Questions to Ask in Grad School

This week marks my first week of summer break! Yay! I officially finished my first year and I am excited to finish my last year in my graduate program. Some of you who are entering your last year in your program are probably thinking about what you will be doing next. I know the feeling because I was a bit lost during my last year in undergrad. I often wondered what career would suit me and if were to apply to graduate school, which program would I apply to? Although I am uncertain about which career path I should follow, I use my love of learning and exploring the different possibilities in my career field (education). I am glad that I applied to graduate school because I believe it is the perfect opportunity to explore what I truly enjoy and passionate about, which could help me identify my potential careers. Through my previous and current graduate programs, I have learned that I want to get involved in research in the field of education. I believe that using research can help influence policy making for minority students and help open more doors to endless possibilities in higher education. As a first generation college student, I could understand the struggle in navigating college (i.e. financial aid, academic success, and career exploration). I have always been passionate about helping others, hence, why I want to help students, like myself, to succeed in higher education. I also want to become a role model and want to see more representation that is diverse in higher education to encourage young students to be in the field of education.

Below are some questions that I often use to help me figure out my next steps. (FYI – I use these every day to help remind me of my goals and my next steps in my career field).

  1. What is am I passionate about?
  2. What do I eventually what to do? / What are my career aspirations?
  3. What can I do to gain more knowledge about what I want to do in my career?
  4. What cause is important to me?
  5. What are my life goals and how can my education help achieve my life goals?
  6. How can I improve my skills to make me more marketable?
  7. How can I become a better leader and role model to others?
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How to: Summer

How to: Summer 

Welcome to another one of my posts! Summer is well under way for most of us now, tans are developing, barbecues are being used, and the beaches are packed. For those of us taking a staycation, I thought I would let you know about what’s going around locally in the DMV.

Right at the Universities at Shady Grove campus, the rec center, library, and bookstore continue to have summer hours. Useful in the event you want to work out, study, or buy your books early for the coming semester. The hours are;

Rec Center

M-F: 12 PM – 6 PM

Closed for the weekends

Priddy Library                       

M-Thursday          Friday – Saturday    Sunday

9 AM – 9 PM         9 AM – 5 PM      12 PM – 5 PM



10:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Closed for the weekends
Besides what’s going on at the USG campus, there’s tons to do around the area. Washington D.C. is conveniently metro-rail accessible, meaning you have full access to everything the city offers. Whether you walk the National Mall and see all the historic sights, or go visit the many free museums, you’ll be sure to find some way to spend your time.  

Along with the cities that dot the landscape, there are many parks within a few hours drive. Cunningham Falls is a personal favorite, complete with many trails and a nice lake for swimming. Brookside Gardens is much closer and very beautiful no matter the season. With beautiful flower arrangements and great sights, selfies are a must here. Lastly, there’s Sandy Point that offers a lot for a small park. Great place to have a barbecue and enjoy the summer breeze.


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Welcome New Students!

You must be excited to start your journey here at USG. I know I was! I could vividly remember my orientation day as an undergrad and how thrilled I was to finally start my junior year in college. As the first in my family to attend college in the US, I was not sure what I had to do to become successful in my studies. Luckily, USG provides services to students that help students achieve their academic and career goal. Knowing about the different services helped me navigate my college experience. The Center for Academic Success (CAS) helped me improve my writing and study skills, the Career and Internship Services Center (CISC) helped me explore my career path, the Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC) guided me in figuring out my career plan, and the Center for Student and Engagement and Financial Resources (CSEF) assisted me in applying for the USG Scholarship. As you can see, all of the departments contributed to my success in undergrad as well as graduate school. Therefore, I highly encourage you to take advantage of the services that they offer. For new students, I provided you some tips on how you can make the most out of your time at USG and what resources are available to you.

Things to do FIRST:

  • Get your USG ID – you will need your USG ID to access any services on campus. If you do not have this, you can go the Student and Academic Services suite and look for the Center for Student Engagement and Financial Resources (CSEF).
  • Download the USG Mobile app – This app is great because you can access all of the information that the USG website has, such as class and campus event schedules. You can download it via Google Play or the App Store.
  • Sign up for campus alerts – I find this useful especially around the winter time because they will let you know if the campus is closed or delayed due to weather conditions.

