Begin at the Beginning

The first time I saw this view was the evening after my interview day. As every med school applicant knows, it was a day filled with a blur of suits and name tags and new faces. But then at the end of the day, I was alone, and I stood on the steps and looked out over the quad and took in this view. I suddenly felt a sense of peace and calm.

The second time was when—after many months and trips, leading to revisiting and choosing a school and moving to a new city—I was back, this time as a first-year medical student. The day of the White Coat Ceremony, the quad was a picture of joy, students and loved ones together with excited chatter and laughter and the clicking of cameras. My parents and my partner were here to celebrate the beginning of medical school with me. When I had a moment alone, I stood on the steps by myself and looked out at the quad on that bright day in August, and I wondered what I would learn that would change me and the others standing in the quad in the upcoming years.

The third time was more recent. It was evening, and I was going back home after a day of classes and studying. I’d walked these familiar paths many times already. But I still paused for a moment to look at the view and take it in.

It was very quiet, save for the occasional person walking by in scrubs, maybe returning home after a long shift at one of the hospitals. I thought about the view here. I imagined coming back four or more years later, perhaps on Match Day, at a different point further along in my journey. And I wondered whether the view would change at all, or whether it would just be that I was looking at it through different eyes.

Everyone in our class has a different reason for being here, but we all chose to start on the same journey.

This is how I begin, at the beginning, with two things I’d like to do: first, learn from the people around me—my classmates, our teachers, our community—learn about everything that led them to be where they are, including the lessons and hardships. The other is to share what I learn and experience myself, in my own story.