Makomed's Weblog

My First Letter of Recommendation

Posted on: August 3, 2007


Biology was over, and I had gotten an “A”. Yay for me. I really liked the professor and I got the feeling she liked me back, especially when I saved her movie lecture by tinkering with her computer. But I was the class clown and I heckled her and came to class late a few times. Still, I figured all the times I helped her with her computer, the labs, and by actively participating in class may have gotten her to like me enough to write a recommendation.

So I decided to pop the question:

“Teacher, would you be willing to write me a strong letter of recommendation?”

Man that was hard! I’ve been mulling around the idea of asking for LOTRs to include into my med school applications but I figured I’d wait until I found the perfect professor. She seemed to be a good candidate: She was sweet, smart, beautiful and looked good on paper because she earned her undergrad and doctorates at UC Berkeley. She was the first professor I asked. She was a pre-med head’s dream woman. It was akin to approaching Cameron Diaz at a bar and saying, “So, what happened to you and Justin?”

SHE SAID YES!!!

To add to my ecstacy, she told me to give her suggestions on what to write in the letter. I emailed her later about it. Try not to vomit too much from my shameless ass-kissing:

—–

Dear Dr. CoolProfessor,

Your class was fun! I definitely enjoyed dissecting sheep hearts and seeing what kind of weird and scary creatures are out there in the world. You have single-handedly ensured the notion that truth is stranger than fiction. Why should I divert my attention to science fiction movies when there are strange technologies and amazing cultures that surprisingly mimic our own?

For example, I was enthralled by the structure of the nematodes. Their diversity is well categorized in a clever way by their Phyla. It made them less revolting, and much more fascinating, to realize exactly what their bodies were capable of and their main function. Uniformity breeds familiarity to me. I was enthralled by the utterly complex symbiosis of orchids in South America and how they used those shiny wasps for spreading their pollen in the movie, Sexual Encounters of the Floral Kind. And although photosynthesis, cell respiration, and electron transport chains continue to baffle me, I have a much higher respect of plant life. I’ve always despised having fake plants to adorn my apartment, but even my limited knowledge of biology increased my confidence of purchasing and taking care of real plants for once. With your skill in imparting knowledge of hypotonic solution and turgor, I was able to pay more attention to wilting plant leaves to decide how and when to flower my plants. Then, after realizing that nutrients were absorbed from the roots (and not just water) to the xylem & phloem, I finally went out and bought the plant food that you stick in the soil. Now it all made sense. Lol, I had never had a green thumb but at least the science you’ve taught me makes me feel less clueless.

I think the most important thing about your class that I picked up was the topic of antibodies and immunology. I cannot thank you enough for explaining the drug mechanism of the cytotoxic drug conjugation for my presentation at work. Your advice helped tremendously especially since the beginning of my Powerpoint presentation at work talked about the structure of the drug: How the protein cleavage attached the cytotoxic ingredient to the antibodies, how the antibodies recognized the certain structure of Glycoprotein NMB, and why they structured the IgG2 monoclonal antibody to recognize the glycoprotein when they found out in 1997 that the protein pMel-17 was a confirmed melanocyte marker and that the glycoprotein NMB’s structure was most homologous to pMel-17. Could you imagine how idiotic I would have looked if I didn’t even know what homologous meant??? The NCCN states that single-agent chemo or immunotherapy is that most effective form of treatment today. Now I can safely explain my knowledge of immunotherapy to our hopeful cancer patients who have no clue what direction to take their treatment.

Dr. CoolProffesor, I am so glad that you’ve agreed to write me a strong letter of recommendation. As you know, I am actively pursuing my goal of becoming a medical doctor. I came to this decision when I first realized that medicine is my passion after having served six years as a Marine Corps medic, and subsequently as a civilian research nurse in the fields of cancer & cardiology. I believe that my penchant for humor belies the seriousness of which I embrace my calling as a physician. It is with great pleasure that I had you as a professor who imparts both humor and a sound education.

For this reason I ask that you represent me in my application to med school in 1 or 2 years by mentioning whatever positive attributes I have that you see fit, but by also emphasizing:

1. my skills at social interaction with my peers/classmates (I would e-mail them my notes from your powerpoint presentations to help them catch up as well as organize study groups and show them how actively participating in class leads to further enjoyment of learning and self-fulfillment). I would like to be represented as a leader who leads by example and enthusiasm instead of negatively affecting my classmates.

2. my dedication to my work and study skills during tests (especially when I aced exam 3), to highlight the discipline I invoke despite my limited studying time due to my full work schedule. This shows that I am just as serious of my education as I am playful and that I can effectively manage my time.

3. the way I eagerly try to apply the knowledge I’ve just learned to clinical medicine and everyday life. I took what topics you’ve taught me and immediately applied it to my current line of work in order to positively affect the medical population. This ensures that I do not take your lectures, demonstrations, and guidance for granted or for selfish reasons and I use it to benefit others instead of letting my newly learned skills stagnate.

4. finally, since my school of choice is UCLA, it is imperative that I demonstrate proficiency in computer skills to show that I am prepared for the technological era that medicine is trending towards. I hope that I have given you enough computer support for you to validate this claim!

Again, thank you Dr. CoolProfessor. You are the first professor I have asked to represent me to the admissions boards of the medical schools I will apply to. I was very nervous to ask and I was so ecstatic to hear your affirmation. (It was akin to me proposing to a bride, I was that nervous). But I felt that I had a very close connection with you and I thoroughly enjoyed you and your class. I sincerely hope that I have given you enough examples for you to endorse me as a strong–if not essential–candidate for medical school. I’m optimistic about my future and have more confidence about where I’m headed.

I will send you another email from the LOTR document collections company (INTERFOLIO.COM) so that they can collect your strong LOTR in a classified format and store it for me until I am ready to apply to schools. Thank you again and again, Dr. CoolProfessor!

Ugh. I can’t believe how overzealous I must have sounded to her.

Gag Me

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