July 22, 2015
Robert Ray is a first-year student in the College of Osteopathic Medicine.
My Spartan journey began a little differently than most. You see, despite the fact that I grew up in Lansing and was surrounded by green and white, the Red Cedar, and “ra team, fight”, I somehow managed to become a fan of “the other school.”
I grew up wearing blue and gold while screaming, “hail to the victors.” My entire life I had been set on going to the University of Michigan and for roughly a decade that plan was set in stone. Luckily for me Spartans from the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine rescued me and in one summer my life was completely redirected.
It was a sunny June day and I was on my way to the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing’s annual golf outing and fundraiser. I grew up in the Boys and Girls Club and I was honored to be speaking at the fundraiser and telling everyone how much the Boys and Girls Club meant to me personally and how they had always been there for me through thick and thin.
In my speech I discussed some of the challenges I had overcome and some that I was still rising above and how the Boys and Girls Club supported me on a daily basis, not only in my everyday life but also in my dreams and aspirations of becoming a physician.
Little did I know the room not only had several physicians in it, but in fact a MSUCOM alumnus organized the golf outing. After my speech several people congratulated me and shook my hand but there were two people in particular I remember meeting that day, Kim Camp and Dr. John Sauchak.
Kim was an employee of the college who closely worked with an outreach program called OsteoCHAMPS and Dr. Sauchak was the alumnus who ran the golf outing and also served as a clinical faculty member for MSUCOM. After hearing my speech and meeting me in person, Kim and Dr. Sauchak both strongly insisted that I attend the OsteoCHAMPS program that summer. Despite the fact that the program was only a few weeks away the two of them worked very hard to make sure I had a spot in the program and assured me that I would be taken care of.
OsteoCHAMPS exposed me to so many great things that I otherwise might not have had the opportunity to experience. At OsteoCHAMPS I learned the difference between a medical doctor and a doctor of osteopathic medicine, what OMM was, how to organize and present research, and even how to network. OsteoCHAMPS also exposed me to a lot of information I might not have received regarding the college experience due to the fact that I am a first-generation college student.
I was fairly ignorant to the application process, and college in general, and since no one in my family had attended college themselves there were not too many people who I could go to for help in these matters. OsteoCHAMPS provided presentations from admissions and specific colleges like Lyman Briggs who gave me all of the information and resources I had been craving regarding the college experience. OsteoCHAMPS is the single reason why I became a Spartan and why I am now currently attending MSUCOM.
Even more important than the things I learned at OsteoCHAMPS were the people I met. The first person I met was Dr. Margaret Aguwa. Dr. Aguwa is an amazing and inspirational woman who told the story of growing up in Nigeria and her journey to becoming a physician and eventually working for MSUCOM and founding the OsteoCHAMPS program. Dr. Aguwa and I quickly formed a special bond. She has become a very active and necessary part of not only my success in the academic world but also in my growing as a young man.
Aside from Dr. Aguwa I also met some fantastic students who shared a common interest in health care and science. In fact, some of the people I met at OsteoCHAMPS are some of my best friends even today! My roommate from OsteoCHAMPS was my roommate for three years in undergrad and just this past summer I started medical school with one of my best friends I made during OsteoCHAMPS. Being around students who had the same goals and passions that I did gave me the support and inspiration I needed to start and continue on the path of becoming a physician.
I still think back to the day I came under the wing of MSUCOM and sometimes I wonder where would I be if they hadn’t comforted me under their wings? Would I have achieved all that I have today?
It’s scary to think about where I might have ended up if not for MSU. At the same time it is wonderful to think about how far I have come and even more how much further I will go. I may not have been born a Spartan, I may have been cheering for the wrong team for a few years, but all that matters now is thanks to the special Spartans at MSUCOM I bleed green and white!
Photo by Ann Cook, College of Osteopathic Medicine