"The COVID pandemic has impacted my life and the life of those around me in several ways over the course of the last few years. One thing the COVID pandemic has done for me is increase my awareness of mental health. Throughout the process of starting college and completing my first semester of undergrad, I have noticed that I am experiencing worsening anxiety in areas of my life that I did not previously have. For example, studying after a very long day has become very anxiety-provoking for me, and while I love to study as a pre-med student, it has not been a source of comfort for me this last semester. With the ongoing pandemic, it has been very hard to get involved in social gatherings like people normally do in college. As a very outgoing person this has been a source of struggle for me adapting to a new place. As a future applicant to medical school, this is also usually the time where I would be getting more volunteer opportunities at local hospitals or shadowing more doctors within the hospital. With COVID, it has been really hard to obtain these opportunities because most of the hospitals are still limiting outside visitors. While experiencing some of these struggles I have had since starting college, I have learned some new coping strategies to help my mental health stay at its best state. For example, I found a passion for yoga, self-care routines, working out, coming home on the weekends to see my golden retriever Skyla, reading books, baking, and more. Because of these coping strategies, I feel I have been able to maintain an overall positive attitude and still be successful in my strenuous courses and life as a college student. However, my experience has given me an insight to the impact that mental health can have on your day-to-day life, and through my experience with anxiety, I feel that I can better help others in the future when they are faced with similar battles.
In addition to becoming a bigger mental health advocate, I have discovered a new passion of mine for traveling. I think that this was born during the last two years of seclusion and quarantining during the pandemic. I would like to go on missions trips or provide simple health care to people in South America or Africa within the next few years. I would also like to leisurely travel and gain a greater perspective on the beauty of God’s creation in nature. Some of the areas I would like to travel to include Greece, Oregon, Georgia, St. Lucia, and Italy. In the future, I would like to consider taking a traveling physician role, or even just using my vacation time to rejuvenate in these very beautiful places.
To end, while the pandemic has changed many things in my life including some of the traits I hold dearest to me, I still know that I want to pursue medicine. If anything, my approach to caring for a whole person, including physical, mental, and emotional health, is even more pronounced than it was. While I haven’t had any patient contact due to the lack of volunteer opportunities and shadowing time, I am looking forward to when I am able to interact with patients and bring my own insights to their care. I still plan to attend medical school, hopefully in the year 2024, and plan to pursue pediatrics at this time. I have started to consider the possibility of pursuing a specialty in cardiology or ophthalmology, however, I still have a large passion for pediatric oncology as well. I have plenty of time to make this decision, but it is always very exciting to think about. I sincerely want to thank the Jeremy Cares Scholarship Committee for financially supporting me through my first year of college."