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My Unconventional Journey to Medicine: A Gen Z Odyssey

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

Hey there, fellow overachievers and victims of imposter syndrome! Buckle up, because I’m about to take you on a rollercoaster ride through my life—a life filled with unexpected twists, undeniable determination, and a big dash of fun. Welcome to my not-so-ordinary journey towards becoming a healer of hearts and bodies, all while navigating the quirks of being a Gen Z trailblazer.

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Picture this: I kicked off my life with a 23-day luxurious stay at the hospital, a grand entrance for sure! Born with hydrocephalus and gastroschisis, I started life with a set of challenges, setting the stage for what was to come (headaches and surgeries dragging me along life). I grew up surrounded by doctors, nurses, hospitals, and clinics. Appointment after appointment, I became unironically fond of the hospital, to the point where I would fake getting sick to go get admitted in the emergency room. (Talk about theatrics). Besides that growing obsession with attention and medical care, I always had my worried mom by my side close to coming off her hinges due to me and my conditions. Even so, as time passed, I began to visit hospitals and doctors less and less, only going for my yearly checkups, but growing up in such an environment just ignited something in me.

Fast forward to the pivotal moment of early teens when my beloved grandma left us. In that somber moment, I made a promise to her: I pledged to embrace success, chase my wildest dreams, and let nothing hold me back. Grandma was the ultimate OG, and her spirit of adventure lives on in me. By then, my only real complaints in life were my lack of social skills

and recon loss. So, I set myself a mission: in that year, I was going to face my fears and join at least one club at high school. Anything to get me going and show grandma I meant business. And so my journey began, flashback to my military school days, where leadership was practically my middle name. Picture me, the weird kid with a penchant for taking charge, rallying the troops, and making things happen. Leadership wasn’t just about bossing people around, it was about lifting them up, inspiring them to be the best versions of themselves, and ultimately,  growing myself as a person. 

When I was nearing the end of my high school career, I knew two things for certain: I lived to help others and be a leader, and I also thrived in the idea of spending the vast majority of my life inside a clinic or hospital. And what does that make a recipe for? I’ll tell you: an anxious, overwhelming, stressful, and scary path towards ✨pre-med✨ the oh-so-wonderful title us kids that like to condone ourselves to suffering for approval and potential status like to take. Was I ready for the endless classes, studying, tears, sweat, headaches—did I say tears?—to come? There I was, applying to college, ready to begin this journey that I had barely any knowledge of, but I knew one thing for certain—as soon as I got into college, I was going to find all the clubs and organizations I could join and continue my journey as a leader. 

That’s when I discovered the joy of volunteering—it’s a whole vibe! Helping others became my jam, the ultimate way of spreading good vibes and making a difference. I realized early on that my calling lay in understanding the mysteries of the human body, why it does what it does, and how I could use that knowledge to help people, especially kiddos who’ve faced challenges just like me. I’ve spent three agonizing but exciting years in college full of volunteer work, secession shadowing, hospital work, donations and teaching others. Even if it’s been full of stress and agony, it’s been mainly fulfilling. I’ve been able to learn and help those in need. I never thought I’d be able to have these amazing opportunities without even stepping foot into medical school yet. Each year that passes, my love for what I want to be only grows. 

One of the defining moments in my journey has been my immersive volunteer work at the children’s hospital, where I dedicated my time to working closely with kids from child services. Stepping into their world, a world they’ve known predominantly within the hospital walls, was a transformative experience. It was here that the fabric of my empathy and determination in medicine was woven. Interacting with these brave young souls, facing their own medical challenges, allowed me to glimpse into their lives, understand their stories, and connect with their journeys on a profound level. It struck me that many of these kids bore conditions similar to my own. This realization was both sobering and emotionally stirring, igniting a strange yet powerful sense of empathy within me.

Witnessing their resilience and the innocent smiles they managed to conjure, even in the face of adversity, left an indelible mark on my heart. I couldn’t help but recognize how our shared experiences bound us together in a unique way. I felt a strange sense of pain, knowing intimately what they were enduring. Yet, it was this pain that fueled my determination to bring joy and comfort to their lives, much like the joy and comfort I had sought during my own medical journey. These children, despite their trials, displayed an unmatched spirit and courage. They became a source of inspiration, reminding me daily of why I had chosen this path in medicine. Through our interactions, I began to learn not only about their medical conditions but also about the human spirit’s capacity for hope and resilience. It affirmed my resolve to become a healer, to advocate for these children and others like them, and to strive to make a difference in their lives.

I choose medicine because I want to be that person that gets to give it their all to save a life, to make a smile, and lead with grace. I want to be the same type of person that saved my life countless times. I want to be the type of person that fails and gets back up to try again and again until there is nothing left to give. I want to bring smiles, joy, and love into this world. I want grandma to look down on me and know I’m working as hard as I possibly can to achieve all those plans I told her about. This entire adventure has been one emotional rollercoaster, filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, and a lot of heartfelt promises. Through it all, I’ve stayed true to my promise to grandma. Every step of the way, I’ve held on to the belief that with grit, determination, and a splash of laughter, dreams are achievable.

So here I am, ready to dive into the world of medicine, armed with the power of youth, the knowledge of the past, and the unwavering desire to make the world a better, healthier place. Join me as we flip the script, debunk the myths, and embrace the thrilling, emotional ride of chasing dreams in true Gen Z fashion! 

P.S. Having half your head shaven at 20 years old for a replacement surgery was definitely not part of the plan.

Hi! My name is Alanis Hilario, but I prefer to go my Lani. I’m a fun loving and curious Aquarius who loves the outdoors and spending time with my loved ones. I am currently coursing my bachelor’s degree in the university of Puerto Rico, rio piedras campus, majoring in interdisciplinary studies of natural sciences with the dream of some day becoming a pediatric doctor in the army. I love to write, paint and listen to music. My favorite artist being Joji and pierce the veil. I’m a super shy person and fun fact is I’ve been writing stories ever since I was a little kid ! Everything aside, I’m so excited to get to know this community and grow as a writer!