1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Hello! I’m Magnus Chun. I was born in Massachusetts, raised in Colorado, and currently a senior studying Chemical and Biochemical Engineering (minoring in Biomedical Engineering) at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO. I will obtain my B.S. in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering in May 2018, my M.S. in Chemical Engineering in May 2019, and then right after, hopefully enter medical school.
As a high school senior, I knew I wanted to become a physician, but I ended up deciding on engineering as I also loved problem solving, math, and sciences. Why not become an engineering pre-med student? Will it be challenging taking engineering courses and pre-med courses at the same time? Absolutely. Will I regret following this path? Absolutely not, as I knew being either an engineer or a physician would satisfy my inner drive as a human being.
2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? I remember the time when my Biology teacher hugged me after I walked across the stage to receive my high school diploma. She told me these exact words, “You have so much potential to go and change the world.” So far, I have followed her advice and tried to make an impact to everyone I interact with and the world I live in, so that it can be a better place. I know that if I become a physician, I would not only make her proud, but myself proud, as I have gained the potential to heal the world as a physician.
3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? I was a dedicated student-athlete in high school being on the varsity swim team and qualifying for state every year. However, my ability to continue swimming was in doubt when I was diagnosed with scoliosis. Swimming became challenging for me as the curvature of my spine impacted my physical and emotional ability. Every night and day, I had to wear a suffocating brace around my torso and I became frustrated explaining my diagnosis to people that stared at my back inquisitively. I thought I would have no hope of swimming again.
I remember the moment when my orthopedic surgeon said to me, “Magnus, I need to surgically fuse metal rods to keep your spine straight.” My heart was beating anxiously in my chest and my hand started trembling. But it all changed when my surgeon held my hand, taught me how my condition could be cured, and told me through collaborative support from healthcare team members, that I could return to swimming. They showed me that it was possible to recover even when I felt there was no hope through educating me, being emphatic, and treating me as part of a whole team. After the surgery, swimming was no longer difficult for me, and I was able to pursue my life-long interest, along with the peace it provided. From that moment on, I realized the impact of medicine not just on me, but potentially on others. I knew immediately I wanted to become a physician so that my patients could live their lives to their fullest.
4. What area of medicine are you interested in? I haven’t decided yet, but I’m really into cutting things open, so there is a good chance that I will choose a specialty within surgery. I’m currently shadowing a plastic surgeon and am amazed at how he could turn something that looks horrible into something beautiful. I aspire to be a surgeon just like him.
5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? My coolest experience occurred when I was shadowing cardiology residents and attending physicians at my local teaching hospital. I had the opportunity to listen to a patient’s story of living with a heart condition. He lay in bed, was in pain grasping his chest. Through the attending’s stethoscope, I heard the patient’s irregular heartbeats that showed signs of Atrial fibrillation and instantly felt a connection to not just his biology, but also to the patient himself. Through his fatigued eyes, I could sense he wanted all of us to help him return to his normal life. When the family members, physicians, residents, and I, formed a tight circle around the patient’s bed, I knew why medicine had enticed me. This image of collaborative support of the whole healthcare team and my experiences have made me excited about the responsibilities and possibilities as a physician.
6. What is your favorite book? Medically related: Mountains beyond Mountains. It inspired me to see that one person can make a difference. Dr. Paul Farmer had that goal in mind and executed it to perfection.
Non-medically related: Ready Player One. I finished that book in 3 days. I really enjoyed the aspect of living in virtual reality vs living in reality.
7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. I’ve had a passion for tutoring and teaching students in biology and engineering classes. After seeing my fellow students on campus struggle through their academic workload, I recently decided to start a volunteer private tutoring service at my campus to help those in need. Since the tutoring is all volunteer, the students don’t have to pay for tutoring, receive the 1-on-1 tutoring they need, and can schedule meeting times based on individual times, not office hours. So far, it has been a success as I have 4 tutors and 15 students. The professors have more time for office hours, while the students that truly need private help will be able to receive that service through my group. We tutor students in Chemical Engineering and Biology classes.
8. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do? If I couldn’t be a doctor, I would become a chemical engineer in the oil/gas industry. I am very fortunate to have done undergraduate research in the oil/gas industry for 4 years now and have gotten 2 publications out of it. I would be working on the flow assurance team to assure a constant flow of oil in subsea pipelines.
9. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it? My biggest obstacle was the MCAT. I had to take it 3 times and every time I had to do something different and learn about ways to improve my score. I was very lucky to receive a high enough score the third time to be recently accepted into an allopathic medical school that is my top choice in which I will be attending next year (Tulane University School of Medicine)!
10. What do you like most about PreMed STAR? Collaboration, not competition. To see other students helping other students (through lecture videos, forums, posts, chat, etc.) become successful and succeed in applying to medical schools brings joy to my heart.
**Originally premed of the week January 29th, 2018
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