1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Hello! My name is Ruth Amaku, and I’m currently a graduate student at the UT Health School of Public Health working on a Masters in Epidemiology with a concentration in Global Health. My goal is to apply to medical school upon completion of my program in 2019 with aims to begin my medical school journey in 2020.
Although I was born and raised in Houston, my roots are in Nigeria where I spent about two years from 2007-2009 residing in Port Harcourt and attending boarding school. My time in Nigeria was challenging to say the least but extremely fruitful as I not only learned more about my culture, but I also gained an interest in malaria transmission. I hope to return to Nigeria in the future to treat those affected by malaria and conduct research on effective control practices.
2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? Dr. Wright, my Anatomy and Physiology II professor definitely had the most significant impact on me thus far. I took her course during my 2nd gap year when I was somewhat unsure about whether my journey to medical school would ever become a reality. On syllabus day, Dr. Wright had each person introduce themselves and include the profession they were pursuing. She must have caught a hint of uncertainty in my voice when I said “medical school” because after class, she pulled me aside explained I was not alone. She discussed moments of doubt concerning whether she would reach her ultimate aspirations within the field of medicine. Her goal was to open a free clinic in Galveston but had not due to one circumstance after the next. However, she stressed that she never ceased to give up on her dreams because having the ability to persevere through obstacles is apart of any journey we may face.
3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? As a child, I always had an interest in the colorful pages filled with a variety of diseases in the pathology textbooks my mother used during her lectures. Years later when I understood many of those pages outlined the association with vectors and their effects on their human host, I knew my interests as a child unknowingly centered around infectious diseases. Fast forward to today, I’m working on my master’s in public health in epidemiology with a concentration in global health with hopes to address the burden of infectious disease like malaria on populations and in doing so, treating individuals affected by these diseases.
Additionally, I worked on an oncology care unit for a year and a half after college as a patient services coordinator. During my daily interactions with patients and their family members, listening to their unique stories, and providing any assistance within my capability to serve as a positive contribution during their time in the hospital further solidified my purpose and passion for improving the well-being of patients through the practice of medicine.
4. What area of medicine are you interested in? With my experiences thus far, my interests are widespread. As a track and field athlete during undergrad, I was attracted to specialties related to sports medicine like orthopedic surgery and physical medicine and rehabilitation. My graduate studies in the field of epidemiology reintroduced me to the world of infectious diseases and global health and shifted my focus there. Currently, I work at a cancer institution which most recently sparked my interest in oncology. As you can see, there is not a particular area I’m leaning towards at the moments, but once I’m in medical school, I’m sure I’ll narrow it down or possibly find a specialty that encompasses all three.
5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? Coolest experience hands down would be the very first time I observed a surgery in the operating room. I was shadowing an orthopedic surgeon at the time and the surgery scheduled was a total knee replacement using a titanium implant. From the initial incision, I was captivated by the surgeon’s skills, attention to detail, and confidence while conducting this complex surgery. As the procedure continued, I was enthralled by the restructuring of each portion of the knee using implants handpicked to fit and reproduce the function of the parts they replaced. Finally, near the conclusion of the surgery when the physician manipulated and rotated the knee in every possible way to ensure the tibial and femoral components were working appropriately, I realized this was the most remarkable event I had ever witnessed couldn’t wait until my next moments in the OR.
6. What is your favorite book? Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It was the first time in a long time I found myself so intrigued and entranced by the contents of a novel that I had a hard time putting it down!
7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. I recently got into 3D designing and printing as a hobby. My local library began offering an Intro to 3D Printing class, and I decided to check it out since I basically live in the library on most days. The class discussed the history of 3D printing, the unique applications of 3D printing today, and how to use websites, like Tinkercad, to create your own designs. Interestingly enough, through this class, I learned about bioprinting, the formation of extremely realistic artificial vessels, organs, and bones that can be used for medical testing and training. Although my current experience limits me to creating simpler objects like keychains and iPhone accessories, I’d love to learn more about the steps involved in bioprinting and observe this process being carried out.
8. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do? Anyone who knows me knows I love 2 things: HGTV and the home décor section of Hobby Lobby. It would be pretty cool to combine the knowledge I have gained from binge-watching Joanna Gaines transform spaces into a homeowner’s dream and my knack for eye-catching decorations to become a professional interior designer.
9. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it? Comparison in a nutshell. Often, I find myself ranking my achievements and accomplishments thus far to that of other potential applicants who can lead to feelings of inadequacy. But great thing there are so many tips to help with any worries associated with preparing for medical school! Here are a few methods I use to get out of that rut:
1. Staying active in my faith. Turning to the bible for reassuring verses and continuously asking God for the courage and strength to persevere has been an enormous comfort during this journey.
2. Sharing my distress with people closest to me. My friends and family members who genuinely want to see me succeed regularly provide words of encouragement to help me get through rough moments.
3. Avoiding certain forums that discuss applicant stats and experience. Of course, these forums could serve as a benefit to others, but I’ve seen them become a place where premeds compete for who has the best background and can often do more harm than good. Instead, I pull out my list of accomplishment to remind myself of all the hard work I’ve done leading up to this point.
4. Reminding yourself that the journey to medical school looks different for everyone. Traditional and non-traditional student are both included in the overall diversity of experiences that make up any cohort, and medical schools are so much better because of this.
10. What do you like most about PreMed STAR? PreMed STAR gives members a platform with quality resources beneficial at any point during the journey to medical school. From free MCAT study materials to webinars discussing the day in a life of a medical student, there is infinite knowledge to gain from what PreMed STAR has to offer. Time spent here is time well spent guaranteed!
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