A few Sundays ago, my friend John ’11 and I sat ourselves down at au bon pain with some chai tea (my favorite kind! I actually don’t drink coffee, so tea is my 24-hour staple) and had a marathon study session for our midterm in American Health Care Policy. It was interrupted briefly by our two hour student study network for Life Sciences 1a—we’re both facilitators, which means we staff classrooms in the Science Center on Sunday night and help freshman with their problem sets. Going through the sets of slides and taking turns explaining the concepts to each other, I started thinking about how awesome it was to be able to ask him what adverse selection meant and why moral hazard led to a welfare loss (things I can now explain and did explain on my midterm!) The morning of the midterm, he texted me asking a question and I later emailed him with my last-minute confusions. Since we became friends last year, I’ve known I can count on him.
That’s what I love about the students at Harvard. When I held the intro meeting for the Harvard Premedical Society during freshman week and our ice cream social during April Visiting Weekend, I got asked the same questions over and over again: Is Harvard competitive? Are all the students cutthroat? Coming to Harvard, I didn’t know what to expect, and listening to these students voice their concerns, I realized that for many, the atmosphere they encountered during April Visiting Weekend was an important factor in their decision to come to Harvard for college. So, what’s the truth? What are we like?
From my experience, Harvard students are the opposite of cutthroat. My friend John ’11 would always take time out of his studying to answer my questions about health care, even about things he already understood. When I went to a volunteering shift at Brigham and Women’s Hospital my freshman year and suddenly realized my problem set was due in 10 minutes, I called my roommate, who not only woke up, but found my problem set in the pile of papers on my desk, changed, and walked to the Science Center to drop it off for me in my Teaching Fellow’s box. Sophomore year, I remember having my blockmate Jeremy ’11 explain confusing concepts to me as we sat eating breakfast before our Molecular Biology midterm. Junior year, I asked countless MCAT questions to my friends Kevin ’11 and Eric ‘11—and since we took the MCAT on three consecutive Saturdays, we all went to Pinocchio’s, a local pizza place, for a late night dinner when the person taking the test got back from the testing center Saturday night as a mini-celebration. And now, senior year, my friends and I who are applying to medical school or MD/PhD programs are always there for each other—whether through text messages after a difficult interview, email encouragement, or interview prep the night before. We have each other’s back—that’s what matters, and that’s what it means to be a Harvard student.
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