July 19, 2019

Student Insights: Get to know your Orientation Leaders (OLs)

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Find out what the final group of Orientation Leaders has to say about the following:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. What made you want to become a doctor?
  3. What is your favorite Birmingham spot?
  4. What is something about being a medical student that more people don’t realize?
  5. What made you choose UAB?

Drusini.FlorenciaFlorencia Scaglia Drusini

  1. I am originally from Montevideo, Uruguay but have called New Iberia, Louisiana home for the last 12 years.
  2. Since I was a little girl, becoming a physician has always been my dream. I suppose that my dream has been molded by growing up with a grandmother who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease early in my childhood. I spent my life watching her deal with a disease that took a lot away from her physically, but that she fought to survive emotionally and intellectually. Her strength has been my guiding light throughout the application process and presently during the challenges of medical school. As a medical student, my grandmother’s story has inspired me to pursue research in Parkinson’s disease funded by a summer grant.
  3. My favorite Birmingham spot is Red Mountain Park. Since moving to Birmingham, I have always taken friends from Louisiana for hikes through the Park and have been joined by new friendships. Red Mountain Park has been shaped by memories and conversations made with loved ones.
  4. I think many people have this idea that medical students spend their days and nights locked away in a dark room in the library. In reality, medical school is a huge opportunity for growth. Through lecture, Introduction to Clinical Medicine, and conversations amongst friends I have become more self-aware of my community and my own convictions about the state of our healthcare system.
  5. UAB is world-renowned for its medical education and research, which are two very important pillars of one’s medical education. However, I chose UAB for the community and emphasis the school places on diversity. The medical field is able to progress because of the wide-range of personalities, opinions, and backgrounds that come together to serve our patient populations. UAB places the same importance on lifting up and encouraging diversity from the very first day. By doing so, students are shaped to seek out the opinions of others and become professionals who are able to cohesively work in a team setting.

rainey rachaelRachael Rainey

  1. Oneonta, Al
  2. For me, it was culmination of several things that set me on this path. From an early age, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but in high school, I took an anatomy course, which sparked an interest in the human body, especially when we were able to visit a cadaver lab. Through several mission trips with my church to help rebuild dilapidated homes, I knew I liked working with my hands and seeing a physical and emotional improvement in someone’s life. Discovering the medical field was a way that I could combine my love of science, the human body, and humanity. 
  3. I really like the Avondale area because it is a great spot that has a little bit of everything to do. In my opinion, you can find the best pizza in Birmingham at Post Office Pies, but it also has other eateries, a local brewery, coffee shop/concert venue and a park that shows movies during the summer.
  4. I think something people often infer about medical students is that all we do is study. However, I don’t think they realize that we are also able to let loose and have fun every once in a while. Our lives aren’t entirely consumed by medical school and we are able to make time for ourselves and personal priorities. It is a fine balance, but one that cannot be overlooked. You have to make time for yourself or realize that you aren’t being very productive studying and it’s time to take a break. You have to know yourself and your limits to best manage your time.
  5. I went to UAB for undergrad, so I already had a bias to be a Blazer, but I also really wanted to stay at UAB for several other reasons. First, UAB is a great medical school academically and I knew I could grow and excel here as a future physician. Second, I really loved the sense of community and support I felt here for students on their journey. There are tons of resources to support students academically and in their life in general and whatever obstacles they may face. I also really liked all the extracurricular activities offered for students to get involved in service, leadership, and opportunities to explore future career paths. Lastly, I knew that medical school was going to be stressful and I wanted to stay relatively close to my family for encouragement and support on this long journey.

