, my science teacher realized that I excelled in science so he encouraged me to explore this “gift.” At the same time, I enjoyed shows like House M.D. and the medical aspects of Grey's Anatomy. I simply loved how health science was such a relatable and applicable field to everyday life. Going forward, I ran across peers, professors, and friends who continued to mentor and cheer me on. When I began to think more broadly about the world and the direction I wanted my life to take, I decided that I want to have a positive impact on my family and my community by becoming a doctor. There is nothing more important than your health, and I would like to help patients change the way that they view their bodies and the vast impact that small changes can have on their health.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I wrote pre-med articles for an online magazine from time to time. I volunteered at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in Tampa, Florida, and at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I was also part of a woman's empowerment group called Phenomenal Women Latina, which provides mentorship and guidance. Most of my experiences came from various jobs that I held throughout high school and college.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It depended on the semester and the job that I held at the time but I will say 6 hours per week. I used the long commute times and gaps between classes to get most of my studying done.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes. Princeton Review. However, in my opinion the course was not worth the money except for the books. The practice exams were too difficult and not reflective of the actual MCAT. The best resource I used was the AAMC material (all of their question packs and exams) and discussing questions with peers who were also studying for the MCAT.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I did because once I graduated from Hunter College I realized that I did not have much experience outside of the classroom. Up until that time, all I had was a few jobs under my belt, and zero clinical and research experience. Luckily, I managed to get a job at NYU-Langone, which offered all the enriching clinical and research experience to strengthen my application for the 2018-2019 application cycle.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My personal statement and letters of recommendations. Although I did not read any of my letters of recommendation, I believe that the people I chose to write on my behalf know me better than I know myself, and were able to convey my strengths.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A:No. Only schools in New York City and one school in New Jersey.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: Fortunately, I took advantage of the services that this office provides. All of the Pre-Health staff were supportive and provided constructive criticism that I took seriously. Without the advice of the Pre-Health Office, I know I would not have been accepted this cycle.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: You may hear this many times just as I did but my advice is to be your true authentic self! When writing your personal statement and experiences, when answering secondary essay questions, and when interviewing—be yourself. You know how we all get that hunch when someone is not being genuine? You best believe that interviewers can see that too. During the interview process, I came to recognize that all medical schools are really looking for is real human beings who are going to succeed and contribute wonderful things to their program. So do not misrepresent yourself on paper, and do not misrepresent yourself in person!

One other important thing is to trust the process. What I mean by this is that I counted myself out so many times because I knew my metrics weren't the best. However, once I received medical school interviews, I realized that the selection process is truly holistic, which I was completely skeptical about in the beginning. During interviews, I knew that this was my opportunity to shine, to be myself, and to show these schools that they made the right choice by giving me this opportunity.


2018 Matriculants


Headshot: David Iskhakov

Name: David Iskhakov
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: History
Overall GPA: 3.95
Graduation Year: 2016
Matriculation Year: 2018

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Harvard School of Medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:
Research: Two chemistry labs at Hunter College, Six Week Nuclear Fuel Cycle Summer Program at UNLV, Research Associate in the Emergency Department at New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Research Technician at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Clinical Volunteering: Patient Escort at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Cardiac ICU volunteer at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Shadowing: Emergency Medicine physician at NYP, Critical Care surgeon at NYP

Community Service: Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

Leadership: Organic Chemistry TA at Hunter College and Treasurer of Chemistry Club at Hunter College.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It was dependent on the course and whether I had an upcoming exam. If there were no exam, I would generally just review my notes before class; if there were an exam, I would study somewhere around 30 hours a week leading up to it.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I did not use a test prep course for the MCAT. Instead, I self-studied.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Aside from my GPA and MCAT score, I consider the strength of my application to be my letters of recommendation. Generally, most (if not all) medical school applicants will have some sort of clinical volunteering, research, and community service experience, but, in my opinion, what separates each applicant is the relationship that he/she develops with his/her mentors/advisors, which becomes apparent from each letter of recommendation. A positive and meaningful relationship will only help you in the long run.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied broadly (27 schools), however most of the schools I applied to were in the Northeast region.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: This is a very stressful process, but thousands of applicants go through it every year and thousands of applicants are accepted to medical school every year. There is no reason why you can't be one of them. In order to be successful, however, you must make sure that you do not rush. Do not rush to take the MCAT and do not rush to apply to medical school. If you need to, take a gap year (best decision of my life). Apply when you are ready: only you will know when the time is right.