Below are some of the services that you can take advantage of during your time at USG. I have listed some of the services that they can provide you. I would suggest visiting their websites to learn more about which of their services you may be interested in. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.    


  • Writing Consultation/tutor
  • Academic Coaching (i.e. time management, organization, study tips, test taking)
  • Disability Support Services


  • Financial Aid
  • Scholarships
  • Student Organizations
  • Campus Event (i.e. Cultural Tea Time)


  • Resume Review
  • Mock Interview
  • Internship/Job Searches


  • In-take session
  • Career Counseling
  • Personal Counseling
  • Couple Counseling

Priddy Library

  • Workshop
  • Research Help
  • Snack Shack
  • Study Rooms

Office of Informal Technology (OIT)

  • Computer Log in
  • Wi-Fi Connection
  • Computer Labs
  • General Computer Questions
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To the Brave Women and Men

Hi all! Thanks for reading another one of my posts, I just wanted to say that it means a lot to me to know that my posts reach so many of you. I also wanted to say sorry for posting this so late. The auto-post mechanism does not always execute flawlessly and I’m sure my human error played a part in all this, but better late than never hopefully. I wanted this blog to be about my time doing a ride-along with the Rockville Police Department a few days ago. I decided to go on this ride-along to gain experience and insight into other fields besides medicine. I like to broaden my scope of knowledge and perspective to better understand the world around me.

Like many police departments throughout Montgomery Country, the Rockville Police Department offers ride-along opportunities to interested individuals, wherein an officer takes you on a trip through a day in their life. Being enforcers of the law is not easy, and these brave men and women lay down their lives to ensure that we can all live safe and in peace. Crazy sights are common for officers during their time on duty and you’re almost sure to see or learn something interesting during your time.

I began the process several days ago by going to the police department in Rockville, conveniently located near Rockville Town Center, there I was given a form to sign which included my contact information and availability. A few days later, I received a call from a police sergeant. The sergeant assigned me to an officer to ride with for 3 hours. Initially nothing much happened, there being officers responding to calls before we could. Eventually the officer was called in to talk to witnesses about a possible robbery. When we got there the officer spoke to the callers and he ran me through the decision-making process. It was extensive to say the less, involving evidence collection, witness testimony, notification of the proper inner departments, and deciding where a good place to find more information might be. For the sake of privacy, I won’t be going into the details of the crime but hopefully that’ll act as incentive for you to go out on a ride-along as well.

After that I decided to ask my assigned officer about himself and how he became an officer. He told me that right after high school he had enrolled with the Marines and had served for 10 years or so before deciding to settle down with his high school sweetheart. From there, he entered private security but was told by a co-worker there that the police force may be something to consider. He had originally avoided joining the police after the military, because he had worked as a military police officer and wanted a change from that field. He decided to apply and found that he loved it. He was happy to find a way to do what he loved, giving back to the community. He excelled at the police academy and went on to work with SWAT for most of his time in the force. He eventually switched to general police work to avoid the high stress job of SWAT since he was getting older and was thinking about retirement. Now he plans to do five more years before ending his time of service but does ride-alongs to inspire possible future officers.

I was impressed and wanted to share his story with his permission. I hope you all learned a bit more about what a police officer goes through in the service of others. An unpredictable and sometimes dangerous job, but someone’s got to do it. Thanks for reading!!

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Get Interested in Uninteresting Topics-Reading Strategies

This past spring, I took a class on Reading Comprehension, which surprisingly I loved (primarily because the professor was great)! Though I am not a fan of reading, this class has helped changed my perspective of reading. It also taught me helpful skills, such as using background knowledge, graphic organizers, collaborating with peers, breaking down the information, and other reading strategies, to help improve my reading comprehension. One topics that intrigued me was how to get interested in uninteresting topics, where we learned how to apply the previously mentioned strategies/skills. Reflecting on that class, I thought I could use the skills that I learned and apply them to my current summer classes. I am currently taking a research method class that focuses on statistical analysis. Many people are not interested in this topic due to its complexity (including me). This situation is typical among college students because there are prerequisite courses that we need to take to pass the class and get that degree. To help me become successful at learning in my statistics class, I plan to use the strategies below. I also thought that would be a great opportunity to share them with you so that you can use these strategies in your future classes. If you are interested in learning more about the strategies below, The Center for Academic Success provides academic coaching regarding this skill. All you need to do is set up an academic coaching appointment with them and you are set!

