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Undergrad

The short and sweet version?

I was a pre-med who double-majored in Exercise Biology and Music Performance whilst working 3 part-time jobs, helping to run 2 clubs and volunteering all over the place. Keep reading for a summary of my four years at UC Davis!

I covered my living expenses through working at the music library, teaching piano, being the music department’s accompanist, and volunteering myself as a research subject for a crap ton of different studies. This was one of the unpaid ones, because I love EXB.

Freshmen Year
I originally started my undergrad studies at Davis because I wanted to be a vet, but this eventually changed as I realized that as a vet, I’d probably end up having to put down a lot of animals, and in many instances, the reasoning could be as measly as the owner not wanting to bother with taking care of them anymore. I can’t, for the life of me, bring myself to do that, so as time went on, I kept my options open. I’d entered as a Biological Sciences major, so I had a world of choices in front of me. On the first day of fall quarter of 2006 (my first quarter at Davis), I found out that if I took the 3 co-requisite courses, I’d be considered as a music major despite not actually declaring it as a major.

As a music major, the school would pay for your instrument lessons.

My brother is a big advocate of “getting your money’s worth,” and I gotta come clean here: I am cut from the same cloth. Since I didn’t have to pay by the unit, I could take however many classes I wanted per quarter as long as (1) it was under 25 units and (2) I didn’t go over the 225 unit cap by the end of my fourth year. I didn’t want to let music out of my life, so I decided to go for it. I talked one of my professors into letting me take the classes for no units so I’d run less of a chance of hitting the unit cap and from thereon out, I committed academic suicide (>20 units + everything else I was doing) every quarter.

During winter break of my freshmen year, my family got sandwiched in a giant car accident, which is how I found myself lying on a stretcher off the side of a freeway the night before NYE. This was also the predominant reason as to why my grandma ended up in the hospital again, and ultimately she never left. I spent part of my spring break spending time with her in the hospital and was overwhelmed by how helpless I felt. I knew absolutely nothing in terms of what was going on and what I could do. The only thing I could do was translate for her. This was really what served as the last trigger that sent me back to wanting to pursue something in the medical field.

Academic Courses

  • Calculus for Biological Sciences (1 year) – MAT 17ABC
  • General Chemistry (1 year) – CHE 2ABC
  • Keyboard Competence (1 year, but it took me 1 quarter + 2 weeks) – MUS 2ABC
  • Elementary Music Theory (1 year) – MUS 6ABC
  • Elementary Musicianship (1 year) – MUS 16ABC
  • Gospel Choir (2 quarters) – AAS/MUS 154
  • Historical Experience of Asian Americans (1 quarter) – ASA 1
  • Intro to Music History: Baroque & Classical (1 quarter) – MUS 24A
  • Music 24B (Intro to Music History: Romantic) – MUS 24B
  • Private Lessons: Piano (2 quarters) – MUS 131B

Extracurriculars

  • Na Keiki ‘O Hawai’i (UCD Hawai’i Club) Dancer
  • Polynesian Dance (Experimental College)
  • Brazilian Dance (Experimental College)
  • Core Fitness (Experimental College)
  • Beginning Riding (UCD Equestrian Center)
  • [Music Department] Accompanist
Advanced Tahitian

Advanced Tahitian

Sophomore Year
So began the most miserable year of my undergraduate existence. Don’t get me wrong; I love Davis more than most, but organic chemistry was and always will be the bane of my existence. No other course (other than perhaps cell biology) has ever invoked as many feelings of doom and despair as this one, and no other course has ever seriously made me want to bike in front of a bus. (This was after the second midterm of my second quarter of ochem. I didn’t do it because the bus wasn’t going fast enough. I wish I could tell you I was kidding about this, but I’m really not.) I’m glad I didn’t though. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but this year really was a major, major struggle for me.

I went to a pre-health conference in Sacramento and was re-inspired/re-motivated to work hard at everything despite how abysmally ochem was going. I also made it a point to start looking for internships/volunteer opportunities since it occurred to me that I had zilch. I’d volunteered all throughout high school and not having it around anymore definitely wasn’t contributing to my quality of life. I applied for an internship in the fall at PHAC, but was rejected because I completely bombed the interview. Bombed because I almost started crying because some of the questions they asked me revolved around my grandma, and losing her still cut pretty deep, so my answers definitely weren’t as wonderful as they could have been.

