Art school dropout to the military to med school! You can do it too!

So, my intro to this site came through the OldPreMeds Podcast. It seemed pretty apropos of my situation, so I ended up subscribing to The Premed Years and The MCAT Podcast (this one was especially helpful–got me to try NextStep, which I think really helped me get the score I got). This post is really just to provide some encouragement because I heard so much encouragement from Dr. Gray, that I want to give some to the community too. I wanted to share my story briefly, because I really believe if I can get accepted to medical school, anyone can. This is going to be a bit of a longer post, but I’ll try to just summarize.

Anyway, tl;dr: I have had a pretty circuitous path, and despite a very poor academic history and a lot of twists and turns, I just got accepted to my top choice medical school and start in July.

I went to art school right out of high school back in 2002, then dropped out after only a semester. I started off my academic career poorly, getting a smattering of As, Cs, and an F. Not great. After a full year of working dead-end jobs waiting for something great to fall into my lap, my sister recommended I go to a vocational school to become an OR tech since I “liked science and wanted to help people” (sound familiar?). That’s where I discovered how awesome medicine is, but this isn’t a personal statement, so I’m not going to get all deep and go into how transformative it was. I’ll just say that it showed me how fulfilling it is being intimately involved in another person’s life when they are going through scary times.

Well, you’d think that I’d have gone back to school, focused on my grades, did well, and then got accepted. Nope. I was unfocused and immature. Instead, I thought I was the bee’s knees and would easily get accepted into med school no matter how I did, so I just took courses I thought would be interesting–and if they weren’t, I’d just drop them even if it was past the drop/add period.

I started out fine, getting a 4.0 my freshman year, but it quickly declined as I transferred to school after school, and I ended up dropping out of college again–this time with a 3.085, 3 Fs, and 26 Ws. That’s not a typo. I had over 2 dozen withdraws.

At that point, I decided to take some time off, so I became a professional musician and writer and made a living that way for two years. It was interesting, but not fulfilling. It did, however, show me that I really needed to get my rear in gear, as I was 27 and had no degree, no real job, and no future.

So I joined the Navy. The military was exactly the kick in the ass I needed to get my rear in gear. I joined as an E-3 because of my college, and I totally drank the Kool-aid and let it make me into a more focused, mature person. I hit my first command running, got completely qualified in less than a year, and then started taking courses to finish my degree. I started completely over with a new major, only transferring in gen ed courses, and finished with my BA in mathematics in 2016.

I also got married and had two kids during that process, plus a deployment and a whole bunch of underways. It was waaaaay more difficult than when I went to school the first time, but I was way more mature. I graduated with a 3.6 (stupid advanced stats!) and applied for an active duty postbacc program called the Enlisted to Medical Degree Preparatory Program, which takes 5 active duty Sailors and sends them to school to take all the prereqs and the MCAT so they can apply to medical school.

That program is where I started listening to Dr. Gray’s podcasts. They gave me plenty of encouragement and motivation to keep going, and the MCAT Podcast convinced me to try out NextStep, which I found to be a great resource. I finished the postbacc with a 3.93 and got a 519 on the MCAT.

Despite that performance though, my past still haunted me. My AMCAS GPA was only a 3.43, and I still had those 26 Ws and 4 Fs. Not great. But I had faith that God put me in that program for a reason, and I applied. I got waitlisted at the first two schools I interviewed at.

But in the middle of December, I found out I was accepted to my top choice school. I’m going to be starting med school in six months, and I cannot wait.

There are so many non-trads out there who are applying who think schools will shun them because of their different paths, but if you show them you can handle the academics, they will love your non-traditional story. At all three of my interviews, all they wanted to hear about were the crazy things I’ve done over the last 16 years since I graduated high school. Embrace your non-traditional status! We make the class more interesting and have a lot to offer a medical school class!

Anyway, that’s it. Sorry it was so long, but I just wanted to let y’all know that even an art school dropout with 11 transcripts, 26 Ws, and 4 Fs can make it to med school, so you can too!

Hi! Dr. Gray read your post and he was wondering if you would be interested in coming on the podcast? We would love to have you! Your story will resonate with many of our listeners.

Thank you,