Meet Our Students

Michael Martinez, BS ‘19

The GPPA Medical Scholars Program challenges students to explore the art and science of medicine early on in their undergraduate career, allowing students to truly explore their passions in medicine. I am currently taking a gap year, working in a molecular biology lab here at UIC! I am pursuing this gap year to strengthen my understanding of immunobiology, as well as to gain familiarity with lab techniques which underscore the basic sciences.

GPPA Medicine was my first opportunity to discuss patient cases within these realms, analyzing readings where physicians had to balance the tenets of doing no harm, alleviating suffering, and preserving patient autonomy. I am excited to carry these insights with me as I prepare to begin medical school, utilizing them will help me understand the art and science of medicine.

My most meaningful leadership position at UIC was serving as the founder/president of the UIC Speech Team. Competitive public speaking involves students traveling to universities across the nation to give speeches on topics which they are passionate about. Similar to gymnastics, there are multiple speaking and acting categories one can compete in, such as persuasive speaking or prose interpretation. As a new team, we had no funding, but our competitors boasted annual budgets near $250,000. With such a significant resource disparity between us and other programs, our only chance at succeeding was working as a team. 12 talented and proven leaders from UIC (including some fellow GPPA Medical Scholars) were selected to join the team. We practiced 10 hours per week, fundraised, and worked part time jobs to afford competing in over 20 regular season tournaments. Lacking coaches, we learned from critiquing one another. In our first year, UIC placed 22nd out of the nearly 100 teams at nationals. The following year, we secured funding for three coaches, propelling us to a 9th place finish at nationals. We were one of the fastest teams in history to place in the top 10. Impressed with these efforts, UIC awarded the UIC Speech Team $60,000 annually to maintain being one of the best teams in the nation.

Michael Martinez, BS ‘19

GPPA taught me how to discuss and challenge set principles. Dr. Chambers and Dr. Cohen pushed us to think about the “non-scientific” competencies which help physicians thrive. We had a conversation surrounding how physicians who were knowledgeable in philosophy and politics, or physicians who enjoyed literature and history, were equipped to be strong patient advocates. This moment helped me understand that being a physician not only requires a strong understanding of the sciences, but it also requires being a well-rounded human as well.  GPPA Medicine was my first opportunity to discuss patient cases within these realms, analyzing readings where physicians had to balance the tenets of doing no harm, alleviating suffering, and preserving patient autonomy. I am excited to carry these insights with me as I prepare to begin medical school, utilizing them will help me understand the art and science of medicine.

Maya Patel, BS ’19

The GPPA Medical Scholars Program has offered me so many opportunities that I couldn’t have had otherwise, which ultimately helped me become more mature and well-rounded. During undergrad, I joined a sorority, which allowed me to cultivate my leadership skills through the various director/executive board positions I held each year. And, the curriculum introduced me to topics in medicine that I would not have been exposed to otherwise. I feel more confident than ever in my ability to be a great physician.

I’m taking a gap year because medicine is not just a career, it’s a lifestyle and a commitment to society. That’s a huge responsibility, and I want to make sure that I’m ready for it.

Currently, I am pursuing a masters in Medical Anthropolgy from the University of Oxford. With this program, I hope to learn about the massive role culture has in how medicine is practiced. Medical practice is directed by physician judgement, which is shaped by one’s culture. I believe that this program will allow me to become more culturally competent, and will help me to better evaluate both my own American cultures’ influence in my medical beliefs. Together, I will leave this course with a better understanding of, to quote from a GPPA course, “the scope of medicine”.

Maya Patel, BS ’19

I’m taking a gap year because medicine is not just a career, it’s a lifestyle and a commitment to society. That’s a huge responsibility, and I want to make sure that I’m ready for it. Taking a gap year will allow me to have a deeper understanding of myself and of the world, and will result in me feeling prepared to take care of others.

Ultimately, GPPA has refined my critical thinking skills, and has challenged me to ask questions about everything. This is a skill crucial for physicians, who are constantly analyzing patients, research, test results, and more. My gap year will help me to better appreciate what medicine is and how culture influences medicine, which will allow me to be a better physician as well.

Albert Yen, Sophomore, Major: Mathematics and Computer Science

I want to study medicine because it offers a unique blend of academic inquiry and human interactions. Doctors are at the forefront of scientific discoveries, whether in a clinical or laboratory setting.  They translate these discoveries and knowledge to advocate for patients.

A premedical education is not a checklist to be crossed off, and the UIC GPPA Medical Scholars Program exemplifies that motto.

I really wanted to fully utilize my undergraduate years to broaden my scope of the world and pursue different academic interests. In the Medical Scholars Program every student is encouraged to take risks and try different things, and truly take ownership of their education. I am especially drawn to the fact that there is no one success model that we are pressured to follow. A premedical education is not a checklist to be crossed off, and the UIC GPPA Medical Scholars Program exemplifies that motto.

Albert Yen, Sophomore

This past summer, I had the privilege of representing the United States at the World Amateur Go Championship in Japan. The tournament features one player from each country and 59 players participated this year. I placed 4th in the 8-round tournament, which tied for the second best American finish ever. After returning to America, I analyzed all 8 of my games and sent game commentaries to the American Go Association to tell other people about my experience in Japan. The games were ultimately published on the AGA E-Journal and were well-received by readers. As a result, I was invited to become a regular contributor to the AGA E-Journal and will write for them once a month. From this experience, I’ve learned that there are always multiple ways to contribute to a community.

My experiences as a GPPA Medical Scholar have encouraged me to reach out and get my ideas across, which will help me communicate better as a physician. Doctors often play important roles in hospitals and universities; being able to present ideas about my game reviews will help me contribute ideas to medicine and make a bigger impact in my community. While not everything I bring up or think about will work out, being proactive is the first step to making a difference.