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 California State University, Fullerton

Brian McMichael

Brian McMichael

If at first, you don't succeed...

I graduated from Anaheim High School in 1979. I attended CSUF for two and one-half years as a Biological Sciences major. I was unprepared for university-level work; I left school with a 2.33 GPA, and joined the Marine Corps. I served on active duty for 10 years as a Military Police Dog Handler. During my military service, I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology through Chapman University. During my service I married and divorced with one son. I had always wanted to be a physician, but I believed that I had burned my bridges and that embarking on the path to become a physician was foolhardy and doomed to failure.

After I left the service, I worked as a Community Educator for Planned Parenthood in Orange County, for four and one-half years. While working at Planned Parenthood, I also earned a reserve commission as an Army officer. I then worked for three academic years as an Alternative Education Teacher for the Orange County Department of Education teaching foster care children. The desire to become a physician remained for me the problem that wouldn't go away. After having coached foster care children toward increasing their resilience, and to use failure simply as information on how to improve future performance, I figured that I'd better take my own advice before it was too late.

I started my full-time pre-med coursework when I was 37 years old. I began at Irvine Valley College. I met with a medical school admissions counselor at UCI, who urged me to attend a four-year school, recommmeded CSUF and referred me to Dr. Drath. So, I returned to the scene of the crime when I transferred to CSUF as a post-baccalaureate student. After two years of pre-med studies, I took the MCAT and applied to medical school. My son lives in southern California, so I applied only in California. I received secondary applications from all schools except UCSD. I continued to take courses through this application year. I interviewed at UCI and was placed on the alternate list. During this time, I worked full-time as a Mental Health Worker in several in-patient psychiatric settings.

Over that stressful summer, I reapplied to medical schools in California and applied to graduate school at CSUF. I was accepted at CSUF in the Biological Sciences department. As the school year began, I was not, however, matriculated at UCI. I pursued graduate studies that year and worked as a Teaching Associate and Graduate Assistant. I received secondary applications from all schools except UCSD and UCSF. Again I interviewed at UCI. Less than one month later, I was offered a seat in the class of 2007 at the College of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine. I immediately accepted.

I completed my courses in-progress at CSUFand then withdrew from the master's program. I began my first year of medical school at the age of 42. If all goes according to plan, I will begin practicing medicine around the age of 50. My perspective on these inverted milestones is that I will be whatever age I am whether I do these things or not. In that case, I may as well be doing what I truly feel called to do.

This first year has been like a year of Finals Week, but in the best classes ever. I am involved in many extracurricular activities; I see my son, and even have free time. This quest definitely has been the correct path for me. My message to you is, "Don't give up; seek advice; pursue self-improvement, and most importantly, don't give up!"

Here's a quote in which I have come to believe whole-heartedly:

"Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
'Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.'"

W. H. Murray. The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London 1951.

Brian McMichael