I shrugged my shoulders and followed my friend’s quickened steps. I desperately tried to pretend that I wasn’t gasping for breath by the first corner.
“Are you OK?”
“Yeah, I just forgot to use my inhaler. I’m not going to die, it just takes longer for me to warm up without it”.
“Great - that means I get to do the talking and you get to listen. Lots of people get rejected at least once. Veterinary medicine is competitive and you have the credentials to get in, you just need to keep trying”.
I managed a single “ah” between heavy breaths. How is it that my complexion looks like a ripe tomato at all times during and after exercise, and Jessica’s skin is always a radiant tan?
This morning I had gotten my official rejection letter from the last school I had applied to and was waiting to here from. An email actually. Apparently that’s how things are done nowadays. I was wait-listed at my school of choice, but at #42 at a top ranked school, it was doubtful I would get in. According to the administration office, typically only the top 20 or so wait-listed students end up getting a spot.
“Molly, are you listening to me? Are you ready for the next application cycle? You are a good candidate and should absolutely re-apply”
She should know - she had written me a glowing letter reference. By some cruel twist of fate, rejections come in April/May, just in time to start the application process all over again in June, with applications due at the end of summer in September. I had a whole whopping three months to make myself a more desirable candidate according to the selection committee’s unknown algorithm that chooses the incoming class of vet students from among the thousands of equally qualified and interesting candidates.
“I don’t know what to do, Jessica”, I said between gasping breathes between strides. “I feel like if my current experience didn’t get me into school, three more months of the same certainly isn’t going to help.
“You want my advice? Find something that interests you this summer and go for it - regardless of how applicable to “vet medicine” you think it is. What sets you apart from the other candidates isn’t going to be stellar grades or long volunteer hours or how much you care about animals. At this point everyone has demonstrated they can succeed academically or in a clinic. Instead, go do something different, enjoy yourself, and attempt to be a more interesting person.”
We slowed to a walk as we entered the gym for our weekly racket ball session.
Jessica held the door open for me and then stopped me half way through.
“Molly - I’m serious. I've decided this is your last week in the clinic - you’ve worked hard for two years with me and you are right. Three more months isn’t going to significantly improve your application. As of this week you are officially free to enjoy a summer adventure.”
I nodded. Jessica had started in a local clinic as a new DVM graduate two years ago and when the clinic owner had let me volunteer as a favor to a friend, Jessica had immediately taken me under her wing. It was because of her that I had finally decided for certain I wanted to become a veterinarian.
“Fine”, I said smiling, “I’ll start applying for that adventure immediately - does one write a ‘wanted’ ad for this sort of thing? ‘Three month adventure wanted - must be completed by end of August with no lasting bodily harm. Animal-related adventures preferred’”.
Jessica rolled her eyes and laughed.
I passed my card over the desk and told the clerk “Court #2, two rackets and a ball please”.