Packing It Up

by Lorien E. Menhennett

Time to start packing …

I packed my first three boxes today. One milestone among many over the last several days, weeks, and months – each bringing me closer to medical school. Other recent notable events:

  • Buying my one-way plane ticket to New York City (I leave Wednesday, August 12)
  • Getting my Weill Cornell mailing address, e-mail address, and campus user ID
  • Logging into the Cornell system for the first time
  • Taking a peek at my first medical school assignment: a “prematriculation assessment module” aimed to determine how much we remember from our premedical classes (scored but not graded)
  • Buying lots of stuff on for my new dormitory nest
  • Quitting my job
  • Applying for a student loan (again)

It’s been a few months since I posted here on my blog, and the last two items on that list – quitting my job and applying for a student loan – deserve explanations of their own.

Last July, I left my research lab job at Northwestern University and in August began working for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). This “acquisitions specialist” position brought me back to my publishing roots, though with more of an emphasis on competitive analytics and market trends. Sort of a hybrid publishing/marketing position. With research, writing, and science in my background, the job was a wonderful fit (or so I gleaned from the positive feedback from my manager and colleagues). Besides being a great job, I met some dear people and was immersed in the amazing world of surgery – a world that quickly fascinated me. But with things looking good for my student loan, I left AAOS in early June to focus on getting ready for medical school.

Ah yes, my student loan. Those of you who kept up with my story last year may remember that my 2014 student loan rejection prevented me from starting medical school last August, and threatened to keep me out of medical school entirely. The reason was my foreclosure, an adverse credit event that turned my loan application – even my appeal – into automatic denials.

That old maxim though – “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” – is so true. I sent dozens of faxes to politicians, journalists, and other pundits across the country. My goal was to make so much noise that someone with authority and power would listen to me, take up my case, and force the Department of Education to change its tune. It took time, but it worked, thanks to Senator Mark Kirk, a U.S. senator from my home state of Illinois. A legislative aide from Kirk’s office was on the phone with me within 48 hours of my pleading fax arriving at his office. Within a few weeks, my loan denial was reversed. The approval came too late for me to attend school last year. And I still have to reapply this year (nothing is automatic with the Department of Education, believe me). But now there is precedent for my loan being approved, and I am confident it will go through again. (It’s currently rattling around in the DOE system somewhere.)

In the meantime, I better pack up more boxes. Because in two and a half weeks, I’ll officially be in medical school.