Faces of U of T Medicine: Mithila Somasundaram
What made you want to become a doctor?
I think I’ve always known that I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know in what capacity until I was 11 years old, when I lost my uncle to a heart attack. I was incredibly close to him and I admired him greatly, so his sudden passing really changed my outlook on life. It made me reflect on my purpose as a human being and the importance of helping others the way he did. He was the most selfless, loving and virtuous person I’ve ever met. I wanted to try to bring to the world at least half of the generosity and positivity he brought, which is why I decided to pursue a career in medicine.
Have you had any other mentors or role models who’ve helped you along the way?
A key role model and mentor in my life is my older brother Janakan, who’s currently in the class of 2T1. Pretty much since birth, I would follow him around and do whatever he did - whether that was going to a particular school or even watching pro wrestling. I think the reason he had such a great influence on me was because he essentially raised me; he taught me the meaning of compassion and mutual respect through action. He’s a big reason for why I’m the person I am today. I’m really looking forward to going through this journey in medical school alongside my best friend, role model, and my brother.
Has your brother given you any helpful insight or tips into what to expect in your first year of medical school?
I’d say the best tip that I’ve gotten from him is to “trust the process,” which is a saying he gets from Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers. It means that there are a lot of things beyond your control but if you do your best, you’ll have no regrets. This piece of advice is something that I think will help me overcome challenges I may encounter along my journey to becoming a physician, so I will definitely keep it in mind throughout my first year at UofTMed and beyond.
How did it feel when you got your acceptance letter?
I think “surreal” would be the best description of how I felt. I got my acceptance email while eating breakfast, so I remember running to my mom like a lemur and telling her that I was accepted to U of T. I haven’t run to my mom like that since elementary school, so it’s definitely a special moment that I’ll remember forever.
Why did you choose U of T over other schools?
I really like UofTMed’s integration of the social determinants of health in the curriculum. I spent my undergrad working on a research project related to the effect of such factors on health care in Indigenous communities, so I was able to realize the importance of including this perspective in the classroom. I also chose U of T because I wanted to study in my hometown of Toronto. I think learning in this city will let me give back to the people and the institutions that helped cultivate my interest in medicine and that made me who I am today.
What are you most looking forward to as a U of T Med Student?
I’m looking forward to both the in-class and extracurricular opportunities at U of T! As a med student, I hope to be able to develop the skills I’ve learned throughout my undergrad in class and apply them in a real-life setting. As for extracurriculars, I’m really excited about meeting my classmates who come from schools and countries all over the world, and going through this journey with them.
What do you think the biggest challenges will be?
I think a major challenge would be adjusting to the Foundations Curriculum, as it’s a completely new style of learning that I’ve never experienced before. However, I’m really excited to develop my learning skills throughout my four years in med school, because I think it will really help me become a better student and a better physician.
What do you like to do outside of school?
I’m a huge sports fan so whether it be watching my personal favorite, Tom Brady, break records in the NFL, or my beloved Habs struggle to win the NHL Draft, I’m pretty occupied throughout the year with playing and watching sports. Another major passion of mine is politics. I love learning about the different issues and events that occur both domestically and internationally and doing my part on a local level to help advocate for issues I care about. This past year, I was able to integrate both of my interests for sports and politics by meeting and thanking fellow Habs fan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for his work with refugees at his Town Hall at Western.
Faces of U of T Medicine introduces you to some of the interesting people studying in the Faculty of Medicine. From advising political leaders to providing care to Toronto’s most vulnerable populations, members of our community are having an impact at home and around the world.
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