Our research coordinator, Kitty Quintanilla, has been accepted into medical school. She has been one of the Centro SOL research coordinators since 2016. Kitty will start school in summer 2017! Join us to congratulate Kitty on her way to her new adventure! Felicidades Kitty!

1. Tell me your full name

Kassandra Pamela Quintanilla

2. Something about your family (where they are from) that you want to share

My family is from El Salvador and they came here to escape the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s. Neither of them have much education, but they worked very very hard to take care of my brother and I, and with pure hard work they became very successful, despite having arrived with nothing and not even knowing the language. My parents wanted my brother and I to have a better future and a better life than they did, and they pushed us to go to college and pursue strong careers.

3. Which high school did you attend? 

I went to Eastern Technical High School. It is a magnet high school that often has most students graduating with some kind of work certification or career-related course load- I graduated with a CNA/GNA license and briefly worked as a nursing assistant.

4. What was your favorite class?

My favorite classes were the Allied Health courses, and also biology.

5. Who inspired or motivated you?

To be honest, I never exactly had a role model growing up. I motivated myself to do what I wanted to.

6. How hard or easy was it to get into college?

Getting into college was actually rather easy for me- I had very good grades and a good number of extracurriculars and skills, and I eventually chose to go to Goucher College, as they offered me a full-tuition scholarship. I’m very lucky and grateful to have gotten through college for free.

7. Why medicine?

I always loved medicine. When I was little, my parents would buy me science books and encyclopedias, and I loved learning about how the human body works and what makes it sick, and how to cure it. I learned a lot about diseases too- and I just got so interested in it that I decided I wanted to be a doctor.

8. How long did it take you to apply and get accepted?

The entire application process for medical school takes about a year. In my final semester of college (January-May 2016), I started gathering transcripts from my colleges and letters of recommendation from the people around me, mostly professors. I also took the MCAT exam in April, after several months of studying and preparation (I started studying in December). I submitted my primary application as soon as it opened, in June- and then secondaries began to arrive in the next three months. After that, I had to wait a few more months until schools reviewed my secondaries and offered interviews. Interviews were in the fall and winter, and then there was another wait period to find out if I’d actually been accepted. In mid/late spring, I started hearing back from the schools I interviewed at, and on May 2nd, I got accepted into medical school. 

9. How many people helped/supported you with your application? And how did they help you?

I had to work very closely with my professors to put together a good application- my pre-medical committee at my college helped a lot by providing letters of recommendation and putting together a composite letter. They also advised me on which schools best suited my interests and desires, and helped me figure out what kinds of information I should be putting onto my application, and how to write a compelling series of personal statements.

10. What would you say to your 16-year-old self? Something that you know now, that you wish would have known back then.

I would definitely say study harder. I had pretty good grades, but for medical school, you need the best of the best. A “B” usually isn’t good enough, and I would tell my younger self to study much harder to push some of the Bs I had up into As in college, so I had better choices when it came time to apply. The better your qualification, the better your chance of acceptance (and the better your chance of receiving medical scholarship!).

11. Any other comments?

For any students wanting to go into medicine, I would say, the sooner you start planning and looking into things, the better. It’s a very intense process and requires a lot of work and organization and coordination with people in your professional and academic sphere, and the earlier you get everything organized, the less stressful it will be to apply, and the more likely you will be to get accepted. Work hard and don’t give up!

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