Bela Parekh '14
University of Michigan Medical School (Class of 2024)
Education: University of Pennsylvania, College of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School, dual BA/BS degrees, biological basis of behavior and economics (healthcare management)
What I’m Doing Now: I’m currently 18 months into medical school, in my clinical year. I come from a family of physicians, so even in high school, I knew I wanted to go into healthcare. College opened up my eyes to all the different parts of healthcare, and that exposure brought me to McKinsey after graduating, where I was a business analyst with a focus on healthcare projects and particularly global health. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the broader industry, but I really missed patient care and clinical medicine. My decision to go to med school boiled down to the fact that I really love connecting with patients and problem-solving.
How Kent Place Influenced Me: I did a leadership camp one summer and happened to be in a coed class toward the end of one week. We were doing a reflection exercise and I was discussing with a male friend what leadership traits we saw in one another. He said, “You’re never afraid to speak up, even if you’re wrong.” I had never noticed that before, but at Kent Place, there is this constant, unspoken message that girls can do anything. I was always encouraged to raise my hand and speak — to not be afraid to fail. This message really helped me to feel empowered, like I had a voice. I noticed this again in college, in big, STEM-oriented lecture hall classes, such as Organic Chemistry 101. I was never afraid to raise my hand if I had a question. I really think that was nurtured and encouraged at Kent Place.
How I’ve Surprised Myself: I’ve put myself unintentionally out of my comfort zone — not necessarily realizing it, but taking opportunities that definitely don’t feel like the safe option and seeing how that goes. My time at McKinsey, for example, was phenomenal but it was not a very traditional path to med school. I felt empowered to say no to projects if they weren’t aligned with what I wanted to do. Even my program at Penn — I decided to get both business and science degrees and figure out how to put them together. I feel comfortable taking chances on opportunities that fold into this overall story that I’m trying to create for myself, and the impact I want to have in the future.
Advice for My KPS Sisters: Raise your hand, even if no one else in the room has theirs up. You’re either going to get a phenomenal opportunity out of it, you’ll get phenomenal teaching out of it, or maybe you're standing up for someone else who doesn’t have the ability to raise theirs. You have nothing to lose.