By Averyona Gainey, ’19
My path to becoming a physician has been somewhat unconventional. Although I knew from a very young age what career path I wanted to follow, life quickly took me down a road with several detours. Beginning my freshman year at the College of Charleston, I felt as though I was set on the right track for medical school. I was a part of the 2015 SPECTRA Class which gave me a very accurate depiction of what college level classes were like. In taking these courses, I learned helpful study techniques, time management skills as well as becoming familiar with CofC’s campus. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I began to question whether or not medicine was right for me. I struggled with basic chemistry courses, let alone Organic Chemistry. When you’re surrounded by peers who seem to have it all together, you begin to second guess yourself. In my case, I stopped asking questions for the fear that I’d be viewed as less intelligent. After taking the class and failing, I decided to give it another try but this time, I surrounded myself with friends who were like-minded which made me feel not so alone. By the end of the semester, I had accomplished the class with a B+. I felt as though I really had a shot at this road to medical school.
After defeating this hurdle, I was presented with my next detour; the MCAT. The dreaded 7.5 hour long entrance to medical school exam was all that I feared and then some. After receiving my score (one that I knew wasn’t competitive enough for the schools I wished to attend), I began to have what I call a quarter-life crisis. This is when the negative thoughts began to take control and the little self-confidence that I had was shattered. This test is what I was told would be the key to becoming accepted into medical school. It was during this time that I seriously contemplated my abilities and determination. It took the encouragement and wise words from fellow peers and employees for me to start seeing my situation in a different light. I began highlighting all of the positives that came from my situation such as having a job that allowed me to explore and more deeply understand people from various backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures, having a bachelor’s degree in biology, and most importantly, having personal experiences that would later become my reason for wanting to become a physician at all.
It has been 1 year and 4 months since I graduated from the College of Charleston. During this time, I have started a new job that allows me to work directly with minority patients from various backgrounds. I get to work alongside a physician who not only teaches me on a daily basis but also encourages me to continue striving for my end goal of becoming a physician. I was always told that it was better to attend medical school right after completing my undergraduate degree but for myself, I have found these two gap years to be extremely helpful in allowing me to discover my goals and make a plan that is tailored to my lifestyle. As of now, I plan to attend a Master’s program where I can freshen up on my core sciences while also studying and preparing to retake the MCAT.
If I had one piece of advice to give to students who are struggling with finding their niche or purpose, it would be this: not once during your journey should you question your intelligence. You have made it into the College of Charleston! That alone is a huge accomplishment. Stay focused on your end goal, whatever that may be, and surround yourself people who push you to be a better you! Not only are you here for a reason, you BELONG here. I am rooting for you. I hope you choose to take the path less traveled by. Who knows what opportunities it will bring you.
Averyona is a 2019 graduate of CofC. She currently works as a medical scribe in Charleston.