20 Dec

The year 2022 has been, perhaps, my most productive year thus far, and I hope to continue this relentless pursuit of my career aspirations into the following year. Though, here, I will be reflecting briefly on what I have accomplished, where I am currently, and the new directions this will lead me into the new year.

To begin, I must say I have been truly grateful for the opportunities presented to me and the moments shared with friends, family, instructors, peers, and mentors. Altogether, I have learned a tremendous amount about the career of a physician and a researcher and I have gained extraordinary insight and knowledge into the field of biomedical science.

Moment by moment, little by little I have built a professional foundation for my career development by having attained research experience, gained new insights, met new people, and by even beginning unique personal endeavors that can advance my career.

Moreover, at the beginning of the year, I wrote one of my first blogposts detailing My New Year’s Aspirations for 2022, which includes both personal and academic resolutions. My goals for 2022 entailed:

  • Earn a preprofessional internship experience

  • Enroll in online courses encompassing biomedicine and science

  • Design and experiment on a research project

  • Apply for research grants and academic scholarships

  • Wake up earlier (I originally said 4:45am!)

  • Exercise and workout more 

  • Become smarter financially and learn to invest/save

  • End procrastination or learn to procrastinate strategically

  • Continue building your personal website

I believe I have accomplished just about everything I wanted to in 2022 and much more. 

Reflecting on the past year, I earned my first biomedical research experience with Aspirnaut, enrolled in and completed several online courses, designed a study on the development of transparent wood, attempted several grant and scholarship applications, woke up earlier (@5:45am, not 4:45am), incorporated exercise into my schedule, learned to save and invest, became a strategic procrastinator, and, of course, continued building this website.

Now, I will elaborate further on some achievements and resolutions (especially those that don’t have blogposts).

When writing my goals for the year, I had wanted to enroll in online courses such as CRISPR Classroom, which I did, and I earned two certificates showcasing my exemplary performance and knowledge in the field of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology. 

I have earned a certificate for CRISPR Foundations, an introductory course to CRISPR gene editing technologies, and for Gene Knockout: gRNA Design to Analysis.

Furthermore, I have also completed courses in Advanced Literature Searching in the Health Sciences, Introduction to Statistical Methods of Gene Mapping, and Nature’s Focus on Peer Review course. Through each, I have learned a lot about the biomedical scientist profession and these courses, especially the former, have made writing college research papers easy.

All certificates and awards can be viewed on my LinkedIn Profile.

Also for my achievements of the year, I did apply to various scholarship and grant opportunities, though I haven’t earned any yet. Surely, some scholarship attempts were unsuccessful, meanwhile others are still pending  review and approval after recently applying. 

In fact, I am currently writing for a research essay scholarship for GyaLabs on the effects of aromatherapy massage on breast cancer patients. I will keep you posted on the result whether I hear back or not. The scholarship search engine I use is Scholarship Owl, which is a great tool for looking up personalized applications according to education, major, and professional pursuits.

Then, of course, I have also wrote two grant applications, both for the backing of my research project on the sustainable development of transparent wood. One grant-like application was written through experiment.com and another was submitted to the Kentucky Academy of Sciences Supply Grant. I will know in January and February whether I am successful or not and will certainly include another blogpost.

Now, I did begin to wake up much earlier than I did in my first college semester, mainly due to my earliest class being at 9:20am. For all subsequent semesters, though, I wanted to take 8:00am courses both to fill the block with a learning opportunity and to ensure that I wake up much earlier. Though, of course, I would start wake up 2.5 hours in advance at 5:30am. 

The motive for such an earlier wake-up time is simply to get a head start to the day and to ready myself for coursework and lectures. Furthermore, it has been stated that most of the world’s successful individuals rise earlier for more of one highly-valued commodity—time.

In addition to the new successful habits I hoped to conform with, I began to exercise more in the spring and summer months as well as work-out throughout the year. While I am not a body-builder nor student athlete as I was in high school, I work-out primarily for the health benefit.

Further, I had also learned to invest; in fact, having recently bought The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, I learned about the stock market, trading, and developing a high value portfolio. I am still continuing to learn here and there to develop financial literacy for myself.

Then, there is my personal website, which is nearly one year old as of this post. The Aspirant MD/PhD has essentially been a logging of my personal journey throughout my pursuit of a medical career, and, while I may not be a highly esteemed individual to guide and mentor other aspirant students yet, in time, that’s what I hope for this blog to be. 

I want The Aspirant MD/PhD to be trail guide for anyone pursuing medicine, science, or both. It will be my journey, and, someday, it will be an example journey for the future student’s of medicine and science. While it is not evident to me now as a sophomore in college, I believe someday I can be an inspiration for others through my personal website.

Additionally, through 2022, I have read numerous books detailing the latest advancements in gene engineering technology, medicine, and science. Some selections I’ve read include Hacking Darwin by Jamie Metzl, Editing Humanity by Kevin Davies, My Inventions: Autobiography of Nikola Tesla, and Writing Science by Joshua Schimel, as well as various others (though the latter is more of a handy reference book).

My favorite book from the year, moreover, was a biography of an astute microbiologist and vaccinologist, Dr. Maurice Ralph Hilleman, who had developed over 40 vaccines, including measles, mumps, meningitis, pneumonia, hepatitis A, and a novel Hepatitis B vaccine (also injecting himself with the virus to prove its efficacy!). I had learned that, due to Dr. Hilleman’s career of unmatched productivity in vaccine development, an estimated 8 million lives are saved every year!

The book titled Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases by Dr Paul Offit offered me great insight into the life and career of one of the most influential scientist in the twentieth century. In fact, Dr. Hilleman is perhaps the greatest inspirational figure whose impact has motivated and encouraged me to try and pursue a career just as prominent for the advancement and protection of human health.

Meanwhile, continuing on my 2022 reflection, I had also began attending online clinical shadowing through HEAL’s eShadowing platform, which invites medical students and practicing physicians to lecture and openly discuss the career of a physician. Some topics include specialty-related health discussions, patient cases of disease, medical and clinical ethics, and additional seminars and symposiums for a small cost. 

I have attended HEAL’s free Online Clinical Shadowing Network for three months, from which I have earned certificates for an approved 5hrs of clinical shadowing experience (5hrs/month). The way in which these hours are earned are through weekly attendance and quizzes, which must be passed to earn a certificate.

My piece of advice for online clinical shadowing, however, while I believe it is a great resource (I have certainly learned a significant amount), it is not advisable that eShadowing is the only mode of clinical experience attained. 

I strongly advise that in-person shadowing or clinical experience is also pursued, because this is what medical admissions committees would want in an applicant. I reiterate this because I have received the same advice, and so I am passing it on. 

Lastly, one of the other pursuits I devoted time to during the previous year was an online eMagazine publishing site that provides student scientists and future researchers with a platform to share their works, innovations, and ideas. Although The Young Investigator has been developed, graphically designed, encrypted, HTML coded, and prepared for publishing services, the site is set to launch nearing the end of January.

I am hopeful that my new publishing site will serve and inspire a new generation of high school and undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM. Currently, The Young Investigator is in primitive form and has been developed by one founder/creator, myself.

Altogether, I believe I had lived through a successful and productive year. My experiences have given me great insights, new opportunities, and developed a small career foundation for professional life. There is a lot of new journeys and undertakings which I will continue to pursue with the same momentum into the following year 2023. I am genuinely excited to see what is to come!

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