Ashley McDonald is a friend of mine from The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, NY. I have always been amazed by her work ethic and ability to juggle so much at once. Ashley is currently commuting to Hofstra University for her undergraduate education. I thought you may be interested in hearing more about her story.
What made you decide to go into medicine in the first place?
“When my mom got sick during my junior year of high school everything almost fell apart. It was in the midst of SATs and college applications. All everyone could talk about was their hopes and dreams for college and leaving home and I couldn’t even think about testing and applications, much less leaving home; leaving my mom. The powerlessness I felt during that time is not something I’d wish on anyone. I’m thankful for my moms team of doctors that gave us her life back. I want to help and relieve suffering in any way that I can. I want to be a part of the solution to the world’s issues.”
How has commuting to Hofstra been for you?
“Commuting has been a struggle to say the least. Long Island traffic is like no other. My commute could range from 35 min to 80 min, maybe more. I remember during the mildest snow falls the state has ever seen, it took me 4 hours to get home. Waking up at 6 to get ready for an 8 am class and then possibly having to be on campus till 5 or 6 in the evening was rough. It wasn’t like I could nap in my dorm, so the aspect of commuting was definitely difficult in conjunction with a difficult class schedule.”
How do you juggle everything? ie school, work, commuting, friends, family
“I find that it’s important to have a day to yourself; A day you can do absolutely nothing; a day to completely disconnect. I try not to box myself in with a million appointments or friend dates each week. I let the week start and assess what I have on my plate and go from there, although there are a few people that I’ll completely rearrange my schedule for (Catherine included).”
What would your advice be to anyone looking to go into medicine?
“Make sure that your motives for getting into it are completely pure. It’s a lot of work and it takes 90% of your time and pushes you to the brink of wanting to throw in the towel. When you see a family suffering or see a sick child you should feel motivated to keep going so that one day you can help. If your motivation is money and a title I think you’re going to be very miserable. I am currently miserable but when I see the impact and relief that doctors provide- simply through philanthropic-non-profit work, I get a surge of motivation. So I think that’s a good tell for anyone that wants to get into medicine- it’s a good tell of whether or not it’ll be for you.”
How do you feel about starting your career soon?
“I think after high school everyone needs a break. Yes— it’s good to push through and not get distracted but at the same time you might get burnt out. For me, I think I needed a little time to just exist before getting immersed into all the all-nighters and constant anxiety. I took a gap this semester and the relief is immeasurable. Never underestimate the need of your mind and body to rest. It’s literally like a cool glass of water after running a mile.”
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