Conference to help pre-health students navigate choicesWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Monik Jimenez did not arrive at her position as a professor at Harvard Medical School via the traditional route, from high school to four-year college to graduate school.
Rather, the Harvard-educated instructor of public health attended continuation school after dropping out of high school, joined the Navy and then enrolled at a community college.
Shortly after she had started her undergraduate work, she became the primary caretaker of her mentally ill mother and took over custody of her sister who was just a baby at the time.
Jimenez, who will be a keynote speaker at the 2014 Midwest Pre-Health Conference at Bowling Green State University on Oct. 25, said some people looked at her as if she were crazy for enrolling at Harvard during such a difficult personal time, but she saw education as the key to her family’s salvation.
“I think a lot of times I felt overwhelmed and questioned whether I should stay in school,” Jimenez said during a telephone interview. “Long-term I knew it was for the best but short-term I was financially strapped and the caretaker for my entire family. So there was a lot of pressure on me to work. I resisted it — some people looked at me like I was crazy, but it was the only key to get out of our situation. I strongly felt that getting an education was the only way I could secure my situation and my future. Every challenge makes you stronger and you can’t grow if you’re not pushed.”
Jimenez called her path to her Ph.D. “strange” and “nontraditional.” The key qualities that helped keep her on that path are the qualities she will speak about at the conference: perseverance, discipline, self-initiative and motivation.
“I’m going to talk about qualities that are not typically measured in academics that I believe are key qualities in helping students succeed,” she said. “I’m giving, if you will, an unconventional recipe for success.”
The conference will bring medical and dental students together with admissions and medical professionals. The aim is to help students prepare for professional and graduate-level programs in medical, dental and pharmacy schools.
The conference takes place at Bowling Green State University Bowen-Thompson Student Union from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is free to all students. To register or for more information, go to www.mwprehealth.com.
The two keynote speakers and 14 panelists are medical professionals from Ohio State University, University of Findlay and ProMedica, among others, and from Ivy League schools Harvard, Yale and Columbia.
Jimenez has worked hard over her career to try and break the stereotype that an Ivy League school is inaccessible.
Creator and organizer of the event, Shermaine Hutchins, who is a pre-med student at BGSU, couldn’t agree more. He’s attempting to bring the Ivy League to the masses. After attending programs at Harvard and Yale, he wanted to give students opportunities to make themselves more competitive and show that the Ivy League is reachable.
“We’re really excited about the turnout,” Hutchins said about the conference. “There’s a lot of misinformation about going into community college and taking credits there and doing community service. After I finished the programs, I was sitting there [thinking] ‘Man, I’ve got so many friends who would benefit from this type of information.’ So I decided, ‘You know what, how about I do it myself?’ So I started making calls and emails. And fortunately we’ve had some really great response — to have Harvard, Yale and Columbia interested in coming to Ohio to share this information is really overwhelming.”
The MD/Ph.D. program at Yale School of Medicine started in 1973. About 70 percent of graduates are in full-time academic positions and 75 percent have research funding, most of it from the National Institutes of Health.
However, only about 10 out of 100 students interested in a doctorate program are interested in the MD/Ph.D. program, said panelist Dr. Fred Gorelick, the program’s deputy director. These doctors don’t earn as much as physicians, but the rewards are “enormous,” Hutchins said.
Dr. Louito Edje, director of the Family Medicine Residency Program at ProMedica Toledo Hospital, was sought out by Hutchins — as were all the other speakers and panelists — who gave her the key word for her keynote address: perseverance.
“There’s actually a significant amount of focus that needs to happen to achieve our goals in medicine,” Edje said. “We have to remain focused to get toward that goal. And as you persevere, you surround yourself with experts and those who have energy to move forward.”