It’s been a few days now since I’ve received my acceptance and it’s so surreal. I’m hoping this post will touch at least one person and help motivate them to never give up on their dream.
PART I - Failure
I started my first undergraduate degree in 2008 in a city away from my family. I was 16 years old at the time and chose to study biomedical sciences. I was also a member of a varsity sports team and was super motivated to get good grades and eventually attend a Canadian medical school. Then life hit me in the face with a sack of bricks. During my first year of this degree, my father lost his battle with leukaemia. The loss of my father flipped my world upside down. With extended family members fighting over his estate, feeling isolated while attending school, and my grades suddenly plummeting...I lost my path. My grades suffered heavily and instead of taking the time to grieve I tried to push my feelings aside. Instead of taking ownership of the situation I blamed my poor academic performance on the degree. So I switched into engineering, performed even worse, and then ultimately ended up switching to a degree in chemistry. I was the captain of the varsity team at this point and then retired from sport. I finished my chemistry degree with a 2.x GPA but managed to get my name on a research paper. I also wrote the MCAT and decided not to study...you can imagine how well that went. Thankfully, after graduation the legal disputes surrounding my father’s estate was resolved shortly after graduating. I took some time to evaluate my life and figure out what was important to me. I also attended therapy sessions and took the time to grieve. I knew that I wanted to practice medicine in Canada so I figured out a plan to make that dream become a reality.
PART II - Road to Redemption
I moved back home and came to this forum to see if it was possible. I’m grateful to have found and read some of the stories on here because it helped me figure out what to do. In 2014 I chose to enrol in a second undergraduate degree. My plan was to be accepted to either Western or Queens Med since they look at your best two years. This time I studied economics because I was interested in learning something more applicable to everyday life. It would also only take me 3 years to complete. I worked full time in a factory, volunteered, and researched during this time. There was no room for error. It was challenging and after my first year of Econ I had a 3.83 GPA (only considering the Econ grades here). I felt it had to be higher so I studied even more and cut my hours at the factory to part time. In the summer between the first and second year I wrote the new MCAT, studied, but only scored a 505 (damn it). I brought my second year Econ GPA up to a 3.98 and studied for the MCAT the following summer...508 (damn it). I put my head down for the final year of my Econ degree and graduated with a 2 year GPA of 3.95. Good enough for Western and Queens. I graduated with the gold medal from economics and received other academic awards based on my performance. Things were starting to turn around for me. I needed to bring my MCAT score up so I left the factory and took the year to solely focus on Med school apps. I studied in the summer of 2017 for 60+ hours per week and wrote the MCAT in July. Shortly after, I began doing contract work for the university as a research assistant. I started on my Med school app just in case I scored well on my 4th attempt. I got my score back and it was a 515. I was relieved that it was above the cutoffs for Schulich. I submitted my app and worked in the mean time. I received an interview invite to Western and prepped like there was no tomorrow. Though looking back on it, I didn’t prep adequately. I interviewed and was normal wait listed. Unfortunately I waited all summer and didn’t get an offer.
PART III - Success
During the waiting period I started thinking of contingency plans. I knew that it was a gamble to just wait around for an acceptance. I also needed to start working because whatever money I had saved from the factory was disappearing. It’s nearly impossible to get a professional job with an undergrad so I looked into Masters programs related to Econ. It was past the deadline for all masters applications. However, I took a chance and emailed the admissions committees of two programs. The Toronto program said tough luck, while the Western program indicated that a student had declined their offer so there was an open spot. I wrote my essays and gathered my transcripts in 24 hours and applied. Within a few days the director of the program scheduled an interview and I was accepted. In 2018 I started my Master of Financial Economics degree with the goal of starting a career in investment banking. I put the thought of medicine out of my mind for a while because I couldn’t apply until this degree was over and I wanted a solid plan B career in place. I networked with over 100 finance professionals (cold calls, emails, blind coffee chats in Toronto, networking events etc.) - little did I know all this talking to strangers would help down the road . I ultimately landed an internship at a global finance firm with their boutique investment banking team in the summer of 2019. In May 2019 I moved to Toronto for my internship. The hours were long and I spent that summer grinding to get a full time offer. In August I received a full time offer at the end of my internship and breathed a sigh of relief. Around this time, the idea of medicine started creeping back into my mind. I started to question whether investment banking was aligned with my values as a person. After some introspection I realized it would not offer me the personal fulfillment that I’ve been looking for. I sat down with my partner and explained to her that I wanted to give medicine another shot. She supported me completely. I was scheduled to start the final semester of my Masters degree in Sept so started on my Med application in August. I spent two months refining every aspect of my application (essays, ABS, picking good references etc.). I applied to Toronto, Western, Queens and Ottawa. In October my employment contract came in the mail and I asked for a March 2020 start date because I wanted to use the time between graduating from my masters and starting work to prepare for interviews (hopefully). I felt comfortable with my interviewing skills because of all the networking I did during my Masters and all of the finance interviews I had. However, I still spent a lot of time preparing because I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. I received one interview at Schulich and scheduled an early March interview date because I knew my workload would start to pick up if I delayed the process. I interviewed and felt okay about it all. Now the waiting began...luckily I had work to keep me distracted. As May 12 (decision day) grew closer I started picking apart every answer and felt nervous. Try not to do this. I woke up on May 12, 2020 to some fantastic new from Schulich and started to cry tears of joy with my partner. All of my hard work finally paid off. I am truly honoured and thrilled to be a part of the Schulich Med family.
PART IV - Takeaway
It took me 12 years to receive an acceptance to a Canadian medical school. That time consisted of 2 undergraduate degrees, 4 MCAT attempts a masters degree, working on Bay St. and 2 application cycles. There were a select few people in my corner and honestly I’m sure some of them lost faith in me. I remember being told to try for the Caribbean, Ireland, or Australia. I ignored their suggestions and chose to remain steadfast and believe in myself. By taking the harder path I grew a lot as an individual and was able to have some really cool experiences that I hope to draw from as I begin my journey as a medical student and beyond. Please never give up on your dream, the time it takes to accomplish something should not deter you from striving towards long term happiness and fulfillment.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions feel free to PM me