I first heard about the Fellowship through a 2012 Fellow who attended Harvard Medical School. At the time, I was applying to medical schools and found myself completely overwhelmed by the process of applying for admission and for financial aid. “One of them will have to give,” I used to think. The Fellow shared his journey with me and offered advice on both of those fronts. A couple of years later, I was accepted to Harvard Medical School and awarded the PD Soros Fellowship. I owe much of my success to the support that I received from that Fellow— and from many others—and have come to realize that that type of support is what this Fellowship is all about.
The Fellowship has been much more than what I expected. I expected to receive generous financial assistance and to meet accomplished people. What I didn’t expect was to find in these “accomplished people” an endless source of inspiration. At the end of each Fall Conference, I found myself rejuvenated and inspired to change the world. Not in a fantastical way, but in a very real way. After my second conference, I came back to medical school determined to use my degree and education not only for my own individual career growth, but to engage in public health efforts and put to use my very unique background and experiences to help different patient populations. That inspiration has resulted in a project (currently in progress) to facilitate healthcare among Portuguese-speaking patients around the country.
I have three favorite memories from my Fellowship experience. The first one was watching Hamilton, on Broadway, with the rest of my Fellowship class. The show itself was mind-blowing and 100 percent relevant to our stories and our struggles—and there was no better group of people to watch it with. I will forever associate that display of courage and creativity with my class of amazing Fellows. The other two memories were from my second Fall Conference. During the Story Slam, we got to know the stories of previous Fellows, who immediately afterwards felt like family to us (the Fellowship has this unexplainable, magical effect). During the Detroit panel, I was fascinated by the impact that three young Fellows have had in the reconstruction of Detroit—and in creating real change in the world. I left that session inspired to do the same in my field of expertise.
I know that this may sound cliché, but Be Yourself. I used to think that certain backgrounds, obstacles, and life struggles lend themselves more easily to scholarship-winning narratives—that is total bogus. This Fellowship encourages you to think about how your (and your family’s) very unique life story has made you who you are and informs who you want to be. Try to think about the lessons that your past and background have taught you, and how you will use them to make the world a better place.
I am in the middle of my third year of medical school at Harvard. Next year, I will be applying to medical residencies. While I have not decided what field I will pursue, I am most interested in cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology, or anesthesiology. Regardless of my specialty, I plan to combine my passions for clinical medicine and for biomedical research.