GEMS Student Spotlight – Ayodeji Ajayi, MD

Ayodeji Ajayi, MD: GUSOM Matriculant, Class M2022!

Ayodeji Ajayi

If someone told me it would take me ten years post undergraduate studies to have a real chance at being accepted into medical school; I would have looked at them like they were out of their mind. Lo and behold, I was stuck in a vicious cycle of countless rejections at the end of each application season. On one occasion, I received an acceptance letter only to find out it was a mistake. As the years passed by, my desire to become a physician never dwindled. It seemed like the more they told me no, the more my passion for medicine grew. There was something in me that said ‘no matter what happens, just keep moving.’ With this in mind, I received my Masters in Public Health from Mercer University while working in the pharmaceutical industry.

As a clinical trial monitor, I worked with world class physicians and their teams to ensure that drugs transitioned from the laboratory to bedside. It was rewarding to see the impact of these medications on people, but I wanted more. I knew I had to go back to my dream of being a physician. I took some upper-level graduate courses to improve my ‘sorry’ undergraduate grade point average and re-submitted my application. The all too familiar rejection emails started rolling in, again. I was beyond devastated. I thought to myself, this would be my year.

I was going into depression when I reached out to my Pastor. I told him, “it has happened again”. He went silent for a few seconds even though it felt like hours, he said two things: “They will regret it.” and “God will lead you.” Those two phrases seemed so simple yet so impactful and that was the spark I needed. I began a search for people with similar stories like myself and stumbled upon GEMS. I could not believe my eyes. I was shocked that such a program had been in existence since even before I was born and I had no idea! Truly a hidden gem, I wasted no time putting my application together. The day I submitted my application, I purchased my ticket for the interview. Talk about crazy faith.

Weeks later, I received the long awaited interview phone call. I missed the first call because I was overwhelmed with excitement from seeing the ‘202’ area code. Then the second call came in, as I clicked the green button, I had two thoughts. My first thought was ‘Hope it was the date I chose for my ticket.’ My second thought was, ‘This is finally it.’ It was!

May 1st, 2017. That was the beginning of my GEMS journey and it has been life changing.

Like my colleagues, all I wanted was an opportunity but being in GEMS has surpassed my expectation. Being here, I see so much deeper potential for success within myself that I did not know existed. The days of studying to pass a test are over! Dean Taylor and Dr. Kaingo bring a fresh passion for teaching and have a skill for identifying areas of improvement. You can rest assured that they will ‘come in for a closer inspection of your knowledge and it will be time to get down!’ Now, I study with precision and purpose. I see the benefit of mastering foundational concepts because ultimately it will translate into effective care of my patients. GEMS has provided impeccable tools for success that center around self-reflection, identifying negative behaviors that have affected my studies and opportunities to develop into a well-rounded physician.  Simply put, GEMS has given more meaning to my journey and now, it makes sense.

My projected graduation day will mark twenty years since my family moved to the United States. Everything will have come full circle. I never thought I would say this but I am grateful that I was rejected by other schools; it is evident God’s plan was the best. I was accepted by Georgetown and being a GEMS student re-validated my dreams of becoming a physician. When I picture myself ten years from now, I envision myself working as a physician within an underserved population. I have not decided on a specialty yet but I intend on approaching my clinical years with an open mind and allow my specialty to choose me.

Looking back, I wish I didn’t beat myself up about to gaining admission to medical school sooner. I should have embraced the journey and enjoyed it. My advice to others will be this: Wherever you find yourself in life, own it and make the best of it. No two journeys are the same, every journey is unique and brings its challenges and triumphs. See obstacles as an opportunity to develop grit and inner strength. Cultivate a mindset of unrelenting fearless pursuit. Remember what drives you because it will get you through the roughest times. Stand firm, stay true to yourself and remember, the future is always brighter.