I remember sitting in my advisor’s office last fall, listening to him telling me that my GPA was too low to recover from in time to apply for medical school. I was stunned. I knew sophomore year had taken it’s toll – physics, organic chemistry, and biology for three straight 10-week terms had done their damage – but I thought I had come out relatively unscathed, considering I could have done a lot worse. Unfortunately admissions committees don’t see that some of these grades, these C’s, were the hardest Cs I had ever worked for in my life, and I’m damn proud of that. But all they see is a C, and worse, most likely a lower GPA because of that. I was hoping to have the chance to increase my GPA with extra classes over the year, but with my internship taking up half my junior year and applications beginning in June, I had to realize that this wasn’t a reality anymore.

So to prove that I am worth their time, and much more than those Cs that I know they can’t help but zoom in on, my advisor recommended a post-baccalaureate program.

A post-bac, he said, would show the upward trend of my GPA and my overall grades; it would show I’m learning from past mistakes and doing better the second time around. It’s a great concept, and I’m glad these programs exist. I really am grateful for the second chance. But, at the same time, I’m not apologizing for my sophomore year grades. They are what they are. If I could go back and do it again, I’m not sure how I’d handle it. And that’s the point. I was 18 years old and did the best I could, and still came out with my principles intact. I’ll always be proud of that.

As for my post-bac, I’m still researching. I know there’s only a select few in this area that offer what I’m looking for – namely, more science courses to enhance my science GPA. So I’ll probably end up at one of those; Temple’s is amazing – it’s a joint program with a conditional acceptance to their med school the following year.  With the other programs, I’d have to spend 1 year in the program, and 1 year – a “gap year” – doing something else while I apply to medical schools for acceptance for the following fall semester. Confused? I sure as hell was, too. Say I graduate in 2012 – my post-bac would take me from 2012-2013, and I’d apply for admission to the Fall of 2014 (essentially, the class of 2018…God, that’s terrifying. I’m going to stick with Fall 2014). In any case, I hope to make the most of my second chance. It scares me half to death…the idea that I could “fail” again, a second time around, is really terrifying and makes me want to just hide under the covers. But I know I have to keep going, I have to keep pushing. I’ve never been one to quit anything, and I refuse to start now.

They can try to push me away; I’ll just push back. My favorite quote ever, that I always turn to when I feel like a complete failure, is one from Denzel Washington, of all people. He gave the commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania this year, and it was a beautiful one. Out of his fantastic speech came reality and encouragement. Failure happens, he said. It’s a fact of life. But how you keep going is what defines you.

“Do you have the guts to fail? If you don’t fail, you’re not even trying.” -Denzel Washington