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Student Testimonials

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Renate Meckl - Pre-Medical

Name: Renate Meckl
Major: Biology Major with a Chemistry Minor
HSPP Plan: Pre-Medical
Hometown: Oconomowoc, WI
High school: Oconomowoc High School
UTM graduate: May 2017

 

Why did you choose Biology as a major?
I knew going into college that I was interested in the sciences. Even though I was uncertain of the specific career that I wanted to pursue, I knew that it would be something in the science realm and a biology major would give me a lot of flexibility to choose.

 

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to do any sort of outdoor activities including running, hiking, skiing, camping, or fishing. Exercising and weightlifting are also a part of my daily routine and I thoroughly enjoy playing softball and other sports. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

 

Were you a member of any organizations at UTM? If yes, which organizations? Did you hold any important roles? If yes, what were they?
I was selected as one of the softball representatives for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) which contains two athletes from each sport to be a voice between student athletes and the athletic department. Sophomore year I was accepted into the Pre-Med Scholars program. I was also a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and was involved in the weekly meetings.

 

Where will you be going this fall?
I will be attending the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine.

 

What was the hardest part of the application process?
The hardest part of the application process is the drawn-out nature of it and the waiting process. Once you submit your application, typically it takes months for you to hear anything back from the schools.

 

How many schools did you apply to?
I applied to 14 schools, in total. Eleven of the schools were osteopathic medical schools.

 

How did you choose the schools you applied to?
Initially, I narrowed down schools by location and determined places that I would like to live while attending school. From there, I looked at the school websites to find their mission statement, values, and goals to compare them to my own goals and vision for my future career. For example, eventually I would like to be involved in medical mission trips so I looked for schools that provide opportunities like this during medical school. It is also smart to look at a school’s board scores and residency match rate. These two things will come into the play toward the end of medical school but are important criteria in determining the strength of education that you will receive.

 

What advice would you give to pre-medical student?
I believe that it is very important as a premedical student to involve yourself in as many shadowing and medical field exposure opportunities as possible. The more exposure you have, the better you can judge your interest in pursuing a career as a doctor. Since the path to becoming a doctor is very rigorous, it is important to reaffirm that you are aware of what the field entails and dedicated enough to persevere. I would recommend taking advantage of shadowing opportunities and if you have a chance, look into becoming a medical scribe. Currently I am a medical scribe in an ER in Milwaukee, WI and absolutely love it. You work very closely with the doctors and get an awesome glimpse into what the job entails, plus you are in the room with them for every patient case including trauma! This job has been great for exposure to medical terminology and a variety of diagnoses plus you get to see some pretty cool stuff! It definitely gives an accurate gauge of whether you are truly interested in the medical field.

 

The 2018-2019 application cycle will begin in May. What advice do you have for students who are applying?
Begin working on your application as soon as it becomes available. If your application is submitted shortly after the process opens, you will be ahead of the game and most likely competing with fewer applicants at the time. It is a time consuming process but if you dedicate a portion of time each day, it will be more manageable.

 

What other information do you think pre-dental students should know?
While being surrounded by so many other people who are applying to professional schools right out of college, it is easy to have a negative perception of a gap year. I admit that I had the same perception when I wasn’t accepted the first time that I applied and needed to take a gap year. However, this gap year has ended up being the best experience that I could have imagined. I have been able to take advantage of many opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had gotten into medical school right after undergrad. My passion for medical school has only been enhanced during this year and has reaffirmed that I am on the right path. Don’t rule out a gap year if you don’t get in the first time or would like another year of preparation before applying. Taking gap years can actually work in your favor and make you a stronger applicant since it shows your dedication in pursuing medicine. There are so many paths that I have heard of people taking to get to medical school including doing nursing or paramedic work for years beforehand. The average age of students starting medical school is 24-25 so you are not alone if you are in medical school a few years after undergrad. Your path may be unique but I can promise, if you have the passion for medicine and the perseverance to overcome whatever difficulties may come in the process, you will be successful and find your way.

