When international student Joao received his acceptance letter to Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM), it felt like a dream come true. The 2019 Florida International University (FIU) graduate had wanted to go to medical school since he was seven years old — when his godmother died of cancer.
Joao, recalling his family’s experience with his godmother’s illness, said, “just seeing how the doctors treated and helped her, inspired me to help people and to have a positive impact on their lives, just like those doctors had in my family’s life.”
Joao grew up in Brazil and enrolled through the FIU Global First Year (G1Y) program for his undergraduate studies. Students take credit-bearing courses through the G1Y program at FIU, while also receiving individualized support from advisors, tailored instruction, and access to cultural events on campus and beyond.
As a freshman, Joao knew what he wanted to do, but was not sure which steps to take to get there. During his time at FIU, his professors and pre-health advisers helped Joao find volunteer work and doctors to observe, and they also helped him enroll in the right classes.
“I started to join some pre-med clubs and organizations to get more involved,” Joao said. “As the semesters passed by, I started a research project and worked as a tutor. I also held several volunteer and leadership positions and worked with the pre-health office, which helped me a lot.”
Joao found an osteopathic physician and followed them for more than a year, shadowing the doctor’s day-to-day activities in the hospital. This direct experience helped him decide which branch of medicine to study. “I loved the philosophy, the more hands-on perspective, and the vision of seeing the patient as a whole when treating a certain condition,” Joao said. “I knew at that moment that osteopathic medicine was the right fit for me.”
The Global First Year team was there to give Joao a strong foundation at the start of his FIU journey.
The Global First Year team would always ensure we were doing well, or check to see if we needed anything,” said Joao. “They definitely helped a lot — it was always good to know I wasn’t alone throughout my journey.”
Joao graduated summa cum laude from the university’s honors college this spring and starts medical school at LMU-DCOM in August. After completing his studies, he hopes to be a surgeon or go into emergency medicine.
His advice for aspiring medical students? “Know that you will have a lot of support during your first year, and that will definitely make a difference,” he said. “Your transition to college will be much easier — and smoother — through the Global First Year program.”
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