I spent most of middle school and high school dreaming about attending an Ivy League school.
Of the onslaught of college recruiting material that arrived during the early fall of my senior year, the most treasured and poured over where pamphlets from Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Stanford. (Okay, I know Stanford isn't technically Ivy League. But still...it's Stanford.)
I kept those particular recruiting packets long after I accepted my full-ride scholarship to the local state university.
I graduated Summa Cum Laude from my local state university, with the highest GPA earned by a female in the college of science. And I dreamed of attending medical school at UCSF, Mayo, or John Hopkins.
I applied to one medical school, and enthusiastically accepted a spot at a state medical school.
I worked hard during medical school and graduated with honors and Alpha Omega Alpha (or AOA, the national medical school honor society.) I had spent all of medical school picturing myself attending residency at Stanford (yep, there it is again), Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Mass General, or Mayo.
And then I matched into my top choice at a state program in the Midwest.
The decisions I made, compared to the ones I dreamed about, were made after weighing what was best for our family. There were times that I felt deeply disappointed. I had worked so hard, and had the ability to attend undergraduate, medical school, or residency at some of the biggest, most prestigious schools and programs in the country. But, for the good of my family (and ultimately even for the good of myself) I chose to attend less well known, more affordable state schools.
I wonder...does it really matter?
I attended public high school. I did not attend a rigourous, private, college prep school. But I still managed to get a full ride scholarship to a respected school. A state school, yes, but a good one.
I attended a state medical school. Many of my classmates had done their undergraduate at Stanford, MIT, Cal Tech, Yale, and Princeton. Those classmates had attended prestigious private programs while I had attended a state school. (And yes, I have on multiple occasions seen people say "state school" with a air of disgust or as a joke of mediocroty.) And yet, we had arrived at the same place in our lives.
I attended a state medical school, and now I attend residency along side individuals who trained at Brown, Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, and UCSF. They did go to the prestigious programs. And yet, here we are, at the same point in our lives.
I never attended any of the places that filled my academic dreams as a teenager. And yet, here I am, the initials MD behind my name.
Does it really matter where we come from?
I don't want to belittle the experience of attending an Ivy League university. The culture and surrounding probably run deep and inspire.
But in the end, does it really matter?
Because in the end, where we go depends more on who we are then where we come from.