 

 

Ashlyn Robinson - Pre-Occupational Therapy

Name: Ashlyn Robinson
Major: Health and Human Performance with a concentration in Exercise Science and Wellness
HSPP Plan: Pre-Occupational Therapy
Hometown: Clarksville, TN
High school: Northwest High School
UTM graduate: May 2018

 

Why did you choose HHP as a major?
During my freshman year, I was a Biology major. However, after talking to several occupational therapists and comparing the course work required by each major, I decided HHP would better fit my future plans. HHP course work included many of the pre-requisites I needed for OT school, and I felt those classes would better prepare me.

 

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to get outside with my husband and our two golden retrievers; to walk, hike, or go to a park. I also enjoy going to visit family and friends. Traveling is another thing I love and wish I could do more of.

 

Were you a member of any organizations at UTM? If yes, which organizations? Did you hold any important roles? If yes, what were they?
The organization I was most involved in was the University Scholars Organization. This organization is for students in the University Scholars Program, which is a sequence of courses and activities for a group of individuals typically selected during their senior year of high school. The organization aspect of this program is student-run and provides social and service opportunities. During my time in this organization, I served as Historian for one year and Secretary for another.

 

Where will you be going this fall?
I have been accepted into The University of Chattanooga's Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Program and will be starting there in August.

 

What was the hardest part of the application process?
One thing I had trouble with was getting the proper documents to confirm my shadowing/observation hours. I started shadowing my freshman year and was not aware of the official OTCAS document needed to confirm shadowing hours. For the other two settings I shadowed later, I accessed and used the document needed. However, when I started working on my application, I learned that document had since changed. So, I had to try contacting people I hadn't seen for years, and get them to sign a new document to show I had shadowed there. It ended up working out, but it was time consuming waiting on responses and lead to me submitting my application much later than I had hoped.
Another thing that was difficult for me was getting a letter of recommendation from an OT. For most schools, one of the three letters of recommendation must come from an OT. While I had worked with some OTs during my time shadowing, I hadn't spent a significant amount of time with a single OT. Therefore, I had trouble choosing one that I felt knew me well enough to write a letter of recommendation. I ended up asking the OT I had shadowed most recently, even though it had been almost a year. She was willing to help, but I don't know how great of a letter it was. I recommend spending a good amount of time with a certain OT that you think would be willing to recommend you in the future.

 

How many schools did you apply to?
I only applied to two schools - The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I was a little nervous about not having many options, but thankfully I was accepted to both and got to choose my top choice.

 

How did you choose the schools you applied to?
I knew I wanted to stay in Tennessee, so I had five options. I then narrowed down to three options based on cost. My top two choices were UTHSC and UTC, so I applied to both of them. I had no doubts about the quality of either program, so the primary reason UTC was my top choice was because the location will be a better fit for my husband and me.

 

What advice would you give to pre-physical therapy students?
If you know you want to go into occupational therapy, get started as early as possible. Start shadowing right away, and observe in a variety of settings. Also, take your classes and especially your prerequisites seriously. Soak up as much knowledge as you can, because you'll definitely be using it in the future.
Lastly, look ahead at what the application process will require and have a plan. Figure out when you want to take the GRE, how you'll get your shadowing hours done, who you want letters of recommendation from, etc. It's easy to not realize how long things will take, and then get behind in your timeline. Just stay on top of things as much as you can!

 

The 2018-2019 application cycle will begin in July. What advice do you have for students who are applying?
As I have said already, get started as soon as you can. You probably won't be able to complete the application right when it opens, but you can work on sections gradually over time. That way it doesn't pile up and become overwhelming. Also, if you know someone who has already gone through, don't be afraid to ask for help. The application can be confusing and it helps to have someone who knows what to do.

