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Resilience: My Journey To Medical School

Thriving Amid Adversity




1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

I’ve never really considered myself to be resilient until I was asked the question ‘what does resilience mean to me?’ I remember starting off with “Resilience is a set of tools and behaviours that will keep you coming back - smarter, harder and stronger….”

Like most people I applied to medical school in year 13 and unfortunately did not make it to the interview stage therefore, I decided to study biochemistry for three years. Throughout my time at uni, I knew I still wanted to study medicine so continued to work towards that whilst getting a degree.

If at first you don't succeed dust yourself off and try again

My first post uni cycle was 2018 where I received an interview at one medical school but unfortunately did not get in again. This completely broke me, at the time I thought to myself ‘I have the grades, I have the work experience, I prepared fervently for the interview, what did I do wrong?’. I was told by people I know to even complete strangers to “give up on this medicine dream”, “by the time you’re finished you’ll be old, how will you find a husband”, “women should finish their education early”, “Do a masters instead”.

I knew deep down that I still wanted to peruse Medicine, even though it felt like the odds were against me, not just because I promised my mum a few weeks before her death at the age of 14, that I would be greater than her and make her proud but because deep down I knew this is what I’m passionate about and want to peruse.

I remember saying to my aunt, I’m going to keep trying to peruse my medical dream because I’d rather try and try again than give up and be unhappy doing something else. After applying to medicine again and this time not only receiving multiple interviews but offers too, I was over the moon and knew that my persistence and resilience had paid off.


Over the past two years I’ve learnt first hand what being resilient really means. Being the primary carer for my aunt whom suffered from diabetes and kidney failure, due to a failed double transplant. She had been home bound for the past two years. Despite her situation, she was always so positive and eager to push and rehabilitate herself in order to improve her progress.

The passing of my aunt a few months ago, has been really hard, not only did she teach me to keep fighting but how to be resilient. Despite being home bound for two years, she would try her best to make light of every situation, continuously praising God and encouraging me even though my battles weren’t even a tenth of what she was going through.

Ultimately, as a Christian, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without God. Me being resilient is not by my own doing but His.

‘Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’

Isaiah 40:31 NIV

I hope to be able to teach others that hardships are character builders and that changing the direction our lives set for us starts with ourselves. It is important to change our focus from causes and blame to asking ourselves what can we do about it and where do we go from here.

Follow your heart and believe in yourself. Whenever I doubt myself I remember my aunt telling me “keep striving forward, you were made for this. Don’t let anyone tell you you deserve anything less.”

Written By Jacqueline Olaifa

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