Headshot: Krisha Mehta

Name: Krisha Mehta
Major: Studio Art and Biological Science
with a Concentration in Neuroscience
Overall GPA: 3.984
Graduation Year: 2017
Matriculation Year: 2018

Q: Which school are you attending?
Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: Research work at NYU and Memorial Sloan Kettering, the SCORE Program, the EnCORE Program, global volunteer mission and community service work. I also served as an art curator, volunteer art therapist, community service volunteer through NY Cares and Operation Smile and H2H, and founder of a summer art camp. I presented my research through poster and oral presentations at multiple conferences.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 40 hours per week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I used a combination of materials to prepare for the MCAT. I studied the Kaplan and Examkrackers book and took the Examkrackers course. I also used Next Step and AAMC practice exams.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I was able to integrate my passion for both science and art and show how they both function together in medicine. I focused on ensuring that my academics were strong, both GPA and MCAT wise. I participated in activities not for the sake of checking off a box but because I was passionate about them and demonstrated how that shaped my decision to pursue medicine.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No. I only applied in the Northeast.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Focus on all aspects of your application and make sure you form a cohesive narrative about how your past, present and future come together in the pursuit of medicine.


Headshot: Sharon Pang

Name: Sharon Pang
Major: Biochemistry, Religion
Minor: Human Rights
Overall GPA: 3.90
Graduation Year: 2017
Matriculation Year: 2018

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Q: What extra-curriculars did you participate in?
A: Volunteering at senior centers, flag football, CHF patient education, community mapping/outreach, pancreatic cancer research, public health testing, global health service trips.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 10-12.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Kaplan course and books, Examkrackers books, AAMC practice tests.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My extracurriculars.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied mainly to the Northeast, but pretty widely across states. I also applied to Texas schools through TMDSAS.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Show medical schools what you are passionate about through the activities that you dedicate your time to. Make sure your extracurricular work reflects things that you are genuinely interested in.


Headshot: Shannon Tillery

Name: Shannon Tillery
Major: Sociology/Special Honors Major
Overall GPA: 3.76
Graduation Year: 2017
Matriculation Year: 2018

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: I will be attending George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I was in a position financially where I had to maintain close to full time employment during my undergraduate studies at Hunter. During my first two years at Hunter I managed a halfway house for young women struggling with substance abuse and mental health problems. After that, I moved into a job in the service industry, but continued to serve as a mentor to young at risk women.

I spent a year volunteering in the burn ICU at Weill Cornell New York Presbyterian, and another year participating in the Emergency Department Research Associate Program at the same hospital.

I tutored high school students in biology and chemistry, and I dedicated my remaining spare time to artistic interests like playing guitar and songwriting.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: The amount of time I spent studying really varied based on the courses I was taking and the amount of hours I had to work at my job. If I had to guess, I would say that I spent an average of 15 hours a week studying.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I used a Kaplan course and I also took some online classes through THINK MCAT.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I would say that the strengths in my application were my personal statement and meaningful experience essays. I think this is due, in part, to my background as a non-traditional pre-med student. I wasn't able to go to college right out of high school, and by the time I made it to Hunter I had already had two careers (one in the performing arts and another in fashion). I feel as though the experience I gained along my non-traditional path to medical school set me apart from other applicants. Because there were certainly plenty of applicants that had better grades and MCAT scores than I did, and who had more time to devote to gaining clinical and research experience. Yet, I got into multiple medical schools!

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, but mainly I focused on the East Coast.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Work hard and do your best, but also don't obsess about measuring up to your fellow pre-meds (that means at Hunter and on all of those message boards that no one admits to reading). What you might think of as a personal shortcoming, may be the thing that sets you apart from everyone else come application season.

Make time to meet with your pre-health advisors regularly, and get to know them! I know that this can seem like a daunting task at a school the size of Hunter, but it only takes a little extra planning and coordination of schedules. They are experts at preparing students to apply to medical school, and they want you to succeed. Listen to them!

Form relationships early on with professors that you respect and want to learn from. Your work will improve for it, and you'll be building the connections necessary for getting solid letters of recommendation come application season. Also, ask for your recommendation letters as early as possible!

Take an MCAT practice test early on, even if you don't plan on taking the MCAT for a year or two, just to see what it is like. Kemile gave me this advice and I wish I would have taken it because the experience would have definitely informed my study habits for the hard-science courses I took.

Don't give up.


