Spotlight: Elinam Agbo

The SNMA-MAPS board members are a great resource here at UChicago. The spotlight blog posts are an opportunity for you guys to get to know the board better and receive great advice. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for more information!

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Elinam Agbo

Co-Community Service Chair

Class of 2017

(1) What career were you interested in before you came to UChicago?

Medicine. I wanted to be a physician, the specific field, I didn’t know. I still don’t know, but since coming to UChicago and attending physician panels and getting to know medical students, I have felt more affirmed in my decision to pursue the career.

(2) How has your perspective on that career changed in your time here?

It feels more real, less like a dream. But with this sense of reality comes the realization of the difficulty of the path. Before, I knew the road to medical school was hard, but now I have a better glimpse of how hard it can be.

(3) What do you think students should focus on in their first year and first summer?

Getting direction. While first year is about making mistakes and learning from them (it was for me), I think it’s also a good time to start learning and utilizing the resources available to help you. It is also important to find a good balance between academics and life – this is one of the biggest challenges I think first years tend to have. Regardless of whether a student is going home or acquires an internship during their first summer, he or she needs to focus on having some kind of enriching experience. This may include volunteering or research experiences.

(4) What do you think are the most valuable resources available here that student need to take advantage of?

Other students, professors, and advisors. The first are most accessible since they are your peers. Other premeds have been some of my most valuable resources here, whether it be for help with difficult concepts, studying, or taking a short break together on weekends. Even so, I think first year is as good a time as any to start establishing relationships with your professors and advisors, whose recommendations and advice are vital in our college careers and beyond.

(5) What are the biggest mistakes pre-med students tend to make and how can they avoid them?

  1. Trying to do too little or too much. Doing too much can make it easier to lose interest in the path because as academics alone stand, life is not terribly easy. And the danger in doing too little . . . well, I think it depends on who you are. It is first year after all, and one of the most important things is to start learning about your strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Not doing enough research about what you’re getting into. One of the most common questions at UChicago is “Are you still pre-med?” It’s asked with the assumption that a lot of pre-meds change their minds at some point in college. While this is not necessarily bad (as it’s important to find what you’re passionate about), I think learning a little bit about other pre-med’s experiences and about your own interests and passions before your first year may add to one’s dedication. You only have four years in college, and it’s best to spend that time pursuing things you’re passionate about. Of course, this decision is nevertheless difficult and something a lot of students struggle with.
  3. Feeling intimidated by the idea of approaching professors. It’s all about being perceptive and taking advantage of office hours. Also, don’t limit yourself to science professors.
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