I can’t believe it is already August! My apologies for not posting sooner, but I have a very long wrap-up post for all of you, and I may occasionally post to let you know what post-college life is like.
To finish up my previous posts, I started junior year excited to pursue an MD/PhD and registered for the SAT of medical school: the MCAT. Most of junior year was spent juggling classes and lab with studying, and I was ridiculously happy to be over with the MCAT when I took it at the beginning of reading period in May. From there I jumped straight into applications, which are centrally organized through AMCAS. The summer between junior and senior year I was trying to get data for my senior thesis in lab and writing draft after draft of essays for my primary application (which gets sent to all medical schools) and my secondary applications (which are specific to each medical school). In general, MD/PhD applicants follow a similar timeline to MD applicants, but we have more letters of recommendation (including a letter from every lab we have every worked in) and generally more essays, with the extra essays focused on our research and why we want to get two degrees and stay in school for a really long time. We also have longer interview days – I had anywhere from six to twelve interviews over a two to three day period per school, so fall of senior year I was lucky if I was able to make it to class (I ended up missing over forty days of school, and spent a lot of time getting work done on plane flights).
As I waited to hear back from programs (although some MD/PhD programs are rolling, many wait until march to release all of their spots as each school as so few spots) I wrote and rewrote my senior thesis, had it bound at kinko’s (which is open 24 hours!) and turned it in to the MCB Office. The process of writing my thesis was the most intellectually satisfying experience of my time as an undergraduate, and I am very grateful to my PI and postdoc for the time they put into mentoring me—I learned so much about neuroscience and kinase signaling pathways, but also about science as a profession. After turning my thesis in, I had the opportunity to revisit some of the MD/PhD programs I was deciding between, meet with professors I have admired throughout college, and hang out with the friends I had made during the application process. And then it was time for senior week and graduation!
My roommates and I at the Picnic! (courtesy Cara ’11)
It doesn’t feel too different to have graduated from college just yet but I will definitely miss Mather Dining Hall and not having to cook for myself! Of course, I didn’t go very far—I am now an MD/PhD candidate in the Health Sciences and Technology Program at Harvard Medical School/MIT (and all but one of my roommates and most of my blockmates and friends are still in the Cambridge/Boston area). This summer we started off the program with a summer course and a graduate school lab rotation, and in less than two weeks I will be getting my first white coat!
I was so lucky to graduate from college and be able to start the next phase of my life that I am incredibly excited about, and I hope the class of 2015 has a wonderful first year at Harvard College—it may not seem like it now, but the next four years will go by fast, so do your best to make the most of them!
If you have any questions about the MD or MD/PhD route, feel free to contact me at Alissa_D’Gama@hms.harvard.edu (Yes, my email has an underscore and an apostrophe!)