But I like to think that what matters most when you’re knocked down is your ability to get back up. I re-applied in the spring though and blew my interview away. 😀 I also passed my juries in the spring so that I could officially be considered a music performance major. 😀 (I’m sure the fact that I was the accompanist for four other student juries before I actually made it to my own jury may have helped.)

By the end of this year, I’d already accumulated the minimum number of units to graduate (if you took into consideration my AP units), but had barely taken any upper division courses yet, so obviously, I couldn’t really.

Academic Courses

  • Organic Chemistry (1 year) – CHE 118ABC
  • General Biology (1 year) – BIS 1ABC (as far as I know, it’s now “BIS 2ABC”)
  • Intermediate Theory (1 year) – MUS 7ABC
  • Intermediate Musicianship (1 year) – MUS 17ABC
  • Intro to Music History: Contemporary (1 quarter) – MUS 24C
  • Beginning Conducting (1 quarter) – MUS 113
  • Private Lessons: Piano (1 year) – MUS 131B
  • Beginning Gymnastics/Tumbling (1 quarter) – PHE 1
  • Health Care for Under-served Populations (1 quarter) – FAP 195
  • Introduction to Literature (1 quarter) – ENL 3
  • Applied Group Study: Voice (1 quarter) – MUS 198
  • Social and Psychological Perspectives of Asian Americans (1 quarter) – ASA 3

Extracurriculars

  • Na Keiki ‘O Hawai’i Secretary/Dancer
  • Dames & Fellas A Capella Secretary
  • The Voice (Undergraduate Health Journal) Layout/Copy Editor
  • [Music Department] Accompanist
  • Music Librarian Assistant
  • Beginning Sewing (Craft Center)
  • Belly Dancing (ARC)

Summer in Between

Originally, I’d planned to take the last of the Asian American Studies series (ASA 2), but the professor was a terribly bitter and horribly insulting individual, so I dropped it. (It’s the only class I’ve ever dropped.)

I started volunteering at a hospital in Sacramento and started my internship at Paul Hom Asian Clinic, which I probably have mentioned before, but basically, it’s a student-run clinic completely staffed by volunteers (undergrads, med students, physicians, etc.). I worked as an interpreter since most of our patient population could only speak Cantonese. In so doing, I got to take vitals, assist with blood draws, urine tests, lab interpretations, patient interviews, patient examinations…this is where my love for practical knowledge/knowledge application comes from. Volunteering at PHAC was easily one of my most valuable experiences in Davis (and really just life in general), and I’m still thankful every day for it. I miss the patients there and would love to go back there to volunteer again in the future.

Presenting about osteoporosis (that's a trap poster about menopause) at a PHAC health fair.

Presenting about osteoporosis (that’s a trap poster about menopause) at a PHAC health fair.

Academic Courses

  • General Physics (2 quarters) – PHY 7AB
  • Applied Statistics for Biological Sciences (1 quarter) – STA 100
  • Social Problems (1 quarter) – SOC 3

Extracurriculars

  • Paul Hom Asian Clinic Patient Advocate/Interpreter
  • Shriners Hospital for Children-Northern California Therapeutic Recreation/Child Life Volunteer
  • Music Librarian Assistant
  • [Music Department] Accompanist
  • Work Exchange Program at UCD Equestrian Center (aka work there in exchange for riding lessons)
Sea Bass (one of my favorite horses from the UCD Equestrian Center)!

Sea Bass (one of my favorite horses from the UCD Equestrian Center)!

Junior Year

This was easily one of the best years of my life. (Further proof that life gets infinitely better after ochem ends.) I sent my dean three petitions in the fall:

  1. To declare music performance as my second major
  2. To change my original major to Exercise Biology
  3. To allow me to surpass the 225 unit cap.

With the third, I wrote a half-pleading mini-essay explaining that I absolutely adored the subjects I was studying and really wanted to be able to major in both. He approved everything in December (best Christmas present ever!) and basically gave me free reign to take however the hell many classes I wanted to take, so long as I promised to graduate in 4 years. (Done deal!)

