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UCI Pre-Med Graduate Talks About the Higher Education Mentoring Program

Higher Education Mentoring Program Graduate, Class of 2015, shares her UCI Premed experience – Fall of 2015 she attends UCLA to begin her journey to be a doctor

I was awarded a scholarship to participate in the 2014 University of California, Irvine Summer Premed Program. This program was a life changing experience. Before starting the program, I was interested in medicine and was looking into becoming a doctor.  After the program, I am certain that the medical field is my passion.

The Summer Premed program was a two week premed “crash course” at UC Irvine, taught by professors, doctors, and guest speakers.  I had a daily agenda that listed the activities of the day, including many “hands on” medical tasks, and every day was a memorable adventure.  For example, I learned how to suture a wound by suturing a pig’s leg (which was more difficult than I expected).  I also participated in a Gross Anatomy lab where we worked with a cadaver to learn about the human body.  Although I was nervous to see a cadaver, actually seeing the human body during the lab was extremely helpful to my learning experience.  And with the exception of the smell, I learned that there was nothing scary about working with a cadaver.  I also learned how to apply a cast, insert an IV, and use an ultrasound machine.  In addition, I had the opportunity to learn about Urology Robotics and actually got to use the da Vinci surgical robot.

One of the most memorable experiences of the Summer Premed program was a group project involving interviewing a patient, studying her medical ailments, and reporting her diagnosis to the class.  The patient my group interviewed was battling cancer and suffering from other complications.  Although I felt sad for our patient and empathized with her, it was an amazing experience to work with a patient, learn about her medical condition, and her prognosis for the future.

The Summer Premed Program reaffirmed my interest in science, my plan to major in biology in college and to attend medical school. I am fascinated by the evolution of life and how much there is to know and learn about living beings.  At the end of the Summer Premed Program, the staff held a White Coat Ceremony in which I was awarded a white lab coat for my participation in the program.  I wore the white lab coat proudly during and after the ceremony and dream of wearing a white lab coat and treating patients in my community in the future.

I owe tremendous thanks to my Higher Education Mentoring Program Mentor, Ashley Merlo, who helped me through the application process. In fact, she was the one who presented me the opportunity. She met up with me and revised my application. I can’t thank her enough for always going out of her way to help me.