 

How did you prepare for the GRE?
The main resource I used was a Kaplan GRE Prep book. I started by reading the sections that explain what the test includes and how it should be taken. I then put together a Quizlet of GRE vocab words and started studying some every day. Besides studying vocab words, I worked through all of the practice sections and full practice tests in the Kaplan book.

 

What advice do you have for students who are preparing for the GRE?
Most people say to take a full-length practice before studying anything. The reasoning behind this is to see which sections you do well on and which you need to spend more time on. I didn't do this, because I felt like I needed to study it all. I didn't want to get too confident on certain parts based on one practice test.
I highly recommend using some kind of prep book. Start working on little things, like studying vocab words each day, a couple months out from your test date. A month to a month and a half before your test, start spending more time going through tons of practice problems. You can read all about different types of problems, but I think working through those problems is the only way to get comfortable with them. Two weeks before the test, start going through full-length practice tests to build up your stamina and get used to the flow of switching between sections. Take the day before your test to relax, and stay calm and confident on test day.

 

What other information do you think pre-physical therapy students should know?
Keep your grades up and aim for a great GRE score. While grades aren't everything, they tend to be what schools look at first. If the numbers aren't good, it's an easy way to cut prospects. On the other hand, most schools want a person to stand out. Even if you have great grades, use your personal statement or interview to show the school your passion and why you should get a spot in their program.
One of the most beneficial things I've done in undergrad is my internship. For students that major in HHP: Exercise Science and Wellness, your last semester consists solely of a 400-hour internship over about 10 weeks. You get to see a lot when shadowing, but getting to spend an entire semester at one clinic allows you to get comfortable working alongside OTs and patients. Even for pre-OT students that aren't Exercise Science majors, I would highly recommend completing some type of internship if possible.

 

 

2017 Success Stories

Samantha O'Neill - Pre-Physical Therapy

Name: Samantha O'Neill
Major: HHP Exercise Science and Wellness
HSPP Plan: Pre-Physical Therapy
Hometown: Hendersonville, TN
High school: Hendersonville High School
UTM graduate: May 2016

 

Why did you choose that major?
I wanted a hands-on job that did not require sitting at a desk all day. I was originally undeclared so I spent a lot of time reading the descriptions of potential majors and I chose the one that made me feel excited just by reading about it. It was also helpful to interview people already working in that field.

 

What do you like to do in your free time?
Hiking, going to wineries, playing soccer, and watching Netflix.

 

Were you a member of any organizations at UTM? If yes, which organizations? Did you hold any important roles? If yes, what were they?
I was only a part of a few organizations, unfortunately. I joined the SHAPE club and was a Publicity Officer and I was also the Student Vice President of Phi Kappa Phi. JOIN ORGANIZATIONS!!! I regretted that I did not take part in many organizations. I was a member of 5 honor societies, but not clubs so I had to leave an entire section of my application blank. On the application they ask you what clubs you were a part of, what your title was, a description of what you do, and how many hours per week you participated. I was very unprepared for this, so keep track of everything! Joining honor societies is not enough; do more.

 

Where will you be going this fall?
University of Tennessee Health Science Center

 

What was the hardest part of the application process?
Feeling overwhelmed and trying not to procrastinate.

 

How many schools did you apply to?
Seven

 

How did you choose the schools you applied to?
Cost and location were the most important factors to me.

 

What advice would you give to pre-physical therapy students?
JOIN ORGANIZATIONS! LOTS OF THEM! Also, volunteer at as many places as you can. I felt a little rushed to do this because I thought my internship would be enough. It isn’t. I recommend a nursing home, pediatrics, and something fun like aquatics or hippotherapy. It doesn’t take as long as you think because you only need a few hours from each place so just go ahead and get it done in a summer.