Of these, I think biomechanics was the biggest struggle, mainly because I couldn’t take the prerequisite (exercise physiology) beforehand, and hadn’t taken the suggested non-prerequisite (anatomy) for it yet. I was also pretty overjoyed to be done with physics. Of all the science courses required for application to medical school, biology is the only one I liked. Sad but true.

I also audited a couple courses. If you haven’t noticed a trend here, I had a tendency to keep picking up hobbies/extracurriculars and never drop the previous ones. (What can I say? I like keeping busy.)

VitaminWater would often donate cases of drinks to us. :D

VitaminWater would often donate cases of drinks to us. 😀

Academic Courses

  • General Physics (1 quarter) – PHY 7C
  • Genes & Gene Expression + Discussion (1 quarter) – BIS 101
  • Computer & Electronic Music (1 quarter) – MUS 107A
  • Private Lessons: Piano (3 quarters) – MUS 131B
  • Chamber Music (4 groups) – MUS 146
  • Archery (2 quarters) – PHE 1
  • Abs/Back Conditioning (2 quarters) – PHE 1
  • Intermediate Chinese (2 quarters) – CHN 5/6
  • Introduction to Motor Learning & the Pyschology of Sport & Exercise (1 quarter) – EXB 102
  • History of Western Music: Middle Ages to 1600 (1 quarter) – MUS 124A
  • History of Western Music: 1600-1750 (1 quarter) – MUS 124B
  • Systemic Physiology (1 quarter) – NPB 101
  • Beginning Gymnastics/Tumbling (1 quarter) – PHE 1
  • Structure & Function of Biomolecules (1 quarter) – BIS 102
  • Analysis & Control of Human Movement (1 quarter) – EXB 103

Extracurriculars

  • Paul Hom Asian Clinic Patient Advocate/Interpreter
  • Shriners Hospital for Children-Northern California Therapeutic Recreation/Child Life Volunteer
  • Na Keiki ‘O Hawai’i Secretary/Dancer
  • Dames & Fellas A Capella Secretary
  • The Voice (Undergraduate Health Journal) Layout/Copy Editor
  • Music Librarian Assistant
  • [Music Department] Accompanist

Summer in Between

Um. This was a very rough summer for personal reasons I’d rather not get into. I was pretty depressed, but tried really hard to not let on how I was feeling so I could just trudge through everything. Although I didn’t fail cell bio, I did do terribly enough that I was actually allowed to retake it in the fall. Terrible times.

I also lost my job at the library due to budget cuts murdering my position. My boss really liked me though, so she managed to fight for my position to remain until the end of summer. <3

Academic Courses

  • Systemic Physiology Lab (1 quarter) – NPB 101L
  • Cell Function & Regulation (1 quarter) – BIS 104

Extracurriculars

  • Paul Hom Asian Clinic Patient Advocate/Interpreter
  • Shriners Hospital for Children-Northern California Therapeutic Recreation/Child Life Volunteer
  • Music Librarian Assistant
  • [Music Department] Accompanist
  • Piano Teacher
Volunteering at a wine auction for PHAC.

Volunteering at a wine auction for PHAC.

Senior Year

Truth be told, I buried myself into work to take my mind off other things. It worked miraculously well and I did about the most severe upward trend for my grades that I could’ve managed, given the workload I put on myself. This did come with major sacrifices though, namely time spent with my best friends–I sometimes went for days without seeing any of them despite the fact that we lived together, because I’d be gone before they woke up and back after they were already asleep. Once upon a time, I forgot my bag of food for the day at home and had to race home between classes to get it. They heard my voice downstairs and we ran to hug each other on the staircase. In winter quarter, they took NUT 10 just so they could see me. <3

Outside of my major (EXB + music) courses, anatomy was my favorite course at Davis. I learned a ton from it (most of which I managed to either retain or quickly brush up on for med school) and it’s basically what helped me get through anatomy in med school without studying for it very much. I used that background to help teach my friends here and they found it infinitely helpful. :]

Although I started thinking about switching to going for becoming a nurse practitioner instead of med school throughout junior year and the summer afterward, I ultimately decided against it, because my reasoning for switching wasn’t sound enough. Part of it was that I was scared that I would fail if I tried for med school and the fact that the MCAT tested on everything I was the absolute worst at, how was there any way that I could make it in?

