My Path: Kayla Williams
We always encourage students to keep in touch after the tour. The mentoring process has just begun and requires more than the day’s worth of lectures and presentations to develop a long lasting relationship. Many of our mentors continue to not only maintain contact with tour participants, they continue to impart advice to students on their respective roads to success. In our next edition of My Path, we highlight the recent Hampton University graduate Kayla Williams as she transitions into Student Doctor Williams at Howard University College of Medicine this fall.
Location: Woodbridge, Virginia
High School: Potomac Senior High School ‘08
Undergraduate: Hampton University ‘12
Medical School: Howard University College of Medicine ‘17
When did you decide that you wanted to go to medical school?
I don’t remember a defining moment when I decided I wanted to go to medical school, but in high school I volunteered with the athletic trainer to get hands-on clinical type experience. That was influential in me committing to the idea and the beginning of me actively working toward my goal.
How did your family/significant other react to your decision?
My family was very supportive of the decision, and has been my biggest support through the whole process.
Did you do any enrichment programs or shadowing during college?
Yes, the summer after my sophomore year, I participated in Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at the University of Virginia. The summer after my junior year, I participated in the Travelers Summer Research Fellowship Program at Weill Cornell Medical College. Both really helped me focus in on why I wanted to pursue these goals and what I needed to do to prepare myself for successfully executing my plan. I also did a bit of shadowing with mentors during my Christmas and summer breaks just so that I could see for myself what type of work doctors in different fields of medicine actually do. I highly recommend taking advantage of these type of experiences.
Did you use any MCAT preparation?
Initially, I created an independent study plan primarily using ExamKrackers materials and studied really hard, but that didn’t get me results I was pleased with. Once I realized I was studying hard – but not smart, I enrolled in the Kaplan course and their emphasis on learning the test itself in addition to understanding the material was a combination that worked best for me.
How did you choose which medical schools to apply to?
I come from a close knit family, so the majority of the schools I applied to were within a 4 hour driving radius of home. I also applied to school based on my perception of the opportunities available to branch out and network with other institutions and programs.
How many letters of recommendation did you ask for/use?
I asked for a total of four recommendations that covered different facets of me: one pre-health committee letter, one from my mentor I did research under, one from SMDEP, and one from my advisor from an on campus health-related organization I was a part of.
What’s the best advice you can give to people applying to medical school?
Never underestimate the power of networking. There is always a ton to learn from others and you just never know what type of experience or opportunity others are willing to share with you. Also, keeping contact with people who are in different stages of their careers keeps you motivated and inspired to continue to push forward.
Describe the feeling when you found out you got accepted into medical school?
Getting that news was a feeling I will never forget! My sister actually told me on my drive home from work, and I just had a huge smile on my face the whole way home. It’s hard to explain, but it was an overwhelming sense of sheer joy mixed with excitement and nervousness and I felt really humbled that I was really getting the opportunity to truly live my dream. I just felt very thankful.
How did you hear about the Tour For Diversity?
My pre-health advisor told me about the Tour For Diversity and informed me that I didn’t have a choice but to register and to get my friends to too. (He knows me well and that is usually how our interactions went.)
What was your most memorable moment from the day?
My most memorable moment was walking up to one of the student panelists, Shawnita Briggs during a break and telling her about myself, my application process, and what schools I had applied to. She asked me, “Why do you want to go to Howard?” so I told her, and next thing I know we were on our way to find another student panelist, Love Anani, who at the time was a fourth year medical student at Howard. I also told him and we talked a bit more, then he jotted down his information and told me to be in contact. Long story short, I ended up visiting the school in March- he showed me around and I met many other students and some of the staff, and a week later, I was granted an interview. I was not accepted that cycle, but the next cycle received an interview very early on and found out I was accepted on Valentines Day. A year after attending the Tour For Diversity and meeting Love and Shawnita, I am entering the class of 2017. I guess you could say the Tour For Diversity is the reason I am going to med school!