Parent-teacher conference can be a daunting thing if you're a student and it could be one of the worst experiences, I will say. But this time around, I was super freaking excited because I had the best teacher ever. Her name is Mrs. Monsen. And I was also excited because for the first time ever, I was doing exceptionally well in my schoolwork. And I was excited to go to school, which I hadn't ever felt before.
It's finally my turn walk into my fourth-grade classroom with all of our decorations and all of our merits just strewn up on the wall. And we sit down in front of Mrs. Monsen and we go over what our goals were for the year, and if we've met those goals, and obviously, I was killing it, like I said before, which made my mom proud. So that was a good feeling.
The next thing that we talked about is kind of our goals for the future. What do we want to do when we grow up? Where do we see ourselves? And I remember saying, I think I kind of want to be a doctor. And so Mrs. Monsen looks at me and she pauses before she speaks. And she says, "When it comes to matters like your dreams, you should say it without casting a shadow of doubt within your dreams and say, 'I will become a doctor.'"
And that shift in framework and the way that I was thinking was kind of a thing that catapulted me into not only thinking that I could be a good student and not only thinking I could get good grades, but it kind of led to the thought process of like, "Well, if she believes in me this much, I must have some sort of capability to achieving this dream."
The encouragement that you get from a young age is able to sustain you and follow you to achieving your dreams. And I'm not saying it's unwavering and that you don't ever doubt yourself again. I'm saying it pushes you when you don't necessarily have that belief within yourself because someone is invested in you and someone believes that you can do it.
I think this message is particularly important because I went to Parkview Elementary in Glendale, Salt Lake City, and Glendale is a very multi-cultural city. And Mrs. Monsen was tasked with educating us and making sure that she builds up our confidence within this realm of academia that we so often get left behind.
And I can only imagine how many other lives that she touched and how many other people's confidence that she built, because I know how I felt during that time. And I know that something changed when she became my teacher, because I wasn't necessarily the best student prior to her. She brought something out of each and every one of us that were in that classroom.
The impact in terms of being an early guidance and an early mentor for me . . . I'm a person who wasn't born in this country, who had immigrant parents, who is on the margin of a margin. Gave me a self-sustaining bit of pride in myself and the work that I do, like boosting your self-identity and using that as a strength rather than as a fault, and making sure the fact that you don't fit in is actually an asset and is not something that will drag you behind.
And I think because the fact that you're so different, it's so important to convey all of those things, because we need to let go of this, like, homogenous space that is academia and start being able to collect vastly different narratives and stories.
- S6E22: The Complexities of The American Dream
- S6E21: Beyond Match Day—Setbacks and the SOAP Process
- S6E20: Mutual Aid and Healthcare
- S6E19: Diverse Narratives of Med School’s Third-year
- S6E18: Setting Boundaries in Medicine
- S6E17: The Intersections of Medical Specialty and Identity
- S6E16: (The Illusion of) Perfectionism in Medicine
- "It's Your Medical Team... May We Enter?"
- "You Need to Start Saying, 'I Can Do This'"
- "She Didn't Look Like the Professors I Thought I Would See"