We’ve heard it all before. First day of lecture, a thousand or so young budding life science students walk into Convocation Hall. Inside, a professor awaits ready to distribute knowledge about pikas, DNA polymerases, and cis and trans double bonds. Needless to say, you’re excited. University will be a breeze and soon you’ll be Dr. Awesomesauce. Then wham, bam, the professor starts off the lecture with a shocker. He asks everybody “how many of you plan to go to medical school?” Every person in the lecture hall raises their hand and the competition begins…
Before you ask, yes I want to be Dr. Awesomesauce and go to medical school. I want to have the demeanor of JD and Turk and the sweaters of Dr. Huxtable. I want to use my position as a doctor to push for social change and work towards a world where all people have access to good health care regardless of their ability to pay. My inspirations are the good people at the UMMA Community Clinic is South Los Angeles, where they treat everybody regardless of whether they have insurance or not (we take our national healthcare for granted in Canada). I know it will take hard work and truthfully it is a challenge, but inshallah (god willing) I’ll make it.
I resist the label pre-med though. I am not a premed. My name is Abdullah and I study Cell and Molecular Biology, Psychology and American Studies. I am the product of humble people who were swept from their villages in Sri Lanka to the ivory towers of the Midwestern United States. I like eating cake, and American football. I read Les Miserables this summer. I love the butterscotch toffee coffee at Diabolos and my playlist juxtaposes groups like Mumford and Sons with artists like Tupac and Taylor Swift. And worringly, I find One Direction increasingly catchy. I want to be a doctor, but I refuse to be defined by my future career.
I remember before I joined the Varsity on campus, I was involved with a small campus health advocacy group. It was nice, but while I am interested in medicine, the group wasn’t for me. After that , I went out and pursued my other interests. I realized that I was very passionate about student issues and improving the university where I study, so I ran for a student union and became an executive on ASSU. As a Muslim on campus, I joined the Muslim Students Association and became social media director for their magazine. Joining the MSA has exposed me to a lot of different people and has made me feel a deeper connection to my faith. And this week, I decided to try something new. As mentioned two weeks ago, I decided to help out at a soup kitchen on campus (at St. Basil’s church) once a month.
It was a new experience and I’m glad I spent my Tuesday morning making sandwiches for people with a bunch of U of T students I would not have met had I decided to sleep in that morning. It was a relaxed atmosphere with Pink music playing in the background (yes, you read that right). Surprisingly there were are a lot of grad students there and I overheard their many tales about grad school – which left me both intrigued and trembling. It was an enjoyable experience and apparently if I come back three times, I get a Pink song assigned to me. I wonder which one that will be …
To all my life scis in the struggle, I say go pursue your interests on campus. If you are involved in a health based group and you enjoy it, then power to you. But don’t feel the need to have to get involved with a health group because that’s what you think you need to get into medical school. No! You’re all beautiful people and you shouldn’t have to stifle your interests for an application. If you’re into spoken word poetry, if you’re into meditation or card games, go out and pursue that! I guarantee that this campus will have an outlet for the creative expressions of your soul.
If you would like to volunteer at the Out of the Cold soup kitchen: it runs every Tuesday from 9 AM – 2 PM. Go to the kitchen in the basement of St. Basil’s Church (located at SMC) and say you’re there to volunteer. No registration necessary and after three visits, you get a PINK song.