Reading Strategies

  • Background Knowledge – to ensure that you remember the information that you learned, it is important that you make some type of connection to the text in order to create meaning. For example, I am fortunate enough to have taken several statistic-related classes in undergrad and graduate school so I have some familiarity with the text. There are particular areas that I need help with so I may focus more on those.
  • Graphic Organizer/Effective Notetaking – I am a visual and kinesthetic learner so I need to write things down and have hands-on activities. In this case, with statistics, I would take notes from our texts and lectures, and research videos to provide me with additional information to support what I learned. As long as you have a way to organize the information that you are learning (i.e. typing note, creating diagrams, or handwriting notes), this should help you review especially when you are getting ready for your quizzes or exams.
  • Generating text-based questions – I find this helpful because I can create my own questions that can be answered through the text that I just read. This ensures that I remember the important information that I read. In addition, by creating questions, it helps you realize if you truly understand what you read.
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The Scribe Life

Scribe Life

I hope summer is treating everyone well and you all have visited the beach or pool at least once by now. I wanted to take this post to talk a little about my work as a scribe and how it has changed my way of thinking and what I want to do.

For those unfamiliar with what a medical scribe is, we are essentially notetakers for health providers. We take the patient’s history and current story and chart it into an online system. Medical charts are composed of; History of Present Illness (HPI), Review of Systems (ROS), Physical Exam (PE), Past Medical History (PMHx), any reevaluations, and disposition.

Scribes take on different roles depending on where they are employed. Some locations allow scribes to put in providers’ orders into the system for nurses and techs to fill out. Scribes can work in a variety of settings such as in the emergency department, clinics, other departments in a hospital, and private practices. I work as a ED medical scribe where we are not allowed to put in orders, just chart. The process is relatively straightforward. There is a medical system of some sort that everyone logs onto, nurses, techs, providers, medical scribes, etc. Once logged on, providers sign up for patients and now can place orders for that patient. Scribes can also see the board and see which patients the providers have signed up for, we then sign up for them too. The provider then goes to the patient’s room to talk to them about why they are here (HPI), their history (PMHx), and to conduct a physical exam. Once this is done the providers go back to their computers and the scribe begins putting the information into the system as providers put in orders for IV lines, blood work, imaging, etc. Rinse and repeat many times over in a shift.

Training to become a scribe includes learning medical terminology, mock charting, learning the differential thinking of providers, and learning what clinical signs mean. Basic anatomy is also included in the training. Training is not difficult and is invaluable for those interested in careers in healthcare. You learn a lot being a scribe and can find out if specific specialties are of interest to you. Emergency medicine is hectic but rewarding. Emergency providers know many emergency procedures and are the frontline providers when things go bad fast. They work with other specialist to provide the best care and can handle a lot on their own.

Becoming a scribe is fulfilling work and a great step in the right direction for students interested in medicine. Currently the company that holds the most scribing contracts in the area is Scribe America. Private offices have private scribes that are not affiliated with any company. Becoming a scribe starts with expressing interest to private practices or going to the Scribe America website and finding the career link. With contracts at all major hospitals in the area, Scribe America may be worth your while.

Thanks for reading and I hope this was helpful to some of you out there. Thanks to those not interested in medicine for being patient and understating. Remember to have a great summer and enjoy yourself before the fall!

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Balancing Act in Grad School

During the Memorial Day weekend, my fiancé and I moved into a new place. For those who have had the experience of moving, you know how draining the moving process can be. You have to pack strategically to ensure that none of your stuff breaks in the process and you know exactly where each box will need to go. I am thrilled that our move happened before my summer courses started because it was something that I did not have to worry about anymore. In the moving process, I was both excited and exhausted. I was excited because I was going to be living closer to work and school, but I was physically exhausted since I was the only one organizing our home (for a very good reason). Fortunately, it was a three-day weekend Memorial Day weekend so I was able to take my time to figure out how I want to arrange our new home. After several days of exhausting work, we finally settled in!