Gaini RahulRahul Gaini

  1. Madison, AL
  2. I wanted to pursue a career that was not only interesting to me but also fulfilling. I found both of those traits in medicine!
  3. Blue Pacific
  4. We have lives outside of medical school! Many of my classmates are married and many have cool hobbies and interests.
  5. Esteemed program, supportive community that works together rather than against each other, culture that emphasizes health and life outside of medical school, family/friends nearby, and awesome city with great food.

breland cavanCavan Breland

  1. Hoover, AL
  2. I took a roundabout way to decide on becoming a doctor. I started out wanting to be an engineer. At Hoover High School, many people are pushed towards engineering due to a strong Engineering Academy program that allows high school students to learn college level content in order to be better prepared to decide on a career path. I loved these classes as they were very intense in math, but I soon realized that it was very repetitive, and I found myself dreading the idea of pursuing a career in something that I could possibly get tired of. Then, my junior year in high school, I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura which is essentially low blood platelets due to an unknown cause. At the same time, I was told that I could no longer play baseball, a game I had played my whole life, until my platelet counts normalized. After being diagnosed with ITP, I was exposed to medicine and experienced the everyday problem solving and teamwork that I enjoyed from school and baseball, respectively. I took a gamble and went to a small liberal arts school, Millsaps College, that allowed me to play baseball, but more importantly learn more about if becoming a physician was my purpose. Certain things happen in your life that can change your course, and I’m so happy that these experiences opened me up to medicine.
  3. I love hiking and anything outdoors. Oak Mountain State Park is great to hike or even play golf!
  4. People don’t stress enough that you can have a life outside of medicine! You have time to go to the gym and spend time with friends. It’s probably better for your grade because you’ll be in a better mental state after spending time doing what you love.
  5. I was ready to come back home after being more than 3 hours away at Millsaps College. It allowed me to live at home my first semester to save money.

Yoo AndrewAndrew Yoo

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. I didn’t discover that I wanted to become a doctor till later in life and it was a long and winding path. I worked in sales and marketing for 7 years, but through a variety of experiences with my life and my own health, I stumbled into considering medicine as a career. Now that I’m here, I am surer than ever that I’m on the right path!
  3. Big Spoon Creamery and Railroad Park
  4. Not everyone was a science major! People have had an incredible amount of diverse experiences and everyone brings something to the table that you may never have thought of before. Embrace them!
  5. UAB is a nationally recognized medical institution that provides a wealth of opportunities for medical students. With that said, it was easy to tell that UABSOM was a close-knit, supportive community that encouraged and supported students in all aspects of life. The school actively listens to feedback and is always trying to improve for the next generation of medical students.

Ashlyn Shields

  1. Hokes Bluff, Alabama
  2. I watched my mother battle cancer at a young age and idolized the doctors that made her feel more comfortable or put her mind at ease. I fell in love with the idea of helping other mothers get healthy and return home to their families. I have always enjoyed learning about science and anatomy. Medicine for me was a way to connect my interests in science with my passion for helping others.
  3. Saw’s Juke Joint. Best BBQ and banana pudding in Birmingham!
  4. People want to help! I was under the impression that there would be this competitive tension once medical school started and I would never be able to show weakness or ask for help. Medical school is full of opportunities to learn from each other and help each other become great doctors. I am so thankful for a class willing to share study materials, explain difficult concepts, or even just admit when they are felling stressed and overwhelmed! There is a sense of oneness in medical school where we feel like we are all in this together, which is so refreshing!
  5. Medical school at UAB has always been my end goal. Where I am from, all the serious medical cases had to go through Birmingham. When my friends were in a wreck, they were sent to UAB. When our family friend got cancer, she was sent to UAB. I knew UAB would give me the opportunity to learn from the best doctors and care team possible. This is a school that values research, preventative medicine, and diversity.

Sean Phinney

  1. Salt Lake City Utah
  2. I fell in love with practicing medicine during my 6 years as a Combat Corpsman, I gained a tremendous amount of leadership training and experiences, and I also developed a serious passion for learning. These three elements directed me to pursue a career among the leadership roles in medicine.   
  3. Probably the Birmingham Zoo because a family season pass is affordable and it is a great place to hang out with my wife and daughters.
  4. I think medical school is a lot harder when you have kids. 
  5. UABSOM treated me with the most respect. I felt the most welcome and comfortable while interacting with UABSOM staff throughout the application cycle. Their curriculum set-up and educational philosophies most closely matched my needs. In truth, UABSOM was a no-brainer for me. It’s where I belong.

brake kennonKennon Brake

  1. Montgomery, AL
  2. I wanted to care for and serve others but to also be challenged mentally, and I believe being a physician is the best way to do that!
  3. The Mountain Brook public library (free coffee + peaceful environment = perfect study spot!)
  4. If you balance everything well, your life doesn’t have to be miserable. :)
  5. UAB has been my dream medical school for as long as I can remember! I had no doubt it would prepare me well for whatever field of medicine I chose.

