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Sachin Pasricha

Sachin Pasricha taking accelerated route to med school

Upper Canada College Grade 12 student Sachin Pasricha is one of just 10 high school students to be accepted into the Queen’s University Accelerated Route to Medical School (QuARMS) program, a new opportunity for Chancellor’s Scholarship nominees to enter medical school after only two years of undergraduate study in the arts, science or computing programs.

In addition to enrollment in first and second year courses in the Faculty of Arts and Science, QuARMS students are exposed to experiential learning strategies aimed at honing their skills in advocacy, communication, collaboration and professionalism.

It’s quite an achievement, and one that forced Pasricha — who has received a number of academic prizes at UCC — to make a big decision.

He was also one of 30 Canadian high school students to be named a Loran Scholar, a prestigious honour that recognizes: personal integrity and character; commitment to service and an entrepreneurial spirit; breadth in academic and extra-curricular interests; strongly developed inner-directedness; and outstanding overall potential for leadership. The scholarship is valued at up to $80,000 over four years for study at one of 25 partner universities.

By accepting the QuARMS, Pasricha was obligated to decline the Loran Scholarship.

We asked Pasricha about his accomplishments and honours and future plans, and here’s an abridged version of what he had to say:

Why do you think you received these honours?

I believe my balanced lifestyle — consisting of academics, service, clubs and sports — has provided me with a personality and many skills that came across well in the interview selection processes. Furthermore, I think the fact that I have attempted to be genuine in everything I do, with regards to the subjects I take and my co-curricular activities, was crucial. It is often tempting to undertake activities because it is believed to be beneficial for one’s resumé, and at times I admit that I started activities for this very reason. However, I found that I would only have the strength and perseverance to continue with activities such as hospital volunteering and Ontario Model Parliament, or even cross-country, because I had a genuine interest there.

UCC and my parents have both provided me with a lot. When I was younger, particularly in the Prep and before UCC (or even into the first couple years of the Upper School), my parents would keep involved with my school work. Though I resented it at the time, I remember the nights when they taught me how to edit my essays or how to quickly take in complex information. And through their dedication, such skills became a part of me and I am now thankful for that.

While many schools offer amazing programs both inside and outside the classroom, I feel UCC has had a unique impact on me. I could have gone to a different school and I don’t feel I would have gotten the same attention. Attention inside the classroom is particularly valuable because of the relationships that can be created between teachers and students. While I can’t speak for other schools, what I can say is that I feel that all my teachers cared about me as a person — from what I did in their class to beyond. This often resulted in me pushing myself harder than I otherwise would have and being more genuine with both school and co-curricular work.

What’s your ultimate ambition?

I feel that the certainty of going into medical school and graduating somewhat earlier may open me up to immense specialization within the medical field, or even perhaps work abroad one day. I imagine I will be introduced to a variety of specialization over the next six years, but, as of right now, general surgery, nephrology and cardiology are of particular interest. I have enjoyed my time in my economics course and found the development section particularly interesting. I hope that by graduating from medical school at a somewhat younger than average age, I may have the opportunity to experience medical practice in these developing nations, but do more than treat people. I hope to empower the people of these nations with the tools to take charge of their own personal health, but also their healthcare system in its entirety.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned from UCC?

The greatest thing UCC has taught me is probably the ability to strike up a conversation with confidence. While seemingly simple, it is often a difficult task. Yet it is one that is so important in life. Teachers, often because of their genuine interest in you as a person, will strike up a conversation with you about anything: sports, music, school, university, hobbies. Beyond teachers, administrative personnel at the school will do the same thing, as will the staff at the lower dining hall. Even the conversations that are had between students of different grades are particularly valuable. And while I feel that this may be true of most schools, I feel that the open, welcoming and inclusive environment of the school makes it particularly true here. Because of the “never walk alone” mentality, boys feel they have the ability to strike up a conversation with any individual in the school and, over time, this confidence in conversing extends beyond the school.

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but I think our school, through its open environment, allows us to gain conversation and confidence-building skills that are somewhat unique and give us an advantage when it comes to the world beyond UCC. Or at least I hope they do, and I guess I will find out next year.

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