I am a 22 year old African American male from Inglewood, California. I graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas, where I majored in neuroscience (pre-medicine) and minored in music with an emphasis in classical piano and composition. I attended SMDEP at Yale School of Medicine in 2012.

Before applying to SMDEP, I was discouraged about pursuing a career in medicine, because I felt that I was not smart enough to compete with other students. Two weeks before the application was due, a friend told me about the program and suggested that I apply. “You have nothing to lose, Aaron!” I sent in my application and applied to three different sites, still considering options other than medicine.

A few days before I was going to change my major and career aspirations, I received an email regarding my SMDEP application. While scrolling, I saw that two of the three sites I applied to were full. As I reached the bottom, I saw that I had been accepted to attend SMDEP at the Yale School of Medicine! I took that very moment as a positive sign that medicine was for me. From that point forward, I never looked back.

SDMEP showed me that I was smart enough. The program gave me the confidence to successfully complete my undergraduate education. I graduated college with a 3.927gpa. I was selected as a top leader of my graduating class, and served as the commencement speaker for the UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. SMDEP also gave me the resources and encouragement to apply to medical school. I am grateful, honored, and happy to say that I was accepted into Meharry Medical College and Saint Louis University School of Medicine. I look forward to continuing my education and have SMDEP to thank for much of my success. The program itself and the wonderful people that I met while at Yale, changed my life for the better, and I am forever grateful.

For more about Aaron Dotson see: “Medical School Hopeful Inspired After Summer in Yale Program” and ” Neuroscience Student Gains Experience at Johns Hopkins Internship