 

The 2017-2018 application cycle for physical therapy school will begin in July. What advice do you have for students who are applying?
Get your hours in early and start forming relationships with teachers so that you will not have a hard time deciding who to ask for letters of recommendation. Definitely form a relationship with the head of the department. Have multiple people proof-read your essay. Take the GRE multiple times (it is a huge deciding factor along with GPA). Lastly, BREATHE. You will get through it and it will be worth it.

 

How did you prepare for the GRE?
I purchased a Kaplan online study packet. It was about $700, but I definitely recommend it. It allows you to take a few full length practice GRE tests that are exactly like the real deal. It also makes personal quizzes for you based on your weaknesses from the practice tests.

 

What advice do you have for students who are preparing for the GRE?
If you can’t afford the Kaplan study packet they offer a few free practice GRE tests throughout the year. They are graded like the real test, so it lets you know your starting point and what your weaknesses are. They also have free notecards with the most common GRE words and a lot of them were on there. Study prefixes and suffixes and you will be able to guess most of the vocab. Also, brush up on your basic math equations like area of a triangle.

 

What other information do you think pre-physical therapy students should know?
Start early. I did not decide to pursue Physical Therapy until the end of Sophomore year, and did not really start looking into the process until Senior year. I do not recommend doing this because it definitely makes the whole process seem overwhelming. Make sure you make a good impression at your internship because your supervisor’s letter of recommendation is crucial. All the schools I applied to required a letter of recommendation from a licensed PT so make sure you form a good relationship with one. Study hard. My GPA made up for my lack of participation in clubs and my barely above average GRE score. If your GPA is not great make sure the other important areas accommodate for that. Keep your chin up!

 

 

2016 Success Stories

Anna Warren, Pre-Physical Therapy

Name: Anna Warren
Major: Health and Human Performance (HHP)
HSPP Plan: Pre-Physical Therapy
Hometown: Medina, TN
High school: South Gibson County High School
UTM graduate: May 2016

 

Why did you choose HHP as a major?
I chose Health and Human Performance because it lined up well with the prerequisites for PT school, gave me experience in the field, and had an approachable and helpful staff.

 

What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I like to play sports, teach my dog new tricks, and go to the lake.

 

Were you a member of any organizations at UTM? If yes, which organizations? Did you hold any important roles? If yes, what were they?
I was a member of several organizations while on campus, but the things that made the biggest impact on me were being a PEP leader, being in SGA, and being in the S.H.A.P.E. Club President. All of these positions helped me know my university and department even better, gave me an opportunity to network, and all the while help my university.

 

Where will you be going this fall?
University of Tennessee Health Science Center

 

What was the hardest part of the application process?
The hardest part was probably constructing my personal essay. The rest was mostly just entering in my information. A tip I would give is to write down everything from freshman year and on because sometimes it’s hard to remember community service, stuff you were involved it, etc. when it comes time to put it all in the application. I had an upperclassman helping me with the application, but if I didn’t have her I would probably be lost.  You have to be on top of it and realize when it is time to start applying. It was really beneficial for me to have that upperclassman when I had all those little questions about the application that come up.

 

How many schools did you apply to?
4

 

How did you choose the schools you applied to?
I wanted to stay in state, or closer to home. Affordability also played into my decision. I also know several alumni from UT Health Science Center, all of which are excellent physical therapists. That is part of the reason why UT Health Science Center was my top choice.

 

What advice would you give to pre-PT students?

  • Grades are very important from the very beginning. Slacking off in the beginning will be very hard to make up later. The standards are so high now, you almost have to be blemish-free to get into school.
  • Pay attention to the professors you decide to take. A professor could make all the difference according to your learning style.
  • Get experience early. You want to be sure this is what you want to do before it’s too late. Don’t waste your time and money.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors. Build a relationship with them.

 

The 2016-2017 application cycle will begin in July. What advice do you have for students who are applying?

  • Go ahead and be searching out schools before the application cycle starts. Make sure you have all of their pre-requisites.
  • Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone when applying to schools. That one you almost didn’t apply to may be the only school you get in to.
  • Get your stuff in as soon as possible.
  • Get your personal statement proofed by several other people.

