The following members of the Class of '24 and '25 SAS Honors Program spent part of their summer celebrating the news of their respective acceptances to two competitive seven-year pre-health programs available to Rutgers University students. The Rutgers School of Dental Medicine BA/DMD program is a selective program for highly qualified pre-dental students to have conditional, early-acceptance to RSDM, and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School BA/MD program is designed for a select group of high-achieving premedical students of Rutgers University to have conditional, early-acceptance to RWJMS.
They offer their reflections on the past two years at Rutgers that prepared them in applying to and being accepted into the program.
Michael Incabo SAS '24 is a Biological Sciences major from Fair Lawn, New Jersey and was admitted to RSDM in the summer of '22. He will be matriculating to RSDM this fall.
Michael's parents are from the Philippines but he was born in New Jersey, growing up in Fair Lawn for most of his life. At Rutgers, he was a predental student and a Biological Sciences major who was involved in a variety of activities both related and unrelated to dentistry. Michael volunteered at events like the Scarlet Day of Service through the SASHP, was part of the Dental Knights Association, and joined the job committee in the Rutgers Pre-Dental Society. His interests often relate to Asian culture, media, and games so he joined organizations like the Anime and Japanese Environmental Society, Filipino Martial Arts Club, and Scarlet Smash. He is also part of Phi Beta Kappa and the NSCS. Outside of school, Michael volunteered at his local church, assisted at the Bergen Regional Medical Center, shadowed dentists, and gained dental knowledge through programs like Harvard Bridge to Dental School.
Michael shares, "based on my experience in applying to the BA/DMD program, my advice for any interested student is to evaluate how serious one is in becoming a dentist and thoroughly research the program beforehand. Shadow general dentists and specialists to see if it’s a good fit because applying to the program, building a competitive AADSAS application, and going to dental school early is a huge commitment. Open up a file with the HPO and communicate regularly with pre-health advisors regarding BA/DMD requirements like letters of recommendation, coursework, policies for AP credits, and so on. Maintain a high GPA and score well on the DAT to increase the chances of getting accepted into the program."
Michael also adds, "the most important general advice I have is to go at your own pace. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is best to apply to dental school when you have confidence in your maturity and experience. Don’t put yourself down when comparing yourself to others and don’t feel rushed if you feel unprepared. I applied to this program because it’s been my lifelong dream to become a dentist, but everyone is different. Avoid focusing only on dental-related activities; develop strengths and interests beyond the field, create family and peer support systems, and enjoy your undergraduate experiences fully. That way, you’ll become a more well-rounded individual who is ready for the rigors of dental school. Ultimately, if you feel prepared and understand what needs to be done, then I encourage those truly passionate about oral health and healthcare to apply to this program because it is a valuable opportunity."
Isabella Dabrowski SAS '25 is a Biological Sciences major and member of the Douglass Residential College from Sayreville, New Jersey and was accepted to the RWJMS this summer with plans to matriculate to RWJMS next fall.
Isabella grew up in a Polish household and spent a lot of her childhood before school in Poland along with going to Polish Saturday school in the U.S. for eight years. Isabella grew up always interested in medicine, being fascinated with science, and knew early on that she was interested in becoming a physician who could change people's lives for the better.
Isabella participated in six years of ballroom dancing, several seasons of track and field, cross country, kickboxing, soccer, and is currently weight lifts and runs. Although she broke her ankle playing soccer in high school and struggled through a long recovery, she chose not to give up and highly recommends having an active lifestyle; especially in medicine where the field occupies a lot of time and energy, making the time to take care of ourselves mentally and physically is essential. Dabrowski's greatest advice is "to find balance and not get disheartened if it takes some time and discipline to figure out what works for us individually. With balance, I was able to manage my academics while serving as a physical therapy aide, medical assistant at a pain management clinic, volunteer at St. Peter's University Hospital, General Chemistry II TI, shadowing a gastrointestinal physician, participating in research in an inorganic chemistry lab and also research in a plant biology lab, and more. I've found comparison is truly the thief of joy and constantly faulting ourselves for not being able to spend our days the same way others do will also contribute to burnout. Being aware of burnout and competition between our peers can help mitigate a lot of stress on this marathon-long career path." Dabrowski adds, "I believe medicine is so much more than a paycheck; it's the privilege to impact and change lives and a profound responsibility. With that being said, I am excited to continue my journey into medical school and acknowledge how privileged I am to one day live my dream of becoming a physician."
Megan Hsu SAS '25 is a Biological Sciences major and Spanish minor from Tenafly, New Jersey and was accepted to the RWJMS this summer with plans to matriculate to RWJMS next fall.
At Rutgers, Megan is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta National Health Pre-professional Honor Society and Phi Sigma Iota International Foreign Language Honor Society. She is an active student researcher in reproductive biology at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology. Megan is also a General Chemistry Teaching Intern, leader on the SAS Honors Peer Mentor Programming Board, and Researcher for Mother’s Touch. She also serves as the President of the Hong Kong Student Association and Community Service Co-chair of RUsister2sister. Over the past two summers Megan interned at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Harvard Medical School Orthopedic Trauma Initiative doing clinical shadowing and research. She also volunteers at Robert Wood Johnson in the Emergency Department.
Megan advises prospective students to, “make sure you genuinely enjoy the activities you partake in college and do not just do it for the resume. There truly is no one straight path to medicine and it is important to embark on your own route rather than follow a predefined checklist. Doing what you love will demonstrate your passion for your future and showcase your individuality. Another tip is to collaborate with your classmates and help each other. This is a journey that cannot be taken alone. Medicine is a team sport, and it is crucial to cultivate a healthy and productive learning environment. Always appreciate your support system, whether they are deans, mentors, classmates, professors, family, etc. They are willing and eager to help you. Seek guidance and make use of available resources like the HPO to enhance your preparation. Lastly, while it is important to focus on your academics, make sure to enjoy the process. It is easy to get caught up in all the prereqs you have to complete that you miss the college experience right in front of you.”