In December 2012, I decided to take my PSATs “just for fun” to get an idea of the type of admission exams that are required by American universities. Little did I know that the exam I took out of curiosity would lead me to one of the best experiences of my life.
A couple a months after taking the preparatory test, I received a letter in the mail from an organization called the National Student Leadership Conference, congratulating me for my nomination to attend one of their many conferences in health care available at 6 top-notch universities across America that I earned through my PSAT examination. I decided to go to UC Berkeley for a 10-day conference last June, and it was unforgettable.
First of all, the event was jam-packed with presentations by professionals in various health care domains. Most of these presentations were as interactive as possible with workshops offering lots of hands-on experience. I learned how to suture, drill into (wooden and foetal pig) skulls, dissect organs such as a cow’s eye and a pig’s heart as well as a chicken foetus, and gained experience with clinical rotation simulations where I learned how to analyze vital signs and how to react in a crisis. I even had to make a public service announcement that I had to present at the end of the conference.
[Me drilling into a foetal pig’s skull with San Francisco surgeon Dr. Parsioon]
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. What’s great about the NSLC is that there’s that leadership aspect, as indicated in the title, that really teaches you how to find yourself and be a better leader in whatever you will accomplish as a career. An incredible man named Mike Walsh hosted workshops every day that helped us develop our team-building skills and discover who we are. In those moments, I felt at peace with myself and I know I am a better leader today due to the sessions I spent with this man. When we weren’t in the workshops, we learned to apply what we learned in our small groups of 10-15 students that we spent the whole conference with through all of the workshops, as we worked together a lot when we discussed bioethics, how to talk to patients, worked on our PSA, and just bonded together. Some of the best moments of the trip for me were spent in our small “TA groups”, under the mentorship of a loyal counsellor.
The other students that participate in this conference come from all around the globe, some of them having lived in multiple countries in their life, and their experiences are so interesting to learn about. This being a leadership conference where kids are nominated, a lot of them have incredibly dynamic personalities and they’re really fun to be around. We get to meet a lot of them through all the workshops and even social events that are organized. The friends I made at the NSLC are friends I know I will keep in touch with for my entire life, as we bonded on so many levels and share so many similar interests.
Finally, it’s important to mention the tourism you’ll get to experience. I had never been to San Francisco before and got a chance to explore Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, the Oakland zoo, a ropes course overlooking the city, and many scientific hotspots such as the Berkeley School of Optometry, the Exploratorium and the David J. Gladstone Research Institute, one of my favourite places from the trip. Also, you get to know Berkeley, a cute little college town with color that you can’t see anywhere else. We got to tour the university as well and use its state-of-the-art conference rooms and facilities. That, and the fact that we stayed in the UCB dorms, definitely gave us the full college experience.
One thing that I learned with the NSLC is that your experience is what you make of it. You have some incredible opportunities at your fingertips and it’s really important to be as enthusiastic, participating, open, and dynamic as possible to take advantage of it to the fullest. If you are looking for an enriching summer experience that is a lot of fun, the National Student Leadership Conference is definitely something to look into.
If you are interested in this summer program, please check out www.nslcleaders.org for more information!