Kate Rochowicz is a second-year Honors student at Loyola, majoring in Cognitive/Behavioral Neuroscience with a Spanish Language minor, on a pre-medical track. Outside of classes, she shadows the head of Neurosurgery at RUSH hospital, volunteers at a hospital, and works as an certified EMT. When she was in the 2nd grade, she came home from school one afternoon and told her mother that she wanted to be a Pediatric Neurosurgeon when she grew up. Her mom didn’t even know that her eight-year-old could even pronounce these words, let alone know that this was what she wanted to do. “My dream job has stayed the same for a long time. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was very young. When I started high school, I realized I could actually do something about it, so I started reaching out to doctors and shadowing them at hospitals.”
Kate understands that she’s lucky to know exactly what she wants to do with her life, and she recounts starting a program at her old high school in order to help students who needed guidance with figuring out their potential career paths. “In high school, my teacher and I created the EXPLORE program. It for students who were trying to figure out their future or improve their resumes. We called them HAWK talks (after the school mascot), and we’d have these business people or medical professionals come in and talk about their daily lives and offer advice to students.”
Now that she has her first-year pre-med coursework under her belt, the best advice she can offer to lower-classmen also hoping to matriculate to a medical school one day is to take advantage of the resources Loyola provides. “We have a lot of academic and social resources like pre-health advising, and especially the pre-health community, like PhiDE ( Loyola’s pre-medical fraternity) and AMSA. Having a community of people is a great support system. My big in PhiDE just finished up her applications and she was really nervous and stressed out during that whole process. Her way of relaxing about was by having her friends in the fraternity to vent about it to, because they were going through the same thing.”
A big thing that Kate hadn’t anticipated coming in to university was the difficulty of handling pre-medical and Neuroscience coursework with her extracurricular activities. “It was really tricky getting comfortable with the rigor of pre-med courses. You think of Bio 101 and 102 and it’s not as easy as high school, and you’re professor’s not as understanding as you’d hoped.” Despite these classes being extremely challenging, she loves learning the material regardless. “I don’t think I would be able to do any of this if I didn’t have so much passion for what I’m learning. There’s a lot of people who say they’re going to be doctor and they step into an emergency room and immediately realize it’s not for them. Every experience I’ve had in a hospital setting has just helped my passion grow.”
Kate’s story offers a fresh perspective into the life of a pre-med student at Loyola. If you’re reading this as an underclassman or incoming freshman hoping to apply to med schools but don’t know where to begin, try volunteering or shadowing at the local hospital, or (if you’re really willing to work for it) enroll in an EMS certification program to get some more clinical experience under your belt. You’ll never know what you like or what you’re good at until you see your potential career in action!