for Healthcare Education
at Miami University
Video: The Essential Mallory Wilson Center
Featuring Prashant Rajan (Miami 2013)
majors in biochemistry and zoology
(In this video Prashant Rajan, the Ken & Joan Frankel Outstanding Premedical Student of the Year , recipient, talks about undergraduate research, the significance of his award, why Mallory-Wilson plays an important role for pre-med and pre-health students, and why a liberal arts degree matters. In 2012, Prashant received a Goldwater Scholarship and was also awarded an Astronaut Scholarship.)
"Some of the best experiences that I've had at Miami have undoubtedly been in the field of research. I think Miami has allowed me the opportunity to really go out and find some faculty who have been doing some tremendous work, and you know the Miami campus is so open that I can literally go to a faculty advisor's office and sit down and have a conversation with him or her during the middle of the day. I'm sure he or she has a whole list of things to do but the faculty here is willing to take time out of their schedules to meet you with you, to talk with you, and to be able to sort of foster that dynamic between student and faculty.
"And so, being able to do that, I was able to take advantage of some amazing research opportunities in the field of biochemistry. I worked with the department of biochemistry on a project on HIV actually and I worked with a lot of the scientific and molecular aspects of the virus to sort of better understand how it interacts with our body and is able to do the things that it does ultimately to the disease AIDS. Working with some of those insights has really sort of fostered, and really fed, my passion for medicine and science and research. But ultimately, it's allowed me to hone a lot of other skills — being able to communicate to people my research findings; being able to write about my findings in a way that lay people can understand as well, not just people who are within the academic or scientific settings; and being able to grow and expand upon the findings that I've discovered and in order to sort of become my own independent thinker. So, undoubtedly my best experiences have been in research.
"But that's not necessarily the only way. I still find that student organizations are a great way to communicate with fellow students — be able to meet people who have similar ideals or similar backgrounds or similar interests. I was very involved with the honors program here at Miami which really allowed me to be part of a community where I could interact with individuals who are similar to me in terms of my interests, such as my values, both in a residential perspective and a professional perspective as well. Undoubtedly the community here at Miami really allows for that. A lot of the experiences, whether it's in research, whether it's in student activities, student organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or pre-professional organizations. For example, one that I was in was Miami-Med for medical education development. So whether you're in a pre-professional club, a social club, or the honors program, or you're just looking for research opportunities, I feel like there are so many chances here, so many opportunities and avenues for growth and development that really anyone can take advantage if they just look for them.
"Why this award is important to me, personally, is that it represents a cumulative experience for me, it sort of tells me that the path I've been on for the past four years has been the one that's right for me. A lot of people enter their careers — or their career paths — not knowing whether this is the right path for them, whether it's the right career choice for them, and many people do end up switching later on in their lives; trying to discover that one thing that they're passionate about. But for me, I was just lucky to be able to find the one thing in my life that I'm passionate about very early on in my college career. And everything that I've done in college, whether through research, whether through classwork, or whether through social or student activities, has sort of culminated in this career in the field of medicine, and I feel personally that this award is sort of an affirmation of that culmination. I feel that it's telling me that this is the career path for me and that my passions have allowed me to really mature into someone who can go out into the field of medicine and be someone who is a productive member of the medical field and maybe do some really great things as well. So, I'm very appreciative of that fact. I realize it's something that not a lot of people have the opportunity to be able to find their career so quickly in their lives. For me, I'm just lucky and I'm incredibly grateful and appreciative of that, undoubtedly.
"And, another aspect of this award, is the fact that Mr. Frankel was the one who was able to provide it for us and it's so great to see an alumnus of Miami University come back and give back to the community. It sort of affirms that the Mallory-Wilson Center is sort of the centralized presence that students need, and as for Mr. Frankel, it seems to have been something that touched his life very initimately, very strongly and just as it has for me as well. And so it's something that we can all appreciate — both Mr. Frankel and myself, and the entire Miami community in general. I feel like the Mallory-Wilson Center is something that has allowed us to pursue our goals — pursue our careers — we are forever indebted and appreciative of that, so I feel like coming back and giving that award to the Mallory-Wilson community, to the students, and ultimately to me, shows that when I go out into the future world and become that doctor, become that member of the medical community, that I too can look back, look back at my my experiences at Miami University and Mallory-Wilson Center and be to provide the same support that Mr. Frankel was able to provide me.
"So, liberal arts, I feel, contributes greatly to my education. I think when you look at it from an interdisciplinary standpoint, medicine, which is my field specifically, you typically think of as very scientific, logical, mathematical, in a sense, but I feel like it integrates so many other things. You have to think about — the communicative aspect — you have to be able to talk to people, to relate to people. People also would have to think about the ability to logically think through your ideas, that's critical thinking, that's typically learned in English classes or literary classes. And then, different special topics that people would talk about on a daily basis: history, politics ... as a physician you're dealing with people, and people have to understand that perspective, that at the end of the day, life is about people, no matter what type of job you're in, no matter what type of career you're really trying to orient yourself towards, at the end of the day, it's to do a service to people and you have to be able to relate to people at the end of the day.
"And so, being able to integrate so many different fields into your vision, so many different languages, so many different historical perspectives, cultural perspectives. I think that it's important to be able to get a broad range of those values that you can then communicate and share those ideas and values to the people you're ultimately working with in your career. So, from a scholastic standpoint, absolutely, the liberal arts just contributes greatly to one's career, no matter what you’re going into.
"Why I think Mallory-Wilson is important to the pre-health or to the pre-medical students here at Miami specifically, is because it provides you guidance, provides you advising. I think when you're coming in as a freshman, the idea of applying to medical school, or applying to a pre-health pre-professional program, is very daunting. You have a whole list of accomplishments, or a whole list of things that you need to accomplish, and you need to be able to take care of them in a timely and efficient manner but also in a manner that's sufficient enough that you may gain acceptance to these programs.
"But I think another thing that it really allows you to do is be part of a community; it allows you to interact with other premedical students and allows you to share those perspectives with students who are similar to you. Whether it's the PMD — the premedical studies class, where everyone comes together and learns how to apply to medical school — or whether you're meeting Mr. Balfour in his office with other students and trying to bounce ideas off of him — what are the best ways to study for the MCAT, what are the best ways to apply to medical school? I think the Mallory-Wilson Center allows sort of a centralized presence in the Miami community that allows Miami students to come together, but also Miami advisors and faculty.
"Probably my best experience with Mallory-Wilson has been with the Mallory-Wilson Premedical Advisory Committee, which essentially allowed me to apply to medical school, really sort of set the stage for my medical career by bringing together faculty who could endorse my accomplishments and write me letters of recommendation, and then subsequently compiling those letters together in a committee format and being able to submit them to medical schools; to be able to display my accomplishments and my goals as well ... that's one of the best things about the Center, is the committee, and it's full of faculty who come from so many different departments — coming together from engineering, from zoology, from chemistry ... that it harkens back to the interdisciplinary aspect of pre-medical studies and how different perspectives have to integrate in order for medical education to occur. And so, when it comes to the Mallory-Wilson Center, there's community, there's advising, and the final point is that there is scholarship. I think that the Mallory-Wilson Center has provided unbelievable support for me, financially, specifically. I've been able to apply for various scholarships, whether for my scholastic purposes, for being able to attend this institution, or for personal as well, being able to support my research, whether here at Miami or elsewhere. I think that overall, when we sort of look at the community, and the advising, and the scholarship, the Mallory-Wilson Center is almost essential for the pre-medical students here. It allows for that centralized presence that really encourages us as we begin this path; it's very daunting, but a very rewarding path as well."