This week we're spotlighting Mac, a Boston University MD candidate who is one of our most experienced test praparation tutors! Mac started teaching while he was a student at Middlebury, taught volunteer swim lessons and tutored friends in a variety of subjects. Since he began at Cambridge Coaching, Mac has tutored students in the SAT, the GRE, and the MCAT. He particularly enjoys working with students to achieve the highest score they can on the MCAT. Mac has a wide range of experience with different academic subjects, including the sciences, history, and political science and looks forward to using memorable analogies to make difficult topics accessible. You can learn more about Mac by visiting his tutor profile.
Tell us about where you grew up, and what your world looked like.
I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. My world was very pleasant and very suburban, with friends and a park for ultimate frisbee within walking distance. I’ve only found a few places in the world that are nicer than the back streets of Lexington on an early summer evening.
What did you decide to study, and why?
In college, I studied political science and biochemistry. Biochemistry, because it seemed useful, and political science because it fascinated me! It was a totally different way of thinking about books and ideas than I have ever had before. More recently, I’ve loved studying medicine.
What are you up to now? How did you decide to pursue this?
Currently, I’m doing a rotation in an immunology lab before starting the graduate part of my MD/PhD Program. I’m hopefully going to be doing lots of work with informatics and statistics for my PhD. I worked on a project where we predicted who wouldn’t show up for their appointments, and decided that learning those math skills would be a really important way to contribute to medicine.
What do you imagine your life will look like in 5-10 years?
Probably still in the thick of clinical training. I imagine I’ll be working frantically to take care of patients and be a good doctor. In my spare time, I hope to be hiking and camping somewhere west of the Mississippi with friends or family. Also, I plan on having one or more big goofy dogs.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned from teaching?
Never assume anything about the level of a students knowledge or their capacity to learn anything. With my first student, it took me a few sessions to realize that she couldn’t do long division! We worked through that, and she ended up doing very well on the SAT.
What’s the most memorable thing a student has ever said to you?
“You’re a comforting presence. Not in a traditional way, but still comforting.”
Given the choice of anyone in the world, living or dead, which 3 people would you invite to your dinner party? What do you imagine you'd talk about?
Georgia O’Keefe, Ansel Adams, and Ian Frazier. I’m a huge fan of the part of America that lies west of the Mississippi, and I’ve loved each of their depictions of that part of the U.S. I’d love to learn more about what they saw, and what made them want to create their art in the way that they did.
What’s something you’ve changed your mind about?
The frequency and magnitude of my errors. As I've gotten older, I've realized I've been wrong much more often and to a larger degree than I ever could have anticipated. It’s a humbling and wonderful experience to learn how much other people know and how much they can teach you.
What are three alternative career/life paths you have considered (even just for fun?)
Really, the only alternative career path for me has been being a Glassblower. Glassblowing is one of the neatest things in the world. It’s beautiful, technically challenging, and incredibly satisfying. The summer before medical school, I thought really hard about spending the summer working as an apprentice in a glassblowing factory. Beside that things, medicine is pretty much the neatest thing. I’m so lucky because I sort of blundered into it.
What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
Be less afraid of hierarchies (and everything). One reason that people seem so talented is because they’ve been doing it for longer than you’ve been alive. Take the chance to learn from them and see if you can avoid some of the mistakes that they’ve made.
Be less picky about your friends. Pretty much everybody around you is going to be awesome, even the people you don’t know super well.
Get excited about being wrong. There’s no better position than last place, because you can only go up from there. Your mistakes teach you so much.
Journal: It’ll force you to reflect on the world and you can keep a record to see how far you’ve come.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get where you are now?
Work hard at things you enjoy doing. If that happens to lead you to medical school, then I’ll be thrilled if we get to work together. If you want more specific details, shoot me an e-mail. I would be thrilled to talk with you.
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