March 05, 2020

Student Insights: Choosing UAB as an Out-of-State Student

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At the UAB School of Medicine, we are committed to creating an inclusive environment that values the diversity of experiences, backgrounds, and interests that our students bring to our school each year. To give you more of an insight, our co-contributors interviewed three first-year medical students about choosing UAB as an out-of-state student.

Cook.Anna sizedAnna Cook

Tell us about your hometown and what lead you to pursue medicine.
I am originally from a small town in rural Minnesota and grew up not knowing anything about the medical field. I knew I liked science, but I didn’t have the exposure to medicine that would later pique my interest.

I went to University of South Carolina for my undergraduate education. I intended to ultimately pursue my Ph.D. in Agricultural Biotechnology, but clearly, that didn’t work out! During my time at U of SC, I took classes with pre-medical students, many of whom are still my good friends. Through them, I got involved with volunteering activities and learned about their personal reasons for pursuing medicine.

The more I thought about my own interests and goals, the more medical research felt like the right field for me. I would be able to interact with patients on a regular basis, while at the same time generating new knowledge to implement in future treatments. I ultimately decided to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. and ended up here at UAB.

Why did you choose to attend UABSOM? 
During the interview process, UAB stuck out to me for its non-competitive and supportive environment. I felt like the students I met were people I could see myself hanging out with on a regular basis. Additionally, the research opportunities at UAB are fantastic, especially in relation to my interest in neurodegeneration.

At UAB, there are many quality research projects and mentors in every field. The research environment supports collaborations, so there are plenty of chances to grow within your field of interest. So far, I have had a great experience at UAB and continue to be happy with my decision to attend this school. The students and leadership are supportive and encouraging.

What has your experience at UABSOM and Birmingham been like? Any advice for future students coming from out-of-state?
As much fun as studying is, I am also enjoying exploring all that Birmingham has to offer! This is a surprisingly “foodie” city, and it seems that my list of restaurants to try grows longer every day. I also enjoy exploring different nearby suburbs such as downtown Homewood, Crestline, and Mountain Brook.

If I had to give an out-of-state student some advice about attending UAB, it would be to give the city and a school a chance. People sometimes have preconceived notions about what Alabama is like, but Birmingham is a pretty neat city, and UABSOM has every opportunity you could imagine. Additionally, I didn’t realize that almost the entire class would already know each other from their respective undergraduate institutions, so definitely don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. There are lots of new people to meet!

Overall, I feel like I am just getting started in seeing what Birmingham and UAB have to offer, and I am so thankful to have landed at a school that supports their students and creates a positive learning environment.

Murali.Sudarsan sizedSudarsan Murali

 First, tell us about your hometown.
I am from New Albany, a small town in Ohio, but I grew up in North Carolina,

Where did you complete your undergraduate degree? 
I completed my undergraduate degree in psychology and got my MBA at the University of Alabama.

Are you a traditional or non-traditional student? If you are a non-traditional student, would you tell us more what did you do before medical school?
Non-traditional. Before coming to medical school, I got my MBA and worked with several companies in the area. I am using my love for business and entrepreneurship by starting an interest group, AIM, here at UABSOM. I started the group with the goal of helping medical students learn about entrepreneurship in medicine and hopefully help them become better providers.

Why did you choose to attend UABSOM? 
I knew that mentorship was something that I deeply valued. I felt that the faculty at UABSOM was invested in teaching the next generation of physicians. After spending almost a year here, I can attest to this and wholeheartedly say that this has continued to be my experience. Physicians at UAB have, on more than one occasion, given up their valuable time to talk with me and help me navigate how they can better help me on my future career path.

What has your experience at UABSOM and Birmingham been like? 
UAB really focuses on helping students become great clinicians. Many of our classes take the time to help us understand the clinical picture behind what we are learning. This, combined with the aforementioned mentorship, really helps prepare you to become the best clinician you can be. On top of this, UAB is also deeply committed to research which helps our clinical education stay at the forefront of medicine.

What advice do you have for recently admitted students? 
First, congratulations! Really take some time to relax and spend time with the people and things that mean the most to you. Also reflect on why you chose to go into medicine. I think this will help you create a plan and ease any stress you might have before school starts. It is easy to become consumed by the quantity of information, but always remember why you are here!

Seidstein.Ali sizedAlexandra (Ali) Seidenstein

Tell us about your hometown.
I was born in White Plains, N.Y. but grew up in Verona, N.J. and went to the Montclair Kimberley Academy 2nd grade to high school. That area in NJ is a pretty standard suburban town about 35 min (no traffic) to NYC, so the denseness of the city sort of spills into NJ, which means there is an endless amount of things to do, and amazing food to eat. 

Where did you complete your undergraduate degree?
I went to George Washington University in DC, and then finished my degree at the University of Victoria. I studied neuroscience and environmental studies. My masters is in molecular biology and my Ph.D. work is in neural and behavioral studies from Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. 

Are you a traditional or non-traditional student? If you are a non-traditional student, would you tell us more what did you do before medical school?
I am a super non-traditional student! After undergrad, I lived in India for three years where I did a lot of yoga and volunteered at a variety of health-related organizations including a children's hospital and a non-profit that helped women rescued from sex-trafficking get back on their feet. After that I went to graduate school, and then I was offered a faculty position at NYU. I taught biomolecular science at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering for six years. I also served on the pre-med committee, and finally made the leap to go to medical school myself. 

Why did you choose to attend UABSOM?
Having been involved in academic programs through work there were some key things I was looking for in a medical school, such as program structure, city size, and reputation. I have family in Birmingham, and a lot of friends in medicine that were consistently reiterating what an incredible school UABSOM is.  It just felt right.  

How was the transition from NYC to Birmingham? What the thing you miss most about N.Y.? 
Having lived in NYC (mostly Brooklyn) for 10 years, I was expecting and preparing for a big change. I moved right before orientation, so medical school keeps me busy enough. It was pretty amazing to see the time I save in commuting here, in NYC everything takes forever.  At first, I felt out of place with the pace, accent, and the search for the perfect coffee. However, the size of my apartment, politeness of everyone, and ease of grocery shopping more than made up for it. I absolutely most miss hearing people speak all different languages, crazy outfits on the subway, and food delivery choices from hundreds of restaurants at any time of day.  

What has your experience at UABSOM and Birmingham been like? What is one of your favorite things about Birmingham? What has surprised you about Birmingham?
UABSOM has really surprised me in a great way. I think the faculty is extremely impressive, attentive, and patient.  Across the board, faculty and administrators seem so vested in student’s success, and it’s amazing to feel that support. Birmingham has been surprising also. I would say mostly the impressive food scene was not something I expected at all. I also think it’s odd that more people don't live downtown, but I love it.

What advice do you have for recently admitted students?
I would tell recently admitted students to get involved, and to study instead of worrying.