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Advisor Highlight: Katharine


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Advisor Highlight: Katharine

Roheet Kakaday

1. Why did you join Lean On?

I definitely spent a lot of my premed time feeling like I had walked into the desert without a guide or even a map! Either the right information wasn't out there or I just couldn't find it. There seemed to be very few ways to connect with people who were in touch with what the medical school application process was really like. Lean On is a resource I really wish I had when I was going through my premed experience and so I knew I had to be a part of it! 

2. What was your premed experience like? 

I made the decision that I might want to go to medical school after I'd already applied to several undergraduate universities as a vocal performance (opera) major. I'd made CDs, and even flown out to sing auditions! But then, I decided that my real love was medicine and not music. At the last second, I popped off a couple more applications to schools with strong science programs. 

I was lucky to be accepted at UCSD where I fell in love with their amazing cognitive science program. Cognitive science really opened my mind to the importance of understanding the correlation between human behavior and the working parts of the human machine. 

I worked in research labs all through college, being lucky to be employed at both UCSD and the Scripps Research Institute. Not only did these jobs give me the much needed ability to pay my rent, they also gave me the chance to study everything from addiction to language learning in children. 

I was amazed how I began to feel like I fit in medicine. This was an idea that was further solidified once I began shadowing and volunteering in a NICU. One of the first times I shadowed in surgery, I remember the surgeon kept asking me if I had to leave, but there was no way I was leaving that OR! This seemed so strange to me until I realized that the case had been going on for over 8 hours and I hadn't sat down or eaten since I'd showed up at 6 that morning. Medicine made sense like nothing else ever had. 

I always knew that I wanted to return to my hometown to attend medical school close enough to my family that I might see them occasionally in the middle of my crazy schedule. I also knew that UNM was the perfect program for me with early patient contact, a focus on collaboration over competition, and open space for students to do research, volunteer, policy work, or explore other parts of medicine. I was so fortunate to secure an acceptance at my top choice. 

4. What was the hardest part of the application cycle for you? 

The hardest thing for me was definitely learning how to talk myself up. I'm naturally a very self-critical person. I often rate a lot of what I do as " pretty solid but with room for improvement"! I think this attitude is still present in my life today, and one I wouldn't trade because it always pushes me to strive to work a little bit harder. However, it was definitely a challenge when you were trying to convince a room full of admissions people that you were the one for their school. Through my experience, I learned that I didn't have to be perfect to be a good candidate--I just had to be imperfect, hardworking me. 

3. What's something fun you do in your spare time?

I've talked about before that no one can do 100% medicine 100% of the time. As much as I love medicine, my activities outside of the hospital and studying keep me sane! 

It's a long running joke among my friends that if medicine didn't work out for me, I would go to culinary school! I grew up in a family where the kitchen was the center of the household, so I guess it was a natural development for me to love cooking as much as I do. Coming over to my apartment is basically a guarantee that you're going to get fed. I love the improvisation and creativity that's to be found in cooking. There's nothing quite as satisfying as frosting the perfect cake or rolling out your own pasta dough. 

I've recently become a bit of an adrenaline junkie and picked up rock climbing. I'm becoming a little bit obsessed with it. I love the rush of making it to the top of climb--even if sometimes I'm questioning why I choose to put myself through this torture when my arms feel like they're going to fall off halfway up. 

Finally, writing has always been my passion since I was a child. It was my first love. I've long since given up writing the lengthy fantasy adventures I once favored and have switched to non-fiction work about medicine. Most of it can be found on my blog LadyKay(Almost)MD ( And I've recently started looking for new ways to publish some of what I write! I'm excited for the challenge.