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Koret Fellowship Program

Makda Mehari

Biology major, class of 2020

Over the summer of 2017, I received $2,500 from the Koret and IME Fellowship to complete General Chemistry 12 and General Chemistry 13 at Santa Clara University. After not receiving a sufficient grade in Chemistry 12 to move on to Chemistry 13, my options were to wait for winter quarter of my sophomore year or to take summer classes. At the time, both options seemed dire and I started to lose hope with my major, Biology. With my dream of becoming a doctor now on the line, I knew that it was not going to be an easy decision. I was determined to do anything I could to stay on track with my major and I knew I would not let money be the deciding factor. I decided to look into different financial aid options for the summer and when Erin presented me with the Koret and IME Fellowship, I immediately applied. After receiving $2,500, I felt such a burden lifted off of my shoulders. This fellowship is the sole reason I continued with summer courses and it is the reason I am able to pursue my career goals as a Biology major.

During the school year, I felt drowned in work, especially with the General Chemistry series. I felt as though I could never catch up with the rest of my peers and during Chemistry 12, it started to show in my grades. I was losing interest in my major and felt as though I was incapable of remaining in the chemistry series. After not receiving a sufficient grade, I had to choose between dropping my major, wait a year to resume Chemistry, or take summer classes.

Summer classes at Santa Clara University are very expensive. I knew that I had to pay it all on my own. My passion for science was going downhill and as I weighed my options, had not received the fellowship, I probably would not have decided to take summer courses. After much reflection, I realized my calling was truly in fact in medicine. I needed to continue trying. I needed to find a way past this barrier of what felt like failure, and find a way to make my dreams possible.

Summer classes were extremely fast paced – taking 10 weeks of material and condensing it to 3 weeks. Classes were held for five hours every day with an intensive lab two to three days a week. Although the classes were extremely challenging, I found myself catching up with material and slowly gaining more confidence in myself. My time management skills and academic discipline slowly started to improve and my grades started to show it. I developed a stronger connection with my Chemistry professors and bonded with my peers. I never expected to do better during the summer but without outside distractions and with immense pressure to succeed, I found myself working better.

Overall, my summer experience was very positive. I still carry on lessons that I learned during those six weeks. Thanks to the summer classes, I can now pursue my career and continue to become a better student. This fellowship has impacted my life in such a big way and I am extremely appreciative of the opportunities and lessons I have learned. Although my experiences differ from how others may use their scholarship funds, my experience is monumental and is what I owe much of my success to.