(If you never try though, how will you ever know for sure that you can’t?)

I’m glad I didn’t give up.

Pu'ili sticks!

Pu’ili sticks!

Academic Courses

  • Exercise Physiology (1 quarter) – EXB 101
  • General Psychology (1 quarter) – PSC 1
  • Bioenergetics & Metabolism (1 quarter) – BIS 103
  • Cell Function & Regulation (1 quarter) – BIS 104
  • Human Gross Anatomy + Lab (1 quarter) – CHA 101/L
  • Environmental Effects on Physical Performance (1 quarter) – EXB 111
  • Exercise Biology Lab (1 quarter) – EXB 104L
  • Growth & Development in Human Performance (1 quarter) – EXB 113
  • Exercise & Aging in Health & Disease (1 quarter) – EXB 117
  • Sport Psychology (1 quarter) – EXB 121
  • Psychological Effects of Physical Activity (1 quarter) – EXB 122
  • Discoveries & Concepts in Nutrition (1 quarter) – NUT 10
  • Private Lessons: Piano (3 quarters) – MUS 131B
  • Orchestration (1 quarter) – MUS 108A
  • Senior Project (1 quarter) – MUS 195 (aka my senior recital)
  • Chamber Music (3 groups) – MUS 146
  • Applied Group Study: Voice (2 quarters) – MUS 198
  • Beginning Gymnastics/Tumbling (1 quarter) – PHE 1
  • Aerobics/Kickboxing (2 quarters) – PHE 1

 

With my piano teacher! <3 I miss her lots!

With my piano teacher!

Extracurriculars

  • Paul Hom Asian Clinic Patient Advocate/Interpreter
  • Shriners Hospital for Children-Northern California Therapeutic Recreation/Child Life Volunteer
  • Sutter Davis Hospital Volunteer (ER Receptionist, ICU, Medical Records)
  • Na Keiki ‘O Hawai’i Secretary/Dancer
  • The Voice (Undergraduate Health Journal) Layout/Copy Editor
  • [Music Department] Accompanist
  • Piano Teacher
ucdmusicgradcaps

If you look reallyyyy closely, that spells out “UCD Music.” :]

rachelfarrahgraducd

Rachel/me at our graduation! :]

Jaclyn made graduation pillows for our chamber trio! Mine has a piano-key border; hers has oboes and Rachel's has french horns. :D

Jaclyn made graduation pillows for our chamber trio! Mine has a piano-key border; hers has oboes and Rachel’s has french horns. 😀

I discovered upon filling out my medical school applications that I took over 110 classes while I was at Davis. haha, oops!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.fairyburger.com/about/undergrad/

2 comments

1 ping

  1. A.K.

    What advice would you have for an undergrad pre-med, psych, mental health & neurosci student who is committed to getting accepted in a competitive program such as diagnostics, family medicine or pathology? There were quite a few semesters which turned out terribly however during the most recent three things have really started turning around with nothing lower then a B+ in most cases.

    1. Farrah

      I didn’t do the best in some of my science classes either (mainly chemistry and organic chemistry :[ ), but I had a definite upward trend going on, which I think helped. My advise would be to do really well in your upper division courses, your MCAT, and get strong letters of recommendation from professors who really know you and can write something more than just the generic “was this rank in my class and earned this grade.” Research and volunteer experience would also help, as would doing some kind of work or volunteering in a hospital or clinic where you get to work directly with patients! Also think about where you want to apply to (e.g. only in the U.S., both DO or MD schools, etc.?), as that’ll also affect what you’ll want to focus on and/or get more experience in! (For instance, MD schools will average your two grades if you retake a course and they tend to look more heavily at research whereas DO schools will replace a class with the better grade if you retake and they seem to look more into more well-rounded students with less focus/importance placed on research). This post might also help: http://www.fairyburger.com/10-tips-for-premeds/!

      If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know! I’ll try to get back to you in a timely manner!

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