It’s More Than Organic Chemistry

By Stephanie Sabido FCLC ‘21

Over the past three years at Fordham, my academic journey has been centered around my long-term goal of getting into a medical school to ultimately become a doctor (not overwhelming at all, right?). As senior year and the realities of my future inch closer and closer, I am stopping to reflect on the difficult but rewarding journey preparing for a health professional career. 

As many of my peers will agree, the pre-med journey is nothing short of challenging. It takes a lot of determination and trust in oneself to commit to a heavy four-year course load, especially when choosing to do so at eighteen with little to no experience. I remember moments freshman and sophomore year where the long journey ahead was anything but encouraging. Occasionally, I would feel some doubts creeping into my mind, making me question whether I am doing well enough in my classes to continue down the pre-med route, or even whether I am sure I want to commit to multiple long years of schooling before I get the job I want. 

My experience shadowing during my junior year has helped ground some of those worries by confirming the main reason I want to pursue a health profession: to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. It is easy to get caught up in the uncertainties of the future as a college student, or the stresses of chemistry class, especially when the reality of a job is years of schooling away. Looking back, I realize that my journey became discouraging partly because I lacked the experience outside of the classroom that would give me a fuller perspective. I needed to see first-hand the results of this journey that stretched beyond the classroom, and to fulfill the part of me that pushed me to pursue pre-med in the first place. This past fall, I started shadowing Dr. Velcek, a pediatric surgeon on the Upper East Side. 

Learning from Dr. Velcek has made clear again the reason for the hard work I have been putting into classes that test my resilience (@ organic chemistry). This past fall I spent time attending her office hours, taking notes as she consulted with patients. The major takeaway from my experience was the comforting manner in which she dealt with her patients. Her main goals were to educate them as best she could on how she would treat the condition and make sure they knew they were in good hands. Her empathetic and comforting manner really made all of the difference in the examination room – unease could be lifted by the time she left the room, which was important to the terrified parents. It was a fruitful experience because it showed how much of my work now will translate into the gratifying experience of keeping others healthy and happy, ultimately helping me to focus on the bigger picture. I am proud to say that I have grown to understand the importance and the beauty of my struggle. I am taking the time to slow down and appreciate the journey, while really taking in that the opportunity to care for others is not just the end goal, but also part of the process.