Moving reminded me of time management and planning, which I believe are significant skills to acquire in life. I have learned the importance of these skills early in graduate school due to the multiple projects and papers that we had to do each week on top of my work priorities. As a full-time employee, wedding planner (for me), as well as life manager for my soon-to-be husband and I, life can become very hectic especially when social commitments start coming in. My handy planner, Google calendar, white board (yes I have one at home), and daily task sheets have enabled me to be top of everything that is going on in our life. If you do not already have a planner or somewhere where to remind you of everything that you have to do, I would suggest giving a planner or a calendar a try as well as a daily to do list. These will help you prioritize your daily life and remember any important tasks or events that you need to attend to. If you are taking classes at USG this summer and you have spare time, stop by the Center for Academic Success and schedule an academic coaching for time management. I highly recommend setting up this appointment to get some help in organization/time management strategies that best suits you.

Overall, I was very thankful that this move happened before my classes started. Phew! To all my readers, please take the time to plan things out to avoid any unnecessary stress. We are all busy and we have many roles in life; good balancing and planning skills will take you places in life.

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What Comes Next?

What Comes After

For this blog post, I would like to take the time to focus on what comes after school for those pursuing a career in medicine. If you’re not pursuing a career in medicine, maybe you know someone that is and may be able to learn something that can help them!

There are many careers in medicine, such as becoming; a physician, nurse, nurse practioner, physician assistant, radiology tech, IV therapist, respiratory therapist, nurse tech, etc. Within nursing there are many levels of practice, from an associate’s level education all the way up to a doctorate in nursing. Some of these careers can be in different specialties, such as emergency medicine, family medicine, etc.

I will be focusing on those of us following the path of becoming a physician for this post, as that’s the one I’m on and know best. Becoming a physician starts as early as possible. While in high school, taking advanced classes, taking on extracurricular activities, and volunteering are important activities to see if you are interested in a career in medicine. I volunteered for some time at the Washington Adventist Hospital, where I got my first exposure to medicine, and loved it! Following high school, college will play a very important part on where you pursue of medicine goes. While in college it’s important to be proactive. Above all else, focus on your grades and slowly layer on different things such as volunteering, shadowing, extracurricular activities, and clinical activities. Take it nice and easy, talking from experience taking on too many things at once will cause your grades to suffer or burn you out. Know your limits and expand them over time.

After college comes the moment of truth, you have a two of choices at this stage which include, applying to medical school and taking a gap year (or two) off. Applying right away is a good fit for some people but for others, taking some time before applying is a better option. You may need the break before more school, or you may need to spice up your application for the next rounds of applications. I happen to fall in that latter. So, what can you do in your gap year to boast your chances of success in applying? You can volunteer, shadow, do some research, gain clinical experience, complete a SMP, or obtain a Master’s in a related interested field. Essentially the same as you were doing while in college but with two extra options, a SMP or a Master’s. A SMP stands for a Special Master’s Program, usually a Master’s in Medical Science, where students take advanced science courses and even some medical school courses with actual medical school students and gain a boast to their applications when applying to medical school. These programs are designed for students who need a little help before applying to medical school. A SMP takes about 4 semesters, 1 year in some cases, to complete and can cause as much as 1 year of medical school education so take that into account. By some school accounts, about 80% of students go on to successfully entering medical school following completion of this program. A Master’s program is another path to medical school, although it is important not to think of it as such. Unlike a SMP, a Master’s can be a double edge sword. While obtaining one shows that you can handle higher level of education, it also shows that you used the degree primarily as a stepping stone towards a medical education. Be careful, a research how many students entered the medical school you’re interested in with a Master’s.  Thank you for your time and I wish you well!!

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Minimalism & Zero Trash Lifestyle Change

First, I wanted to congratulate those who are graduating this month! You did it! Do not forget to check out my previous (Attention Soon-to-be-Alumni) post regarding the different services that you can still use as USG alumni.

Second, to those who finished their first year at USG, you did it! You are halfway through your program. Can you believe it that spring semester already ended? Although spring semester had ended for me, summer break is not yet within my grasp because I am taking two summer courses in the span of a month. Yikes! Fortunately, I have two class-free weeks. Yay! As a former member of UMBC’s Peer Advisory Team (PAT), I learned the significance of taking the time to reflect (i.e. life in general, self-development, career-path etc.)