Katelyn Simpkins

  1. Wetumpka, AL
  2. I was not set on entering the medical field until I tore my ACL in high school. I stayed up the night before my surgery watching YouTube videos of knee surgery procedures and I was instantly interested in medicine. I started shadowing shortly after and the rest is history.
  3. Red Cat Coffee Shop
  4. Aside from the crazy amount of studying, it is actually fun! Our SGA plans incredible events throughout the year that are so fun to look forward to.
  5. At my interview, I felt very comfortable with the atmosphere and I started to imagine myself going to UABSOM…and here we are!

cheung matthewMatthew Cheung

  1. St. Louis, Missouri
  2. I worked in the lab of a physician-scientist who was an incredible mentor and had inspired me to follow a similar path. Patients love him and I got to witness dramatic improvements in patients who seemed so much worse months before. I thought it was incredible watching the difference a doctor can make in someone’s life and I want to be able to do the same thing in the future.
  3. Anywhere I can rock climb! (First Avenue Rocks, Birmingham Boulders or High Point)
  4. Sure, you’ll work really hard and have to study a lot, but you’ll actually have time to have a life and fun outside of school.
  5. First, when I interviewed here, it felt like a family and second, I’m interested in research and UAB has exceptionally strong research programs, especially in immunology (which I am interested in).

Reagan Hattaway

  1. Pickensville, AL.
  2. After my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, she placed an enormous emphasis on the health and wellness of our family. That made a huge impact on me and sparked my interest in science and the complexities of the human body. It also brought to my attention the lack of healthcare in my small town. I knew that as a physician, I would be able to practice my passion, learn from others, and make a difference. I can’t imagine a more rewarding profession.
  3. I love going to Pepper Place, which is the Saturday farmers market downtown. I would frequently go to the farmers market when I lived in Tuscaloosa, and I have loved continuing the tradition in Birmingham.
  4. I think people don’t realize how possible it is to have a life outside of medical school. It’s very demanding, but there is also time to do fun things and spend time with friends and family. So many people have spouses, children, pets, and other responsibilities that they balance while they are in school. Your grades won’t suffer from taking one night off to spend time doing things you enjoy. A nice study break should always be welcome!
  5. I have always wanted to attend UAB because it is a fantastic medical school, and Birmingham has so much to offer. I knew I would be exposed to a diverse population and would have the opportunity to learn from some of the best physicians in the Southeast. I also wanted to stay close to my family while in medical school. I was so sure about my choice, I applied early-decision!

Christy Collins

  1. Columbus, GA
  2. While I had always considered it, the more I interacted with health professionals as a teacher, the more I realized the good I could do for my community through becoming a physician.
  3. The Abbey coffee shop in Avondale – a great mix of community outreach and a nice quiet place to study with good coffee and food.
  4. You will be entrusted with information that patients wouldn’t tell their closest friends, even when you first meet them and before you have your MD degree.
  5. UAB’s commitment to diversity, community outreach through service, and student academic and personal support made it the ideal place not only to learn, but to be a part of a broader community.

Cummins IanIan Cummins

  1. Hartselle, Alabama
  2. It’s a career devoted to service and it’s a field that depends on working with people. Sports medicine was the first exposure I had that piqued my interest in medicine.
  3. Birmingham Barons games
  4. You have as much free time as you make – if you can be disciplined you can have time to do fun things while in school.
  5. I wanted to stay in Alabama; my fiancé is going to Samford so being in Birmingham was a priority.