What was your major?
Biology at UT El Paso
What did you do before PA school?
I wandered the undergraduate realm, continuing my degree in biology expecting to go somewhere with it. I found myself returning to my old elementary school where my mother worked just to volunteer and give back to my old stomping grounds. I was hired shortly thereafter as a teacher’s aide, where it began as a simple job, helping grade papers, taking students from place to place. Once I began to work with the 7th and 8th grade students, I found a different kind of passion. I started to work more with the mathematics and science teachers, developing study habits and tutoring sessions for struggling students. It reminded me of the moments in school I truly struggled, and it became fuel for a new passion to provide someone who is willing to push themselves to succeed with every possible opportunity to do so.
What were the strengths/weaknesses of your application?
Weakest: I lacked any experiences in medicine, besides plenty of shadowing a PA (which doesn’t mean anything, really…). I didn’t know what normal blood pressure was, I didn’t know what the difference between types I and II diabetes was, and I didn’t know which end of the hypodermic needle was up.
Strongest: Some strong parts of my application were a GPA that met standards of competition, a pretty good application letter explaining why I wanted to be there, and this unique, albeit brief, part time teacher’s aide / tutoring career that paid more into my wellbeing than my wallet.
How did your strengths help you in the application process and in PA School?
This was an atypical presentation for a prospective PA student, and it had just enough peculiarity behind it that it was specifically asked about during my interview. My interviewer was so interested in this, wondering why I would subject myself to the educational conflict of the 12-14-year-old age group and expect to win. It was simple to me: at this point in their lives, just before they branch out into high school, these kids are eager, malleable, and vulnerable. I took it upon myself to instill as much kindness and compassion to these young adults, with touches of my own wisdom and experience from when I took my first steps outside of grade school into high school. I was happy to be a part of this critical stage of their lives. If my hounding made an impact on even one decision in their life for the better, then I did my job.
After explaining all this, I realized just how much of an impact teaching had on my life, and that kind of positivity to help shape and influence someone’s life is inspiring, regardless of what I planned to do with my life.
What was it like being so far from home? Texas is so big, you’re basically out of state based on the distance you drove to interview here!
Growing up in El Paso, Texas, it is 600 miles from the doorstep of my apartment to the doorstep of the place I called home. The first month was a struggle, being far and away from everything I knew. How does one “adult” overnight, living completely alone in a new city? It only takes a couple of days to realize that refrigerator doesn’t magically restock itself. The days that were mentally exhausting at school turned to emotionally exhausting nights. Fortunately, a kitten kept the darkness at bay, and I moved forward with the path I had chosen, and I was beginning to enjoy the challenge. You learn quickly that your classmates are in the trenches there with you, and you depend on each other far more than for just explaining a concept you didn’t understand in lecture.
How did you plan and budget for flight and hotel?
I had a fortunate case for this one. Being an only child, I am privileged (not spoiled, there’s a difference) to have the sole financial backing of my parents, so they were willing to help me pay for some of these application fees and traveling expenses, but I saved up my pennies from working my part time job to grab a few things myself. For this, I am eternally grateful.
Any tips for pre-PA students?
I can’t speak for having a previous career outside of medicine as applicable, as most schools are expecting you to have been a scribe, or a medical assistant, or EMT and want to expand your medical career by becoming a PA. They don’t expect a fresh college grad with nothing to my name to come knocking on their door expecting an admission. However, I went into this knowing I was at a significant disadvantage, but still had the courage and passion to pursue my dream. I did have a plan B, and a C, and I think I stopped around plan J, because hope can be a dangerous thing, and not getting into PA school and not having a plan would not make me any more fit to apply the next year.
But most importantly, believe in yourself. As cliché as it sounds, you are the only one who can push yourself to the limits of your sanity to keep fighting to get into school, stay in school, and walk out alive. I faced some of my darkest moments in PA school, because, surprise…it’s hard. And the thing that kept me going above all else was having compassion for where these long nights of studying would take me.