I debated talking about this for a while, and once I decided to do talk about it, I didn’t exactly know what I was going to say. Interviews are different for everybody, and up until then, I hadn’t known anyone to interview for med school, much less go. At the beginning of April, I had my first medical school interview at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. This was when I decided I wanted to keep the details of my process of getting to med school mostly private with the exception of a few friends and family members. Even though that still remains true, I want to help others who may feel like they’re flying blind, so here we are.
How did I get the interview in the first place?
Great question. My school is one of the partners for the Early Acceptance Program (EAP) where USCSOMG reserves a certain number of seats in their incoming class for students from different undergraduate institutions in the state. Claflin is the only HBCU involved in the partnership, and we had to go through advisors at our school for information about the process. Of course there was a GPA requirement among other things, but a few days after sending the requested information to the advisors, I was informed I was allowed to move to the next phase. The next phase was receiving the link for the application itself. Because of the structure of the EAP, there was a closed application link that was only sent to those who were invited to apply.
This entire process went fairly quickly. After receiving the link, I was informed by my school’s advisor that I had approximately two weeks to do the entire application. You read that correctly — 2 weeks. During this time, it was midterm week, I was fully immersed in classes and I was doing a pageant and had practice 3-4 days a week. Needless to say, I got basically no sleep. The application was basically a condensed version of the AMCAS application, but it hit all the major components and had others that were tailored specifically to the school. An advantage to doing this application so early is that I already have a lot of what I need for when I start the AMCAS application. The primary disadvantage was the actual amount of time I had to do it. I’ll never forget my experience with this application simply because of what it took for it to get submitted.
It was crazy. The application was due the same day I got my wisdom teeth taken out. Yep, all 4. I was up until about 2 or 3 AM finishing the application and my appointment was at 8. When I finally finished, I went to hit submit & THE LINK DID NOT WORK. AT ALL. It said the link was closed. So what did I do? Sent an email. I emailed our point of contact to let her know what happened, and I saw when I woke up she resolved the issue. The only issue now was I actually had to submit it. Long story short, I had my surgery, came back home, and slept for a few hours before my mom let me do anything. If you’ve ever had your wisdom teeth taken out, then you know how strong those meds are. In my heavily medicated state, getting that application in was my first priority. Right before the IV was put in my arm to administer the anesthesia, I asked for a post-it note and I made a list of what I had to do when I got home. When I woke up, the list was in my hand and I wanted to get right to it. I could barely walk, but I knew I had business to handle. My mom wouldn’t let me touch my laptop or that application until the meds started wearing off a little. She read over everything to make sure it was coherent, but I made sure I was the one that hit “submit”.
I don’t remember the exact timing, but days/weeks after submitting my application, I got an email telling me I had been granted an interview.
I'm gonna be completely honest. To prep for this interview, I had no idea what to do. I had a mock interview with two of my advisors, but outside of that, I was on my own. Of course I had interviews for different things before, but never anything of this magnitude. This is my dream we’re talking about here. I looked up questions online, prayed a lot, talked to some people for support and went on about my business. After all, I didn’t have much time to stress about the interview because the pageant I did was less than a week before the interview. Between that and classes, that’s where my nerves were. I found myself overthinking what I was going to wear and how I was going to do my makeup, just to stick with my original plan. That's usually what happens. Because the school in Greenville, I drove home the night before so that I wouldn't have to drive as far that morning and so I could get back to my foundation, my family. March/April was a really rough time for me, so I had to try my absolute hardest to get myself in a good headspace.
Alright, so boom. I woke up and it was finally interview day. I received a few encouraging text messages that morning, and I really appreciated it. I felt like I barely slept the night before, but thankfully my fatigue didn't really hit me until I was back in Orangeburg that evening. I prayed for about half of my drive over there, and I started to feel really at peace. I left my house way early to account for traffic or a slight issue with my car or trouble with directions. None of that happened, and when I pulled up I saw my name on the parking space. Talk about feeling official. I changed into my heels, checked my makeup one last time and walked in.
I immediately got the look. I told y'all already that Claflin is the only HBCU in the partnership, so the four of us from Claflin (2 ladies, 2 guys) were the only Black interviewees there. I was expecting this to a degree, but I was hoping there would be other Black faces there. I was the only person who did not walk in there wearing blue, black, or gray. At first I felt like I inadvertently set myself up to be a sore thumb, but I had to check myself before we got started. I'm not like everybody else, so there was no need for me to feel pressured to present myself a certain way. They chose to interview me because they wanted to get to know me, so that's what I was gonna give them. Brena Brink in true Brena Brink form -- serving a look, and a sophisticated one at that.
After everyone got there, we all went upstairs and met some people who worked in admissions, some current students, the Dean of the medical school, and some other important people. We had a few sessions before lunch, and after lunch we had the actual interview portion of the day. I won't go through what the interviews consisted of for two reasons: 1) I don't technically know if I can and 2) I'm pretty sure the information is on their website. I will say one thing though -- both of my interviewers were Black women. Yep. BOFFUM. I instantly felt relieved and they were so cool that it didn't feel like an interview at all. Once everybody finished, we all met back downstairs for a financial aid session and later split into groups for the tour of the school.
Overall, the day was a good day, but it was LONG. I thought it would be because of research I've done before, but it feels so different when you have to be "on" all the time. That was one of the few things that day that I couldn't have prepped for no matter how hard I tried.
So what's next?
If you're wondering if I got in, I'm not gonna hold you. I didn't. I felt confident about my interview and performance that day as a whole, but it wasn't enough. I'm not gonna lie. It caught me off guard for a second. It didn't crush me, and instead of dwelling on what I did wrong, I decided to look at the positives of the situation. I completed my first medical school interview. That in and of itself is a huge blessing because there are many who can't say that. More importantly, I did my best. I did my best not to compare myself with the person out of the 4 of us that did get in. Other people seemed a little shocked that that person got in and I didn’t, but at the end of the day, I just had to take the lickin' and keep on tickin'.
When I looked back and evaluated the day, there's not anything I could think of that I would've done differently, so I was at peace. I trust that God knows what He's doing. Just because they said denied me at that time doesn't mean they'll deny me again when I reapply. Instead of just taking my "no" and going about my business, I emailed and later had a phone call about what I needed to do to strengthen my application and improve my answers moving forward. I took notes on the email and phone call, and they will most definitely get implemented in future interviews and when I start my AMCAS application.
Let's wrap it up then.
That's really all I wanted to share. I hope I was able to help somebody by sharing my experience. I don't think I'll do this for every interview I have (and I've already been praying and speaking that there will be many), but I felt it was important for me to do this for the first one. If you have any other questions, feel free to get in contact with me. Everyone has their own journey with its own timing. Just remember this: The grind doesn't stop with one "no". All you need is one "yes". When you focus on running your own race, you'll win every time.
Much love & I'll see y'all later. Deuces.