On Take Your Success, I regularly interview top-performing college students to understand how they’re successful, so you can recreate the success in your life. Take what’s helpful, dismiss what’s not!
This week I interviewed Natalie Bata. She is the Student Body Vice President, pre-med, and in a sorority. I’m sure I’m leaving out some other activities that this do-it-all girl is involved in, but you get the point—she has achieved in college.
I think Natalie is so skilled at determining what she wants, and then accomplishing it. Beyond her distinguished resume, she is also extremely cool and fun to be around in social settings. Natalie has this great positive energy about her, so I’m confident that she will make for an amazing doctor.
There are many things I can learn, and my intention is that you can also learn from her to improve in college. At the end of the interview, I’ll share the key insights I discovered.
Brian: What’s your advice for doing well in pre-med classes?
Natalie: Pre-medical courses require the conceptual understanding and application of the topics, it is far from memorization. In order to succeed in the courses, students should be taking creative approaches such as watching supplemental videos, asking many questions and doing many practice problems, in order to truly grasp the ideas because more often than not, exams tend to be, very tricky.
Brian: Do you have general guidance for students who want to improve their chances of admission to medical school?
Natalie: Be proactive and plan ahead. Figure out your game plan—when you’re taking each class, when you plan on taking the MCATs, when and what you need to apply for med school, etc.
Brian: Why did you decide to take time off instead of going straight from undergrad to med school?
Natalie: Being a doctor has been a dream of mine for such a long time, however, there are so many other things I would like to do as well. Because medical school is so important to me, I know, based on my work ethic and passion for medicine, that I would want to give it 125% and all of my attention, so I don’t want to have any regrets or think back during medical school and wish I would have taken a year off.
Brian: Tell me what you learned from marketing yourself and networking to get elected as Student Body Vice President.
Natalie: The marketing and networking were pretty simple for me since I had already been involved in various, diverse organizations, and thus had a pretty strong network. I found the most difficult part about getting votes was getting people to actually take the time to log on to their accounts and vote.
Brian: What do you believe is your greatest contribution as VP?
Natalie: While there are so many things that I would love to have achieved and probably could have if there were more time, I think the greatest contribution was the creation of the Safety Initiatives committee. I am not quite the politician, but I am passionate about enhancing the experience of every Miami student—so I found a way to do so and that’s by working on safety initiatives and my biggest project this year was the It’s On Us campaign, the sexual assault campaign that was launched by the White House in September. Which was super cool because I was able to sit on conference calls with the White House and speak to some representatives.
Brian: From my understanding, you make it a habit to enjoy college and have a good time going out. How are you able to do this, while being so busy?
Natalie: I’m not going to lie…. I don’t sleep, ever. I actually can’t sleep because I always feel like I have to be doing something, so I always end up doing work a couple of days in advance. Each night, I plan what I’m going to do during every hour of my day, always making sure I put time in for two things: the gym and the library. I will usually not go out unless I have done both and I sometimes find myself going out at eleven thirty or midnight (and sometimes I order a water at the bar, no one notices anyway!).
Brian: Why are you driven to be successful?
Natalie: Success is not necessarily my driving factor, I really just want to be useful. I believe that this life is truly what you make of it and it would be a shame for me to waste it by not reaching for the stars.
Brian: What are your plans for after graduation?
Natalie: I really wanted to join the Peace Corps. I believe in their mission and I think I would have enjoyed it except for the fact that it was a two-year commitment, something I wasn’t sure about being able to commit because I only wanted to take a year off. Instead of doing that I’ve decided to join the AmeriCorps, a one-year commitment, in where I will hopefully be completing various service projects in Denver or Sacramento. After that, I plan on going to medical school to fulfill my dream.
For all those pre-med students out there, I would trust Natalie Bata’s advice for doing well in science classes. If you can understand and then be able to apply topics in pre-med classes, and in basically all technical courses, then you’ll be in good shape to do well on your exams. Forget only doing practicing memorization if you want As.
Second, Natalie plans her day the night before to accomplish all her tasks. If you have trouble being productive, I recommend planning the night before your next day’s activities, like Natalie. This way, you have momentum when you wake up because you already know what you need to get done.
(If I were to interview Natalie Bata again, I would ask her about why she values working out, because I do too. I know that staying in shape helps my productivity and happiness.)
So, what did you find most interesting in this interview? Comment below with your thoughts or questions.