Nita Rao, June 8 at 4:03pm. When I was 13 years old at SuperCamp, our counselor asked us what we wanted to “be” when we grew up. He gave us each a square plank of wood and asked us to write our goal on one side of the board and then the obstacle that stood in the way of achieving that goal on the other side.
Being a typical teenager, I thought this was silly and that being an adult was so far away in the future. After being encouraged to take this project seriously, I thought about what to write. At that time, my only “job experience” was volunteering at the local hospital as a candy striper, a small job, but nonetheless something I enjoyed. I then began to think about medicine and how I wanted to be a doctor. I knew this was a very hard goal to achieve but at the time, it was the only thing I could see myself doing. So on one side of the board I wrote the word “Doctor.”
Then I thought about what would prevent me from achieving this goal. I laughed and thought that there would surely be several obstacles on that path including getting into medical school, studying long hours, passing exams, and giving up some of the best years of my life. So to simplify this, I wrote the word “Grades” on the other side of the board.
Our counselor then told us the second part of this project. He told us that he would hold the board with the obstacle side out in front of us and we had to basically karate chop it and break it with our hands. Having no athletic ability and minimal strength, I knew this was going to be difficult. I was the last person in my group to go, and everyone else who went before me broke their board on their first try. Finally, when it was my turn, I nervously attempted punching the board. It … did … not … break.
Embarrassed and discouraged, I rapidly attempted it again, this time mustering up every ounce of strength I could. Again, nothing. The board stayed as intact as possible, almost mocking me. I could tell everyone was watching me and I felt humiliated. I wanted to run away. My counselor took me aside, and told me that sometimes in life you are not able to get what you want, that you have to work very hard, and if at first you don’t succeed, you have to try and try again. He suggested I try breaking the board in a different way. So I chose to use my foot. He lowered the board for me and I slammed my foot down as hard as possible. That darn board finally cracked!
My journey through medicine has been very similar to my experience breaking that wooden board that day at SuperCamp. I have had ups and downs. I have been discouraged to the point of wanting to give up. Medicine has pushed me, it has challenged me, but just like breaking that board, I have never given up. Every time medicine has tried to knock me down, I have kept fighting for my dream.
So today, after receiving my long-awaited board scores, I am happy to announce that I am now officially a Board Certified Family Medicine Physician.
And I will never stop trying to break that board.
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And here’s a fun connection from Nita’s SuperCamp post on Facebook. And, of course, there were many congratulations comments!
Also, I don’t know how possible this is, but I was wondering if there was any way I could share my story with my old camp counselors from that time and Bobbi DePorter (who I met twice). If this helps, I went to SuperCamp at Stanford University in California during the summer of 1999. My counselors’ names were Ian and Channel. I would love for them to know the impact they made on me. Thank you.
WOW!! This is incredible!! Nita, I will write more later, but I am so moved by this!! I’m so glad you believed in yourself all those years ago, and took that with you in the 18 years since! So inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing this here—you just made my day 🙂
OMG!!! Yes!! Hi Ian!! That’s amazing!! I’m so glad I was able to connect with you! This just made MY day! 🙂
Nita, I just read this to my wife and kids at dinner (my wife, Angel, was a fellow Team Leader at SuperCamp Stanford in 1999). Brought tears to our eyes. Would you mind if I share your post on my FB wall?
Of course!! I honestly cannot believe I was able to connect with you guys!! When I wrote this post I did not expect that to happen but I am so grateful that it did!
Love hearing these stories of the impact SuperCamp has made years later!
Nita, love your SuperCamp post and I’d love to talk to you!
(And later . . . so inspired by our conversation!)