Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rejection Sensitive--Part 2

I have received rejection letters in the past and somehow I survived them all. I even got one rejection letter I am obliquely proud of. It was not for a piece of writing, it was for a medical school application.
I need to tell you a little bit of personal history first. I applied to medical school in 1982. I wasn't sure I actually wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be a "medical scientist." I wanted to do health-related research, cure cancer, have a disease named after me, that kind of thing. This dream involved applying to very competitive M.D. Ph.D. programs including one called the Medical Scientist Training Program, MSTP, which involved a scholarship from the NIH. There were only 120 or so spots in the country for MSTP's at the time I was applying.
To make my life more complicated (I am good at making my own life complicated) I was studying abroad during my senior year in college, right in the middle of interview season. Shuttling back and forth from France to the U.S. to do round after round of interviews was not something I could afford. So I tried to convince a few programs to interview me early so I did not have to return to the States after I left for France. A few programs were very gracious and did so. Some could not accommodate me so early in the interview season, and I did after all have to fly back from Paris to interview at two or three schools.
One school sent me the following letter: Dear Sarala, We do not think an interview is warranted in your case. Sincerely, ________.
Somehow the letter hurt less because the school was so arrogant as to not even bother to soften the blow--e.g. we are very sorry, but we had so many qualified applicants this year, we are sure you will find success, etc, etc. Going there after that letter would have been like joining a club that didn't admit Blacks, Jews or women.
Somehow everything worked out in the end. I got into a good school and earned the combined degrees. For more on this see this post.

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