One of the first questions a student thinks about upon starting their undergraduate career is, where do I go after this? Working after receiving a degree is always an option, but so is attending graduate school. However, as most current undergraduates students know all too well, choosing what to do after College, whether it be finding the proper job, looking into various graduate programs, or studying for the MCAT or LSAT is almost as tedious and overwhelming as when we were faced with all the possible prospects of universities at the end of high school. At an institution as grand as UCLA, it seems like there are endless resources at our disposal; on a daily basis we are berated with long emails filled with information about webinars, handshake opportunities, and zoom panels designed to help students navigate what life will be like after graduation. Yet, despite all this help, it can be difficult to sift through pages of department emails and pick the right events to attend.
As a current Neuroscience major at UCLA myself, I am still exploring the possibility of medical school and like many other students here, most of the information I receive about the trappings of the medical school process I hear from my peers. This quarter, I was fortunate enough to be made aware of an important event by my peers; a Jewish-affiliated group on campus called JMED intended to host a talk at Hillel by Doctor Jennifer Lucero, who is an Associate Dean of Admissions at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.
Finally, a familiar place with familiar faces where I could air out my curiosities. As I filed into Hillel along with some of my fellow classmates to find my seat, I noticed the large canvas poster with big blue letters reading “JMED” hung at the front of the room. As the time of the event drew closer, more people lined the rows of Hillel’s signature yellow folding chairs and soon, Dr. Lucero began to speak. Dr. Lucero started by giving a bit of background as to how she became a Doctor, earned her residency in two different careers, and subsequently, became an Associate Professor of Clinical Anesthesia & Perioperative Care at UCSF, serving as the department’s inaugural Vice Chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion prior to her current position at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Hands lingered in the air, beckoning Dr. Lucero with their urgency, and it quickly became clear that the upperclassmen, who were at the very beginning of the long process of applying to medical school had the most pressing questions. Is June too late to take the MCAT for this cycle? Does attending a 2-year college prior to transferring to a bigger university such as UCLA affect my chances of being accepted to medical school? And most commonly, how important is my MCAT score? Dr. Lucero answered each and every question as completely and fluidly as possible, sympathizing with the air of nervous energy that hung over the room. Dr. Lucero reassured everyone present that MCAT scores and GPA are just a portion of the application and emphasized that the narrative behind each student’s answer to the question of why medicine is more significant. She comforted us all by making each attendee feel heard and provided ample information such as websites to visit or UCLA affiliated clubs that help out with the path to medicine. She touched on a serious problem facing medical school admissions, namely that there is underrepresentation of certain minorities in the medical school applicant pool and talked about her duty, as Vice Chair of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the department of Anesthesia, to understand that each student has a unique background contributing to their interest in medicine. As a second-year undergraduate student, it feels as though the time to finally answer the ultimate question, where do I go after this? will demand an answer soon. Four years of undergraduate studies seem to fly by and with every option available to us now, I am grateful for the ability of Hillel to guide its students on the path to success in a career of interest by filtering all the support that UCLA has to offer.
“The views expressed in this post reflect the views of the author(s) and not UCLA or ASUCLA Communications Board.”