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 California State University, Fullerton

Hailey Cochran

Hailey Cochran

Like most children, I was asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" hundreds of times throughout my childhood. At first, I simply answered with whatever career choice sounded good that day. However, around the age of ten, I was exposed to hospital settings and discovered that I absolutely loved helping and spending time with patients. From that point on, my response to the question of my desired future occupation elicited a resounding "I am going to be a doctor when I grow up!" I have since been on a direct path to a career in the medical field.

It was not until these last few years that I have really taken the time to sit down and analyze what it is within me that causes me to be drawn to a career in medicine. While it is true that the money and prestige are incredibly appealing, they are not why I have chosen this path. The very thought of being a doctor, or even the mention of medical topics, stirs up a passion in me unlike anything I have ever felt before. I am completely enthralled by how our bodies work, and I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life trying to uncover its mysteries!

My interest in medicine was first kindled when I was given the opportunity to volunteer at the Veteran's Affairs Hospital in Topeka, Kansas. My aunt is a recreational therapist at the VA, and often let me accompany her to work. The joy that came from being able to put a smile on the faces of those veterans was magical! It was during these visits that I realized I am meant to spend my life working to better the lives of others.

Throughout the years, I have continued to volunteer at various hospitals and with multiple organizations such as Silverado Hospice. Spending time with patients has enriched my life and reassured me that I am choosing the right career. One of the most amazing experiences of my life was made possible through volunteer work. Last summer, I was given the opportunity to travel to Honduras as a member of the Global Medical Brigade organization. My colleagues and I travelled to rural villages in the mountains of Honduras and set up free clinics for the townspeople. We handed out medicine, vitamins, and clothes, courtesy of the United States. It was incredible to see how appreciative these people were not only for the material gifts we gave them, but even more so for the basic healthcare we provided, something many Americans take for granted. We saw many children who had never before seen a physician, not even when their mothers gave birth; and many people were treated for parasite infestation. We dealt with many health issues that would never threaten Americans, but that caused serious illnesses in the villagers. Being able to make their lives a little bit easier was an awesome experience, and I cannot wait to go on more brigades such as this one!

My pursuit of a career in medicine has taken me far away from my hometown of Topeka. With the hopes of expanding my horizons, I decided to move from Kansas to California, where I became part of a molecular biology research lab. My colleagues and I worked with mouse embryonic stem cells in order to gain a better understanding of the cellular pathways that maintain pluripotency. The time I spent doing research opened my eyes to how intricate and amazing the human body truly is. I feel that the knowledge I gained from these experiences will help me to become a more well-rounded physician.

I know that the journey to becoming a doctor is not an easy one, yet I am ready for the challenge. My school work, volunteer experiences, and extracurricular activities have helped prepare me for the obstacles ahead. Armed with my determination, and the love and support of my friends and family, I have what it takes to become an extraordinary member of the medical care community.