F-1 Medical doctors assist worldwide college students to U.S. med colleges – Harvard Gazette

Many were first alarmed and then relieved when the administration announced COVID-related plans and then canceled sending international students home when their classes were offered online.

For all of these reasons, a key feature of the program is the mentoring component, which brings international students together with personal advisors who know the challenges they are facing. Mentors include current medical students like Zach Zhao, a HMS from China whose experience is fresh when applying and starting his studies.

Zhao came to the United States at the age of 16, graduated from high school here and attended Johns Hopkins University for his undergraduate studies. He said the high stakes, long chances of winning, and lack of information for international students made the application process both frustrating and stressful. While going through it, Zhao visited HMS and stayed with Virji overnight. When asked if he was willing to help others through F-1 doctors, he agreed.

Zhao spoke to 15 students who want to apply to U.S. medical schools. Some were just about to apply, others were a year or two away from starting the process. He shared experiences such as applying to 27 different schools because he feared that there would be so few places for a huge pool of international applicants.

Zhao said the most common uncertainty applicants have is about their qualifications. When the students are at the end of their college careers, he urges them to put that aside, have confidence in themselves, and understand that admissions officers consider the entire student. Activities and personal desire – expressed in essays offered with the application – are important along with grades and MCAT ratings.

“This is definitely something I will hold on to and if I succeed I will hopefully have a chance to give something back.”

– Sai Sagireddy

“The most common topic is reassurance. I did it. You will be able to. Don’t concern yourself with doubts, ”said Zhao.

He tells them to think about how they stand out, what strengths they have that are unique. He also offers help with the personal statement of the application, in which the students have to talk about why they want to become a doctor. This is often a struggle, Zhao said, partly because college classes train students to write more analytically and also because many students are not used to writing about themselves or from cultures that the Hinder self-promotion.

Sai Sagireddy, a freshman at Baylor University in Texas, is an international student not only in the United States, but also in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago. Sagireddy was born in India but moved to the Caribbean islands with his parents at a young age. When he was in middle school, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor. He shadowed his father during hospital visits and volunteered for a nonprofit that helped low-income families with cancer problems.

He came to Texas for his freshman year in August and has followed the advice of his mentor Zhao to take a research position in a drug discovery laboratory. He said he plans to keep in touch with the young medical student in the coming years and hopefully switch roles once he is accepted into medical school.

“This is definitely something I will hold on to and if I succeed I will hopefully have a chance to give something back,” Sagireddy said.