After my 3rd day of Welcome Week as a newly trained peer advisor, my mentee happily announced, “I think I want to be a peer advisor next year. I love this place!” I laughed at this sudden proclamation, well before classes had even started, but I wasn’t surprised by his rapid sense of belonging to this place I call home, the Health Sciences Scholars Program. Even though it has been more than 500 days since I first walked in to Couzens Hall as a first-year, the magic this community holds continues to bring a spark of amazement to my eyes; a spark kindled by my mentee when he expressed love for HSSP before even experiencing the opportunities this program had yet to behold.

Before I arrived at HSSP for my freshman year, I was a little concerned with what I was getting myself into. Several of my peers in high school urged me to reconsider whether or not I wanted to join a pre-health community, after hearing rumors of the cutthroat pre-med culture. However, those stories could not have been further from the truth. I have never come across a more compassionate group of people who genuinely care for each other’s well-being. Whether it’s the line-up of tissues and cough drops from hallmates when I unfortunately fall ill or the ten supportive text messages wishing me luck before the Orgo exam that I am dreading, I am constantly surprised by how privileged I am to have such a strong support system. The happiness emanating from HSSP is so contagious that even my friends who are not pre-health wish that they belonged to this community.

Transitioning to my sophomore year, I was worried about the newfound responsibility of taking care of my mentees: what if they didn’t need any of my help, or worse, despised my cheeriness and only wished for me to go away? However, my concern immediately dissipated when hearing those words from my mentee on the 3rd day of Welcome Week. Not only have I learned from the wonderful first-years how to master the art of meme-making and played a good-hearted game of ultimate frisbee amidst falling snow, I can undeniably say that I have absorbed a tremendous amount of wisdom from them and gained several of my best friends. Nothing makes me happier than receiving a thank you card noting that they successfully survived chemistry, reading their job offer after working diligently on revising that resume, or observing the immense emotion from them finally realizing the career path they are set upon to embark. Their success is my success. Having the opportunity to witness their immense growth into intellectually driven, empowered individuals has been by far the most rewarding opportunity of my undergraduate career, and I will forever cherish what they have taught me.

Coming into HSSP, I was expecting to receive confirmation that this trek to becoming a physician was indeed the right one for me to venture, and to ultimately discover resources for pre-health students. Yet, I leave this community having learned so much more.