So my next hurdle began when trying to study for the dreaded MCAT exam…
I researched as much as I could find, and all the advice I was getting seemed to be telling me to sign up for an MCAT prep course. Boy do I wish I could go back in time. During the spring semester of my Junior year I signed up for the Kaplan prep course..mind you I was also a Resident Advisor, active church member, and track team member at this time.. whew chile the stupidity. I really thought I could balance it all and tried to… it didn’t work out as evidenced by my practice exam scores. But God’s got me right? Surely the real exam will be different? WRONG. I kept pushing my date back until I finally took it in June. I ended up scoring in the low 490’s on my first real MCAT and immediately signed up to take it again. Another regret. I was working a 40+ hour summer research program while trying to re-study for this exam. God, what was I thinking? I took it again in September of my Senior year and guess what? I received the SAME score as the first time I took it. Shocking right?
At this point I had already submitted my AMCAS application and after receiving what I thought was adequate advice, I decided to take my chances and continue the application process. Unfortunately (or fortunately 😀 ) I received not a single acceptance letter that cycle. I was crushed, but not deterred. I thank God that I had applied and was accepted to the Medical/Dental Education Preparatory Program (MEDPREP) at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. This was not at all where I wanted to go obviously, but it sure was where I needed to be. Boy was I in for a surprise when I got down to Carbondale, IL. It’s a very small town with not very much to do, which I guess made focusing on my studies a bit easier. I started the MEDPREP post-bacc program and my Masters degree in Biological Sciences during the summer of 2016.
The program was/is tough. Period. I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting though. Things picked up that very fist day of classes. 8 to about 4 p.m. every day for 6 weeks during the summer. “Boot camp” was what they called it. It was difficult because I had to readjust my study habits even more than in undergrad. The same routines wouldn’t fly. It took me a while but I finally got a rhythm down. I learned a new style of studying called mapping (look it up!), talked with professors, and really just worked harder, harder than I ever did before I would say. I had to prioritize my life big time. Alotting the right amount of time to studying and to relaxing. Honestly, this program made me realize that I did have it in me. My first exam grade was an A, and so was the next and the next, until the semesters were over and I had a 4.0. I knew I wasn’t dumb! Lol I always knew I had it in me since grade school and high school, but I guess it just took the a program like this to fully bring it out of me. While in Carbondale, I experienced a lot of growth and “eye opening” experiences both academically, mentally, & spiritually. My blog post “Rejected to Accepted” sums it up pretty well and is a continuation of ‘My Journey.’