35 minutes | Nov 3rd 2020

Facing Adversity as a Med School Applicant

M2 Sotonye Douglas shares how she never lost sight of her dream to become a doctor. [Show summary] Sotonye Douglas describes herself as an “imperfect” medical school applicant who nevertheless became a student at Quinnipiac Netter School of Medicine, overcoming tremendous barriers in the process. An "imperfect" applicant discusses her path to medical school. [Show notes] There's a myth out there that med students never fail, never drop a class, and all have high MCATs and GPAs. They're perfect. Or they don't get in.  Our guest today is determined and hardworking, but she has also overcome significant challenges on the way to medical school. She doesn't fit the myth of the perfect med student, but she is nevertheless a proud M2. Sotonye Douglas is a second year MD student at Quinnipiac Netter School of Medicine. She was born to immigrant parents from Jamaica and Nigeria and grew up in Brooklyn in New York City. From a young age, she wanted to be a doctor, but working her way through high school and college made it hard to get good grades, much less prep for the MCAT. Yet today, she is an M2. Let's hear her story of hard work, perseverance, and tremendous determination directly from her. Can you tell us a little bit more about your background outside of medicine? When did you start working? What do you like to do for fun? [1:59] To go back in time a little bit, I did start working when I was in high school. I was working, but I was also student body president. I was also a cheerleader. I was very, very busy even then. I think that's when I started learning how to multitask. That's what kicked it off in high school: me learning how to be professional and how to juggle and how to run from one thing to the next. But for fun, I like to spend time with family and loved ones when I can because I do have a lot of family internationally. I love visiting family and trying to get away and travel. That's my release. How did you figure out that you wanted to be a doctor? [2:56] From a very young age, I found this interest in science. It just seemed so interesting to me. I also speak about having a very deep and robust interest in art. As a kid, when people would ask me, I would say, "Oh, I want to be a doctor." But as I started to get older and as I got into junior high school, I had this opportunity: There's this program that is no longer in New York City called the Gifted Program. It was for students who were talented and gifted, basically students that were performing higher on exams and stuff. They had special classes and things worked into our schedule. I had the opportunity to be exposed to a Saturday program for anatomy, and there were models and stuff. They brought different organs. And I had never seen any of that before. I knew what organs were, I knew what a heart was, I knew what a brain was. I knew what these things were, but I had never seen models. I would have been around 11 or 12. And seeing the models, they reminded me of sculptures. The arteries are in red; the veins are in blue. It was seeing the vibrancy and real organs. Since being in anatomy lab, I know that that's not actually what it looks like, at least in anatomy lab, but just seeing it at that age, it caught my attention because it reminded me of a sculpture. And I think at that point, I started seeing the connections between art and science, and that anatomy class solidified medicine for me. That's when I was getting ready to go into high school, and I said, "I need to be in a high school that's going to help me continue this." My old guidance counselor and the high school secretary, they remind me every time they see me: "I remember your first day at school, you came in and you said that you wanted to be a doctor." They remind me all the time now when they see me. It was just something that I felt very strongly. And despite everything that happened, I’ve always remembered having this overwhelming feeling of,
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