 

How did you prepare for the GRE?
I used the Kaplan study book. Reviewing the quantitative portion was more useful to me because a lot of the math is stuff I learned in high school but had forgotten. The qualitative is so off the wall that you almost can’t prepare for it. I also got apps on my phone to look at flashcards during my spare time (between class; waiting for something).

 

What advice do you have for students who are preparing for the GRE?

  • Take it early enough where you will have time to take it again before the application is due if you need to.
  • Use the study book and get the apps.
  • Start studying as far ahead of time as possible. Even if it’s just a little bit at a time.
  • Focus on quantitative. Your score can be more greatly improved by studying it than it could be with the qualitative.

 

What other information do you think pre-physical therapy students should know?

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions- no questions are stupid.
  • Get volunteer experience as soon as you can- to figure out if this is in fact what you want to do and to build up the hours you will need to apply.
  • Get experience in more than just one setting.
  • KEEP YOUR GRADES UP. That’s something you can’t go back and change. They can’t ignore the numbers.

 

 

Ben Reeves, Pre-Medical

Name: Ben Reeves
Major: Cell and Molecular Biology
HSPP Plan: Pre-Medical
Hometown: Knoxville, TN
High school: Bearden High School
UTM graduate: May 2016

 

Why did you choose Biology as a major?
I had a strong interest in biology in high school, plus the biology degree requirements matched up well with many medical schools’ required courses.

 

What do you like to do in your free time?
I was a 4-year member of the UTM men’s golf team, so golf definitely occupied much of my free time, but I loved every second. I also enjoy reading, hiking, and spending time with my awesome fiancé!

 

Were you a member of any organizations at UTM? If yes, which organizations? Did you hold any important roles? If yes, what were they?
I was a member of the UTM men’s golf team, and I served as team captain during my last three years. I was an active member of the UTM Pre-Med Scholars, and I was also very involved with the Baptist Collegiate Ministry during my four years.

 

Where will you be going this fall?
ETSU Quillen College of Medicine

 

What was the hardest part of the application process?
I’d say waiting. It is extremely difficult having to wait almost two months to hear back from your dream school about a secondary application. Patience is key, because it really is a long, drawn-out process. But don’t give up!

 

How many schools did you apply to?
13

 

How did you choose the schools you applied to?
I used the fishing net approach for my med school application process: throw a big enough net out, and surely you’ll catch at least one fish. That explains the relatively large number of schools I applied to. I realize that approach isn’t the best for everyone, but it paid off for me. I applied to in-state schools as well as many out-of-state schools directly surrounding TN. I only applied to programs that I had a strong desire to attend and would have been excited about going to had any one of them been the only acceptance I received. I believe the second worse thing behind not getting accepted at all is getting only one acceptance and it being to a school that you don’t completely love.

 

What advice would you give to pre-medical students?
If medicine really is your passion, then don’t give up! Some undergrad classes really can be difficult, but it is all completely doable. Also, make sure you are getting into medicine for the right reasons. Medicine isn’t as candy coated as TV and movies make it seem. But, if your heart is right, I believe that it is the most fulfilling profession out there!

 

The 2016-2017 application cycle will begin in May. What advice do you have for students who are applying?
Apply as early as you can! Nothing beats getting that application in on the first day and having it verified in a matter of days instead of weeks. And don’t allow yourself to get discouraged. You have worked so hard to get to this point, and that hard work will pay off! Also, don’t let a test score (MCAT) define you or discourage you… Medical schools look at so many other items on your application, and as long as you are a great, well-rounded applicant, even a below average MCAT score won’t necessarily keep you from getting an acceptance. And try to enjoy the process! There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

What other information do you think pre-medical students should know?
Apply to Pre-Med Scholars! It is an incredible tool that will give great opportunities for shadowing local physicians as well as awesome MCAT test prep.

