Alumnae/i Feature

From Business to Medical School: Shreya Arumugam ’12 on the Value of Perseverance

The following interview with Shreya Arumugam ’12 was completed before the pandemic hit the hospital where she is completing her medical residency.

“COVID-19 has put tremendous stress on the healthcare system,” she reports. “I am an Internal Medicine resident and on the front line treating patients with this catastrophic illness. It is a pathology that is somehow familiar but also very foreign. We have had multiple losses but we have also had success stories. We are currently doing our best to take care of these patients and keep ourselves protected as well. I am proud to say that I work with an amazing and brave group of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and cleaning staff, and together we will care for our community and get through this very tough time together.”

Though not reflective of the current situation, we want to share her original interview and send our support to Arumugam and her colleagues. 

Shreya Arumugam ’12 started at Simmons as a pre-med student. “I focused all of my energy on getting into medical school,” she recalls. After a rocky start her first year, Arumugam abandoned her dreams of medical school and changed her major to economics and finance. “I worked extremely hard in this field and my grades went up, I made great friends, and I was very happy.” 

Then Arumugam started her internships at a variety of large companies in the Boston area. “I was never really happy with the work I was doing, and I never felt fulfilled or proud of myself,” she recalls. With the support of her parents and best friend, Puja Patel ’12, she realized she couldn’t let go of her dream of attending medical school.

“By this time I had only four pre-med classes under my belt and needed several more," Arumugam explains. "I took many classes over the summer and maxed my load during the semester. I was able to complete all of my prerequisites. My dad always said that it’s easier to do the hard thing; I thought that was a little crazy but now I understand it. I persevered and I was able to apply and get into medical school — one of the best days of my life.”

And she found a support system at Simmons, as well. “My favorite professor was Dr. Niloufer Sohrabji. She is such a motivational person and an amazing teacher. She taught me how to study and motivated me to achieve my goals.”

Arumugam completed a bachelor’s degree with majors in both finance and economics in addition to her pre-med requirements. “You only need a few people on your side helping you to succeed. There will be people who will advise you to take an easier route, but there are also amazing people who will lift you up and help you every step of the way. I do not think I could have made it to medical school without my professors at Simmons.” 

Arumugam is a third-year resident in Internal Medicine, taking care of hospitalized patients and some outpatient work. “My medical specialty is like detective work. We ask the patients questions, we look for clues in the physical examination and blood work, and we come up with a diagnosis and treatment course.” 

For students interested in medical school, Arumugam has hard-won advice: “I recommend picking a major that is not science-related. If you aspire to become a doctor, your whole life is going to be dedicated to studying medicine. As long as you make time for your pre-requisites, take advantage of the opportunity to experience other fields.”

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