No matter what your academic past may look like, success in the future is attainable. I am a second year graduate student at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in the Master of Arts (MA) in Biomedicine program. Despite my own academic highs and lows, my passion for pursuing a career in medicine and global health has not faded. It has kept me grounded through times of uncertainty. When trying to prove yourself beyond your academic history, it can be difficult to find a program that fosters personal growth in work and study habits, as well as academic achievement. I am fortunate to have found the “right fit.” Regardless of a student’s background, I believe that those who have the desire to excel and the tenacity to pursue their goals will benefit from the small, collaborative environment.
While many post-baccalaureate programs in the biomedical sciences exist nationwide, it is vital to choose a program that works with you, as a student, to help achieve your academic goals; a program that holds students to high academic standards while also providing opportunities to flourish in the basic sciences through the support of faculty and staff. I have been able to tailor my curriculum to incorporate my own specific interests and needs. Additionally, faculty and staff welcome student feedback about the program, which greatly enhances the quality of instruction and education that my peers and I receive. Excellent instruction demands academic excellence from the students as well. However, the faculty and staff provide the necessary support in order for students to meet, and even exceed, those expectations.
In addition to academic rigor and faculty/staff support, there are other important qualities to consider when choosing a post-bac medical program. Things to look for are a small student-to-faculty ratio, a program that emphasizes collaborative approaches to teaching/learning, passionate professors who give priority to teaching, and a program with a thesis/research component.
A multidisciplinary approach to healthcare focuses on the mind, body, and soul. I have had the opportunity to apply this integrated perspective to health in a variety of leadership roles, including serving as an ambassador for a healthcare organization, shadowing and engaging with patients through my practicum experience, and performing research for my thesis. The program also incorporates a cross-cultural component, which enables students to gain exposure to international health and volunteer opportunities abroad. I chose to participate in ISL’s Global Health program in Nicaragua, allowing me to volunteer and serve medically underserved populations. All of these opportunities have enriched my academic experience, teaching me things that cannot be learned in a classroom.
As you consider your own academic future, I leave you with one final consideration: if you have the will and the desire to succeed, don’t sell yourself short! It does not matter how old you are or what circumstances you face. “You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand new ending” (Sherman, 1982, p.45). Truly, anything is possible when you believe in yourself!