*Originally posted on April 3, 2009
With peak application to linkage programs in full swing, I decided to tell the story of a woman I worked with at a local breast clinic.
This woman was Caribbean as in from Trinidad, a mixture of Indian (as in from India), Syrian, Caucasian, and Black. Now her “black blood” wasn’t nearly as obviously unless you saw her from behind. And I mean rap video style if you’re wondering what I mean, and with a close friend from India, I know that Indian women can be shaped very similar to Black women, but this chic had a little something extra that screamed the continent of Africa, LOL!!
This young lady was very attractive, in great shape, and academically highly accomplished, as in 3.9+ GPA in both her Biology undergraduate degree and her MPH from a highly ranked program. But she took the MCAT ONE TIME and scored a 20T. The Black woman who trained her for the job she currently had, was a former student in this post-bacc program and was now in medical school. Unfortunately, she had just flunked STEP I when I met her, the only student from her postbacc class to have done so that year. So my colleague decided that since she was part Black though public ally claiming NONE of it and NOT disadvantaged ever in her life, she would apply to this post bacc program. Needless to say, she was rejected and was actually called out by one of her interviewers for trying to take advantaged of the program knowing she didn’t fit what they were looking for.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand to see people do, it’s people who claim whatever “heritage”, usually Native American or Black, strictly for the purposes of helping their application to professional school. Outside of that, they’ll either give you this, “I’m a member of the human race so I don’t claim a particular race” bull$hit excuse for not otherwise mentioning who they really are or they give you that “I don’t choose a race because I don’t want to isolate myself from the heritage of one of my parents” bull$hit excuse. Either way, I think it’s crass beyond belief to play your heritage only when it’s convenient for you.
Getting back to the title of this post, my now former colleague was of what I call the triflin elk, meaning that whatever “easy” way she could get into medical school, she was going to try it. I mean who do we know would take the MCAT one time, score a 20T, and call it a wrap? Most people take that dam test at least twice. And when these folks get rejected from these programs, I don’t know why they can’t understand that the folks they’re interviewing with have been in the game a while and seen it all. So why even try it?
Now this may bring into question my own applications to postbacc programs, some of which are for disadvantaged students and/or minority students. The bottom line is that no matter how much success I have now in my life, it doesn’t change the fact that I grew up in the ‘hood, and THAT more than anything that shaped my initial poor performance in college (my high school was in the ‘hood, simply average and offered NO AP courses for example). Not only that, that 2.000000 I finished with as an undergraduate follows me EVERYWHERE my application goes. So am I saying that every kid form the ‘hood should be expected to do poorly in college? Of course not, but different people handle different situations differently. Most of the people I went to high school with NEVER went to college, and very few of us could afford it (and for the record I was not one of the ones who could). But my disadvantaged background also shaped my volunteer activities throughout my adult life from the time I was 18 years old in womens’ clinics in rural areas to AIDS counselor in large cities. In other words, I don’t carry my “disadvantaged background” status around like a dirty diaper, it doesn’t define me but it has contributed to the person I’ve become and the Physician I will become. And THAT, I’ve been told, is what these programs are looking for.