Persistence’s Pay-off

Hard work is propelling Rachel Obimah to med school

Rachel Obimah smiles. “When you put in the effort, you get noticed.”

Obimah, a biochemistry senior in the College of Natural Sciences, always dreamed of working in health care. So she explored by taking her high school’s pre-health track, working as a pharmacy technician and on clinical rotations. During her freshman year at UT Austin, she participated in the Freshman Research Initiative, where she learned how to be a practicing scientist.

As Obimah moved from her freshman to sophomore year, everything seemed to be falling into place. She submitted her application to the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP), a special guaranteed-admission program for Texas college students planning to go to medical school.

And she didn’t get in.

Undeterred, Obimah went to CNS’ Health Professions Office, where she learned about a summer program where students of color from around the country shadow physicians and take classes at a medical school. She applied — and got wait-listed.

Figuring she’d have to spend the summer at home, Obimah emailed the program to let them know that she was still interested in participating. Her persistence paid off two weeks before the start of the session, when she got the news that she was off the waitlist and headed to start the program at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The experience was transformative.

“My experience at Howard made me so much more confident and like I had a right to be on the pre-med track — that there was a place for me,” she says. “I didn't feel like an impostor. I felt really confident in my future and going towards it.”

Back on campus, she prepared for and took her MCAT, stayed involved with the Black Health Professions Organization, served as a student leader in the Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) program, attended weekly seminars for pre-health profession students through the university’s Dell Medical School, worked as a counselor for Dell Med’s Health

Sciences Summer Camps, and, after being named as a program alternate, showed up for as much JAMP programming as she could.

Her hard work and involvement has brought her success. Obimah was fully admitted to JAMP and later the UT System’s McGovern Medical School in Houston. She’s since spent hundreds of hours shadowing physicians in Austin and Houston to understand the kind of medicine she might like to practice and the kind of doctor she wants to be.

“It feels good,” Obimah says of how much she’s accomplished since coming to UT Austin. “I feel like I belong.”