IS NOT AN OUTLIER.
Determined to become a doctor, Divyam has pushed himself to become the best medical school applicant he can. As the pandemic has deprived many students from hands-on educational experiences, Divyam sees his dreams of becoming a well educated and confident doctor slipping out of his hands.
Divyam at the awards for the 2019 Utah Science Fair
FINDING A HOME IN SCIENCE
As a middle schooler, Divyam grows a passion for microbiology and infectious diseases. He participates in science fairs, where he enjoys the company of like-minded peers. He continues his research into high school earning admission into university laboratories and competing internationally.
"COMMUNITY AND COLLABORATIVE SPIRIT WERE THE MAJOR FACTORS THAT DREW ME TO RESEARCH. I LOVED HOW THE SCIENCE I WAS DOING HAD THE POTENTIAL TO HELP INDIVIDUALS AROUND ME."
AN EXCITING BEGINNING
Divyam enters his freshman year interested in pursuing a career in research. He becomes heavily involved on campus through his university's student government, the community at his dorm, and an ultimate frisbee club. For him, these opportunities foster a sense of belonging as a student.
Divyam finding plants for the community garden the temple he attends.
A stethoscope Divyam found at a thrift store.
A SINGLE HANDSHAKE
Divyam falls heavily ill during winter break. With his family out of town, he realized he would need to take himself to the hospital alone, something he has never done.
Divyam drives himself to the local hospital, where he checks in at the front desk. He feels stressed, uneasy, and awkward.
The doctor enters the room and greets Divyam with a warm handshake, which instantly communicates to Divyam that he will be taken care of, safe, and welcome. In that moment, Divyam decides he wants to change his goals in order to pursue medicine.
"THE CONFIDENCE AND GRACE OF THAT HANDSHAKE WAS STARTLING. I WENT IN FEARFUL AND CAME OUT WITH A SMILE. AND THAT'S WHEN I KNEW, THIS IS WHAT I WANTED TO DO WITH MY LIFE. IF I CAN EASE SOMEONE'S ANXIETY AND PAIN LIKE THAT, THEN I'LL BE FULFILLED."
THEN COVID-19 HIT.
FORCED TO MAKE SACRIFICES
The pandemic completely disrupts Divyam's plans and confidence as a pre-med student. He is forced to move back home from his dorm, which means all the actions he takes now potentially endangers the life of his immunocompromised father.
Divyam can no longer pursue any of his extracurricular activities, which were an integral part of his education as a pre-med student. He no longer is able to continue his position as a volunteer at a local clinic, nor shadow doctors. He loses all clinical exposure. Additionally, he's forced to sacrifice his job as a pharmacy technician, all in order to protect his father's health.
Divyam's micropipette is a gift from his father, who used it in his own research.
"I'VE REALIZED THAT THE PEOPLE AND CONNECTIONS WERE INTEGRAL TO THE SATISFACTION I ASSOCIATED WITH SCHOOL. WITHOUT THEM, STUFF FEELS LIKE A CHORE."
Divyam with friends from his dorm
THE REALITY SETS IN
The pandemic disconnects Divyam from his labs, volunteer opportunities, campus organizations, and his friends on campus. He begins to recognize how instrumental everything outside of the classroom was to his college experience.
"IT'S DIFFICULT TO GO BACK TO AN EDUCATIONS THAT'S BEEN WHITTLED DOWN TO THE BARE MINIMUM - AND THEN SOME."
A SHARED CHALLENGE
SEE THE DATA
IS IT WORTH IT?
With fall semesters stripped of many of the qualities that make up the "college experience" during the present pandemic, combined with decades long trends of declining affordability of tuition, students are questioning the value of their education.
TO BE CONTINUED
PREPARING THE DOCTORS OF TOMORROW
Divyam and countless students like him have recognized how the activities and experiences outside of the classroom made their education unique and valuable.
By pursuing a student-centric focus, schools can work towards providing students the multitude of opportunities that will give them the foundation to become confident leaders in their communities.