At a time in everyone’s life, we come to find ourselves in a situation where the music stops, and we must go on.  The unfortunate truth about life is that the unexpected will happen. Some of us learn from it, some of us change because of it and some of us find our life’s calling because of it. The latter was the case for me.  After our dad picked us up from middle school, we spent that afternoon like we had every afternoon that month. We went to the oncology unit at the hospital, where my brother was admitted.



I remember him. I remember the man in the dark blue sarong the same way I remember the lines on back of my own hand. He was hunched over next to a column on a dirty platform at a railway station in Calcutta, India in the middle of the harsh summer sun. His hands were withered, his fingers and toes looked like tiny nubs, and he was completely malnourished and alone. He had opaque blue eyes, as if fog had taken place of his irises and pupils.



I studied insects in college; my favorite insects were the bees (I found them diligent and so helpful to humankind).  One of my favorite classes was about medical diseases caused by insects. My professors noticed my interest in the medical side of things and connected me with a professor who did clinical research. Our work focused on a clinical trial for children with intractable epilepsy and exposed me early on to patient care and patients.


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after my parents, he was the first person I shared the good news with.

Even after I started medical school, Doctor X happily met with me when I felt overwhelmed; the stress of performing at your best at all times can almost be counter-productive. He helped me once again, because sometimes, when you want something so badly (doing well in medical school in my case) you lose your objectivity.

I consider myself very fortunate to have found a mentor that not only guided me through my academic career but also taught me things that I could not learn in any classroom. Working with Doctor X was a life-changing experience for me; he truly molded me into the individual I am today and the physician I aspire to be tomorrow.  I grew from being a driven but immature student to a more confident future physician.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to become a doctor. However, I did not realize all the challenges I would have to face in order to make my dreams come true, and I also did not know who I was going to meet along the way to help me become a successful medical student.

When I was reapplying to medical school, I was told gaining more clinical experience could strengthen my application. I reached out to as many physicians as I could in order to shadow them. Through this process, I started shadowing a very seasoned physician with 40 years of experience, who also became almost a life-coach during one of the toughest periods of my life. I expected him to let me shadow him for a few weeks at the most and then send me on my way to hopefully figure things out. To my surprise, he let me stay for much longer, and I shadowed him at the clinic for over a year. During this time, my mentor helped me tremendously through the entire medical school application process. I will call him Doctor X..

When I politely asked him to look over my personal statement for medical school admission, he agreed and I emailed it to him. It took Doctor X a couple of days to respond, and I was beginning to think maybe it was so terrible that he just wouldn’t respond. He responded and the entire statement was covered in red marks; I was ecstatic. English not being my first language was a bigger disadvantage than I ever anticipated, and I didn't understand this until Doctor X pointed it out. I rewrote the entire statement, and he proof-read it several times. I received many compliments regarding how well written


my statement was, and each time I couldn’t help but thank the person who helped me write it.

Often in life, especially as a student, it is difficult to know what are the “right things” to say. Finding an understanding and experienced mentor can help tremendously. After submitting the applications, it was time to start interviewing at medical schools. I was very eager to share with other people my enthusiasm for medicine. I had done mock interviews with the staff at the career development center during my undergrad, and they gave me helpful feedback. However, Doctor X took the time to set up other practice interviews for me. He helped me channel my energy and enthusiasm for medicine in a more assertive and concise way.

A mentor can provide a much needed second person view of yourself to help you better understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Doctor X showed me how I could turn many of my flaws into strengths and my failures into motivators. He helped me see what I had to offer to medicine. Before working with him, I only considered what a career in medicine could offer me and how I could help others in need. After this experience I began to understand what I could offer to medicine and how my patients can impact me. When I was accepted into medical school,


Shweta Kamat is a 2nd year student at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Shweta completed a graduate degree in Anatomy and Neurobiology prior to medical school and this summer started a medical research project at UK COM in Neurosurgery.