Reflection in Life
Since the semester ended and I finished up my projects/papers, I had some time to think about my lifestyle. Due to my vegan soon-to-be brothers and experience living in a one bedroom condominium with four other people (it was crowded and cluttered), I found myself thinking about how I live my life. I have always cared about animals and the environment, but I never thought about how to be more conscious of how I affects my environment. I also wanted to learn to live with the necessities in life to avoid having a cluttered home. I have been watching YouTube videos on minimalism and trash-free lifestyles, which inspired me to start my journey in minimizing the trash that I produce and de-clutter my home. It has been a struggle since I tend to collect lots of stuff. However, since I started this journey, I learned to let go of tons of my stuff. The questions that I always ask are: Do I love this item? Will it bring meaning or happiness into my life?  

For those who would like to learn more about minimalism, I would recommend watching Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, which is a documentary on the minimalism life style.

Benefits: Less clutter in your home, control over your shopping habits (more money saved)

Zero Waste Lifestyle
For those interested in learning more about zero-waste lifestyle, I would recommend to watch 10 Ways to Reduce Waste, which is a YouTube video that provides ways you can reduce trash in your daily life. I like this particular video because the YouTuber also talked about Ecosia, which is a search engine that you can use. For every 45 searches, Ecosia will plan a tree!

Benefit: Conscious about your food purchases (you’re more likely to purchase foods that are not packaged; therefore, less junk food consumptions),

Since I started this journey, I felt like I am living a better life. I am helping reduce trash in my own way and have control over my spending habits. Below, I compiled some tips for those who are interested in reducing trash in your daily life.

Switching to package-free products, such as shampoo bar  (I LOVE Lush beauty products because they are package-free and the ingredients are all natural)
Buying package-free produce and using reusable produce bags
Using reusable grocery bags when you go shopping & wrapping presents in cloth
Using biodegradable products (i.e. toothbrush, bees wax wraps to replace plastic wraps, trash bags)
Making handmade/homemade products that you use everyday (i.e toothbrush, cleaning products, sunscreen, soap)

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and helped you consider living a minimalistic and zero (minimal) trash lifestyle.


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Finally: Summer

Summer greetings everyone!!


As you may know, final exams are blocking our paths to a great summer vacation. For this final blog post for the semester, I want to take the time to explore fun options for enjoying your summer as well as ways to prepare for your finals that have worked well for me in the past. (Please be warned that not everyone learns the same way and what may work for me, may not work for you.)

Summer offers a lot of opportunities and as much as you deserve to do nothing and relax, it’s a good idea to do something with your time. The list is long, there’s;

  • Volunteering at an animal shelter
  • Working more hours at your job
  • Taking summer courses
  • Vacationing
  • Reading new books
  • Traveling the world
  • Learning a new skill
  • Exercising
  • Swimming
  • Cookouts


This summer I plan to take a summer course, physics for life sciences II, and take part in Stepping Stones. Stepping Stones is a program at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital that allows college students with an interest in the healthcare field the opportunity to shadow physicians and physician assistants from different specialties. You’ll spend time in the emergency department, surgery room, and pediatric department. I’m hoping to find out tons about different specialties and see where I may end up someday in the future.  Just wanted to give a quick shout out to the program for anyone who may be interested. To apply simply call the volunteer office at 240-826-6111. Applications open in April and interviews are conducted in May, with the actual shadowing occurring in June. A good way experience for anyone pursuing a career in healthcare, or unsure of what career to pursue.


Preparing for finals isn’t something new for us by now. Some of us have taken them since high school. Preparing for them comes down to a few simple steps.

  • Study – will be different for the type of material that you’ve covering. Cards may work for a course on anatomy but not on an art course.
    • Repetition
    • Cards
    • Re-writing notes
    • Reading over old notes
    • Reading over textbook and answering problems in the book
    • Using Quizlet or any other learning software
    • Studying with a group
    • Working on any study guides provided
  • Break – Take a short break, anywhere from 10-30 minutes. You’re not a machine.
    • Eat snacks
    • Drink water
    • Listen to music
    • Read a book (if it relaxes you)
    • Take a nap
    • Watch YouTube videos (Personal Favorite)
  • Repeat – Begin studying again and repeat the cycle for 1-2 hours max. After that take an extended break for 1 hour or so. You don’t want to burn out before the exam has even begun.


Hope you all have a great summer!! And congrats to anyone graduating!!

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