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Pre-Health Alumni Speak to Students about Life after USciences

By Rosie Digironimo

Published on June 10, 2020

Alumni of USciences’ Pre-Health Professions Program shared their experiences with current students during a virtual alumni event on May 8, 2020, giving advice about applying to graduate school, the transition into their graduate programs, and the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Sammi DonovanSammi Donovan BMS’19, a first-year medical student at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, credits research experience during her four years at USciences and being a teaching assistant with helping her application stand out to get into medical school. Donovan said the transition to medical school was like entering a whole new world.

“I was surrounded by these amazing, smart people and at the end of the day, I had to realize that I was chosen to be accepted along with these people and that I belong here,” she said. “This awareness helped me acclimate.” 

Kavina Naik BMS’18, a third-year physician assistant student at Rutgers University, attributes her involvement in a sorority, the Honors Program, and participating in research at USciences for helping her get into a Physician Assistant program. “I almost didn’t apply to Rutgers,” said Naik. “Had I not applied, I would not be attending my dream Kavina Naikschool! You never know what someone else might see in you and value as a student.” 

Naik also encouraged all pre-health professionas students to meet with their advisor, saying Judy Chen, coordinator of Pre-Health Professions Advising, was helpful in her application process and she wished she met with Chen sooner. 

Chandat Phan BMS’18, a first-year medical student at Penn State College of Medicine, emphasized to students the importance of finding your identity throughout college. He stressed that so many students applying to health professions school have 4.0 GPA’s and strong test scores. Finding a way to differentiate yourself as a person will set you apart during the application process. 

“After freshman year, instead of dwelling on a bad grade...I focused on developingChandat Phan my character. Grades are redeemable,” said Phan. 

Phan said there isn’t only one path to medical school with a specific major, grade, test score, or experience. “Pursuing your passions will only help build your character and make you stand out from the crowd,” he said. 

Ria Vij Bio’19, a first-year dental student at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, believes the strong science foundation that she acquired from USciences helped her transition into dental school. 

“Going into dental school I kept an open mind and did not shut out any possibilities including becoming a general dentist. After learning a lot in the first year, I do have an interest in pediatric dentistry,” said Vij. 

Riz VijThe COVID-19 pandemic has not disrupted their trajectories. Donovan said her school has allowed students to take part in volunteer and research opportunities and she has been able to assist in taking blood donations, testing for antibodies, and has also worked on research by evaluating data from COVID positive patients. 

“Not only are these opportunities giving me clinical experience but they are also allowing me to give back to the brave healthcare workers who are fighting the pandemic,” said Donovan. 

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