 

 

Anita Afshari, Pre-Dental

Name: Anita Afshari
Major: Cell & Molecular Biology
HSPP Plan: Pre-Dental
Hometown: Brentwood, TN
High school: Brentwood High School
UTM graduate: May 2016

 

Why did you choose Biology as a major?
My favorite class in high school was biology!

 

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to work out to de-stress, meditate/do yoga, bake desserts, make jewelry, swim and also spending time with family and friends!

 

Were you a member of any organizations at UTM? If yes, which organizations? Did you hold any important roles? If yes, what were they?
I was a member of Mu Epsilon Delta (MED), then became Vice President of Public Relations, and now I’m President this year.

 

Where will you be going this fall?
UTHSC College of Dentistry!

 

What was the hardest part of the application process?
I think the personal essay was difficult, because you want to sound unique to the committee and you want your essay to stand out compared to everyone else’s and catch someone’s eye.  Likewise, ask for Letters of Recommendation early (I’d say beginning of May) and give that person a deadline to submit it to AADSAS so you aren’t just waiting on them to submit it.  Other than that, the rest was typing in your grades into AADSAS, sending transcripts, and just waiting around until everything was received. Applications opened up June 2 so apply ASAP. I started June 2, and submitted it mid-June because you have to wait for AADSAS to receive your transcripts and have to wait for your Letters of Recommendations to be received once the people you chose writes them.

 

How many schools did you apply to?
7 schools

 

How did you choose the schools you applied to?
I chose schools based on closeness to family and if I knew anyone going there. I recommend definitely looking at price as well, since not all out of state schools will have the same tuition.

 

What advice would you give to pre-dental students?
Aside from good grades, of course, try to do as much shadowing as you can (I had 200 hours when I applied), and also have stellar extracurriculars. Join organizations relevant to the sciences or the field (like MED!) and try to get a leadership position.

 

The 2016-2017 application cycle will begin in June. What advice do you have for students who are applying?
As said earlier APPLY EARLY. Why? Because it’s not like you submit it June 2nd and it gets sent that day. Processing transcripts takes 2 weeks, and processing the whole application takes a week or two as well. I sent mine mid-June (pretty early) and you should too!

 

How did you prepare for the DAT?

  • Do not try to study while you’re in school. Either study the month of Christmas or study after class are done in May and take it in June (but if applications open up June 2nd know that it takes a week or 2 for DAT scores to get sent to AADSAS-this is why I didn’t get to submit everything until mid June).
  • I purchased DAT Destroyer
  • I separately purchased DAT Math Destroyer (if you’re weak in math-buy this- it is well worth the $100)
  • I also did DAT Boot camp. An online website that has practice tests and PAT generators which help A LOT to show you what it’s like to actually be taking the test.
  • Also I got the practice tests that you can buy from ADA, just go on their website, and I took that the week before the test. These were the closest scores to my actual DAT Score.
  • GET FERALIS’S NOTES! They’re free and online on SDN or just google it, he made notes for the BIO section of the DAT and it is the most comprehensive thing I ever read and most helpful!

 

What advice do you have for students who are preparing for the DAT?
Do not buy 8 books, buy 2 or 3 and just focus on those 3, don’t overwhelm yourself and waste money when you just plan on skimming over the books. Also, breathe. I know it’s anxious going into a test so scared but be confident in yourself. I assure you, you will NEVER feel ready but if you studied enough then you can rock this test! Also it’s a 4 hours test with a 15 minute break, take snacks and a drink.

 

What other information do you think pre-physical therapy students should know?
Please, please, please go to Student Doctor Network’s Pre Dental Forums (http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/pre-dental.17/)
It’s basically anonymous chats where pre-dental students ask questions like, what to study for the DAT, what are my chances of getting in, or all the usual questions many of us pre-dental students have. This website gave me so much sound advice!

 

 

 

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