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Sumaira Hai: Taking the Unconventional Route

March 9, 2016

Sumaira Hai is a journalism junior in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. She also is an Osteopathic Medical Scholar in the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Unlike most students applying to college, I didn’t have a specific vision of what college to attend. However, I certainly didn’t envision going somewhere 700 miles from my hometown.

It all happened so fast. One second I was sitting in my kitchen searching for seven- or eight-year medical programs on Google, two days later I had applied to the Osteopathic Medical Scholars Program here at Michigan State, and not too soon after, I was informed of my acceptance.

It’s strange to think how close it all was to not happening. I can even recall the moment when I asked my dad if I should call Michigan State to let them know that even if I did get into the program I wouldn’t go due to the long distance. He said to just wait and see what would happen. I now know that that was one of the greatest pieces of advice he ever gave me because these last three years in the program and at Michigan State have been the most invaluable.

As a scholar in the program, I am given innumerable opportunities to prepare myself for medical school. With the guidance of our director, Rosemarie Handley and various medical students and faculty from the Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine, I have learned various study techniques for specific pre-med classes as well as classes in medical school, the importance of mental health in medical school and have even taken several visits to the anatomy lab.

I have learned a great deal about up-and-coming things like the allopathic/osteopathic residency merger and about the various areas of research that MSUCOM faculty members are exploring. I have even been able to assist on international health projects with MSUCOM students in areas of interest like pediatrics and women’s health.

Most accelerated medical programs require their students to major in biology or chemistry and don’t allow them much freedom or even time to explore other hobbies. I, however, longed for an actual college experience and that was one of the biggest factors that drove me to choose OMSP and MSU. Being a part of the program has not stopped me from taking advantage of classes like jazz and literature and introduction to media. I even work as a peer educator for the sexual assault and relationship violence program on campus to help prevent the occurrence of either amongst the student population; an area that isn’t related to medicine at all.

Although I have had a strong interest in medicine since the age of 12, I also knew that it wasn’t the only thing I wanted to pursue. To me, medical journalism is an important bridge between the ever-changing medical world and the general public and it has always been of interest to me. Coming to college, I had never considered the idea of majoring in journalism because it wasn’t the conventional route for a student interested in medicine.

One day it clicked that that was exactly why I chose this program, because I didn’t want to be the conventional student. I officially changed my major to journalism with a specialization in science and have found nothing but support since. My advisors from both the School of Journalism and OMSP have helped me from internship opportunities to research. One of my advisers even organized a meeting with Susan Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of National Geographic Magazine, so I could gain more guidance for my dual career as a physician and medical journalist.

I am three years into my college career and can firmly say that MSU has made the long distance worth it. Through being a student in OMSP and MSU, I have been able to choose a much more non-traditional route than my peers and I believe this has let me become a more well rounded student and individual. I have not only been able to hone my dreams of being a physician, but also, discover new passions like breaking down the physician-patient communication barrier through the communication methods I have learned as a journalism major.

I cannot offer enough praise for the program and am excited to see what other opportunities come my way during my remaining time here. I am incredibly happy that my time at Michigan State has been so fulfilling, as a future physician, journalist and an overall student.