1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Hi! My name is Stephanie Nelson, and I live in Honolulu, Hawaii. I grew up in Neenah, Wisconsin, and as soon as I turned 18 I moved to Callahan, Florida with my Dad. I eventually moved to South Carolina, Missouri, and then Hawaii on my own. I love to travel, and I am very grateful for the opportunities that allowed me to do so.
I am currently a sophomore at the University of Hawaii at Manoa studying Biology and Life Sciences. In my free time I volunteer at the local hospital and with a equine therapy group for special needs children, but I love to sit on the beach and read a good book, or hike the trails many here.
2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? My favorite teacher in school was my freshman chemistry teacher, Mr. Clark. On our first day of class, he walked into class and showed us a variety of chemical reactions that included setting one of the lab benches on fire. Over the course of the semester, he taught the class in such a way that showed me how science could be fascinating and a useful resource to understanding the world around you. He was also an advocate for us to seek out our passions, rather than things that are just hobbies. I remembered that when I started to apply for college which caused me to think and research about my academic goals longer than I would have, leading me to the Natural Science bachelors degree.
3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? My passion for medicine stems from my long involvement with doctors, hospitals, and clinics. I was what most people would call a clumsy child; in truth, it was carelessness leading to a plethora of ear infections, stomach bugs, and bruises. When I was eight, I ran head first into the bike rack hanging off of the back of my father’s camper. I remember hearing a sharp crack and falling to the concrete sidewalk in front of the garage before I recognized my head was in a considerable amount of pain. I noticed by the droplets of blood that had fallen to the sidewalk, as well as the streaks down my glasses and face. It was my third emergency room visit that year, and even at that age, I remember being fascinated with the nurses and doctors rushing around with great purpose. A nurse came to lead us back to the bed; there she took my vitals and I watched with curiosity, but I was scared. I didn’t know why I felt so cold, or why my fingertips were numb, or why my stomach hurt so badly. I know, now, that is due to the amount of blood I lost. My doctor came in and introduced herself as Doctor Snow. She calmly sat down, and asked me what happened. I told her the story and she laughed warmly while commenting that our eyes are in the front to watch where we are going. My step mom loved that comment and she shot me a look. Doctor Snow began cleaning the wound, which ended up being fifteen stitches above my brow bone, and explained everything she was doing. She answered every question I chucked at her, and believe me, I had a lot of questions. I asked everything from “What are you doing now?” to “How did you learn that?” To this day, I still remember her and that interaction, how she was able to calm me down without me realizing it, and how the way she cared so much about my treatment and the science behind it gave me a deeper desire to do the same
4. What area of medicine are you interested in? Right now, I am interested in pediatrics because I absolutely adore kids and I get along with them really well. I am leaning towards surgery because I like the challenge of working against the clock (so to speak) to solve the puzzle of improving your patients quality of life. However, I am still in the early stages of my medical journey so I understand that may change, but I know for sure I want to work with children in some regard.
5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? The coolest experience I have had so far on my premedical journey was when I assisted in helping with the Teen Health Camp that the medical school here runs. I was able to assist with kids learning how to take vital signs, make plaster casts, and many other things. The coolest part about it was watching the joy on the faces of the kids as they learned more about the medical field, learning more about it myself, and, being able to answer questions and help ease the minds of the kids who want to follow the same path that I am currently on. However, a close second was practicing doing sutures on pigs feet.
6. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is a Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. I love this book because it does a great job of explaining answers to questions most people have about the creation of the universe and the universe itself in a way that it’s easy to comprehend.
7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. I really enjoy hiking, and one day I hope to be able to hike the Appalachian Trail, either fully or partially. My next big hike is the Na Pali Coast trail on Kauai, but that won’t be for another year yet.
8. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do? I would want to be a veterinarian because I love animals. It was a hard choice for me on whether I was going to pursue medicine for people or medicine for animals, but I chose medicine for people because I receive more fulfillment and feel I can do more good as a medical doctor.
9. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it? My biggest obstacle has been time management because I work full time, go to school full time, and have my extra curriculars on the side like volunteering, shadowing, and clubs. I tested a lot of options, but the one that was most beneficial to me was having a student planner type app on my phone where I am able to input not only my school schedule but my other commitments as well. I use an app called iStudiez Pro, but there are a bunch of really good ones out there like Google Calendar.
10. What do you like most about PreMed STAR? I like being able to connect with other Pre-Medical students and see what their personal journey is. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone, and that I have a community I can reach out to if I have any questions.
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