2017 Matriculants


Headshot: Larisa Shagabayeva

Name: Larisa Shagabayeva
Major: Chemistry (Concentration in
Biochemistry) & Special Honors
Minor: History
Overall GPA: 3.79
Graduation Year: 2016
Matriculation Year: 2017

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: I am attending Harvard School of Medicine.

Q: What extra-curriculars did you participate in?
A: Pre-Health Organization, Pre-Health Student Advisory Council, Organic Chemistry TA, Hunter College Liberty Partnership Program, Science-related HS mentoring program.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 40.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes—Kaplan with instructor David Elson.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My recommendation letters and my personal statement.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: To work diligently and stay focused, to listen to the advice of your mentors and advisors, to apply only when you are in the position to have the strongest application, including a successful MCAT score, and to remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!


2016 Matriculants


Headshot: Jack Liu

Name: Jack Liu
Major: Chemistry—Biochemistry Concentration
Minor: Philosophy, Political Science
Overall GPA: 3.89
Graduation Year: Spring 2016
Matriculation Year: 2016

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: VP—Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Hunter College (Fall 2015-Spring 2016); VP—Chinese Student Union, Hunter College (Fall 2014-Spring 2016); Volunteer/Intern, Welcome Health Clinic (May 2014-May 2016: over 300 hrs); Voter Registration Volunteer, AALDEF (Spring 2015); Junior Senator, Hunter USG (Fall 2014-Spring 2015); Undergraduate Researcher (Matsui Group), Department of Chemistry at Hunter College (Summer 2013-Summer 2015); Public Health Intern, APICHA (Summer 2014); FSDC member, Hunter USG (FALL 2013-SPRING 2014); Marketing Team Member, CUNYfirst (Fall 2013-Spring 2014); Volunteer, NYPH-WCMC (August 2013-July 2014: over 200 hrs); and Employment: SHSAT tutor, RiteAid cashier, Chinese dessert preparer.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I spend an average of 15 hours a week studying for my courses at Hunter College.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I did not use any test prep course for the MCAT. I used the ExamKrackers MCAT Review and did the practice MCAT exams available through the AAMC.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: There are three things that I believe are the strengths in my application: my GPA, my MCAT score, and the diversity in my extracurricular activities. My GPA (3.89) and MCAT score (96th percentile on the old MCAT) helped me secure an interview. From there, the diversity of my extracurricular activities offer multiple talking points throughout my interviews.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to 20 MD programs throughout the US; 10 are in New York State and 10 outside of New York State. I received 7 interviews; 6 were from programs in New York State and 1 outside of New York State.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: My biggest advice, aside from securing a solid GPA, above average MCAT score, and leadership opportunities through your extracurricular activities, would be to apply as early as possible during the application cycle. By having your completed application in as early as possible, it will be one of the first batches that the admissions committee look at. If they give you an interview, you would get one of the earlier ones (as early as late July). If you do well enough, you will get an early acceptance (as early as mid-October). After completing that first interview, subsequent interviews will feel like a stroll through the park; after securing that first acceptance, do I even have to tell you how happy you will be? However, applying late does not mean the end of the world. I finished my secondary application in October, got interviews in February and March, and still got into medical school. But it was a stressful period when my friends were getting acceptances while I was still waiting for interviews. So, be smart and apply early!


Headshot: Slavena Salve Nissan

Name: Slavena Salve Nissan
Major: Biology
Overall GPA: 3.88
Graduation Year: Spring 2015
Matriculation Year: 2016

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
Interning, Volunteering, and Research at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine; The Macaulay Messenger (online newspaper for the Macaulay community); Hunter Health (a website for Hunter pre-health students to contribute writing/visual art pieces); The MacZBlog (A Macualay Hunter student blog); and poetry and photography as hobbies.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: It varied from week to week. I became a better studier as my undergraduate studies progressed. I would make sure to do at least a light review of each lecture as soon as I could after each session so that my studying never became too overwhelming and to avoid cramming the night before an exam.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, Kaplan.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My clinical exposure and my ability to speak about my experiences from a patient-centered perspective. My ability to tie in my love of writing and storytelling into my passion for medicine. The fact that I put in a lot of time to make sure that the narrative that I was portraying was clear, concise, and an honest reflection of my experiences.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No, I only applied to schools in the Northeast.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Participate in extracurricular activities that you're actually interested in. Don't do anything just because you think the admissions office will like it. Experiment with different study methods, and develop good, consistent study habits. Experiment with different study methods, and develop good, consistent study habits. Create a good support system of family, friends, and mentors who will help guide you over the course of your journey.



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