What A DUI Taught Me

What A DUI Taught Me

What happens when you wake up upside down dripping blood? What happens when the only person at fault was you? What happens when your entire life comes crashing down?
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I was your typical pre-med student at the University of Pittsburgh. People looked up to me, and praised me for my hard work. I was up every single weekday at 7am, and went to bed at 4am after working in a hospital. I did what I needed to do just to get right where I wanted to be academically, financially, and in life. I never thought one mistake could take that all away from me.

Last July 4th I thought I was okay to get behind a wheel after a family party. I was not. I lost control of my new car and rolled more than 3 times. My BAC was 0.162, and as a level 1 trauma (the most severe) I was hospitalized. I couldn’t subtract 7 from 15, and I couldn’t walk for a few days, but I was alive.

The first thought I had after I became conscious was: “What just happened, is there another car?” After crawling out the back window, I searched around in what seemed like a pitch black field for another car, for another person who was harmed by me. Once I found no indication of anyone else, I did what any pre-med student would do: I frantically searched for my brand new, clearly expensive (thanks college) Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. Don’t ask me why. Eventually a car came by, and thankfully those people from high school recognized me and called for help.

The hardest thing to do in this world is to look your family in the eyes while in a hospital bed plugged in to a million things and admit “I am sorry.” I couldn’t do it. I balled my eyes out. I let them down. I let my school down. I let every single person in my life down. I let my morals and ethics fly away, and I let my dreams go up in flames. Years and years of hard work to get to the point in my life where I was happy was thrown down the drain. My medical school application I was working on? GONE. The routine hours spent volunteering? GONE.

It doesn’t matter what my GPA was, or how well I did on my MCATs. It doesn’t matter if I never missed a day of school since Kindergarten, or that I spent routine hours volunteering in the nearby hospital’s surgical/trauma ICU. It doesn’t matter if I always put my seatbelt on before I started my car and drove. I got behind a wheel of a car after drinking, and I had to face the consequences. It doesn’t matter what kind of person I am, I have to face the embarrassment and shame of it all.

What is embarrassing? Being a pre-medicine student, only a few hops away from being a medical student and making one of the dumbest decisions any one could possibly make in their life. What is shameful? The fact that over and over again the saying “Don’t drink and drive” is pounded into your brain from such an early age, and I made that mistake that could have taken away a life (or a few) from this world. I told myself I would never drink and drive… but here I am.

The main thing that pains me every time I think about the accident is that I was fortunate enough to have only harmed myself. I could have killed someone. I could have killed an innocent family traveling safely and soberly home on the holiday. It was as if I got behind the wheel and never thought about who I could have harmed, or whose life I could have turned upside down on both ends.

If you think you are okay to get behind a wheel? YOU ARE WRONG. Just when you finally think you have everything in your college career and life figured out, you will ruin it.

So here is what I learned: Think before you do. I could be on my way to medical school right now, but instead I am forced to take a few years off. 10 months later, and I am still dealing with legal issues, and they don’t seem to be getting resolved any time soon.

I have spent hundreds of hours crying the past few months, because I was stupid. I threw away everything I worked so hard to achieve, and now I am set back a few years. I can’t think about the accident and DUI, without my eyes flooding with tears, and when someone asks me if I learned my lesson, I fight back the tears and think: “God only knows.”

So my advice to you? Don’t drink and drive. Don’t risk your life or your future. Don’t you dare risk the life of anyone else. You are not invincible. Ask yourself what your family would do if they had a knock on their door with a message that you had one two many drinks before getting behind a wheel and dying? What would you do if you woke up and find out you killed a mother and her child because you got behind that wheel after drinking? Seriously, what would you do?

I got behind a wheel after drinking, and I could have easily hurt or killed someone. I deserve the embarrassment. I deserve the shame. I deserve every single consequence the state legally wants to throw my way, and I more than deserve every medical school denying me the privilege of trust after this. I may have only made one big mistake in my life, but I have to live with it and become a wiser person with each passing day. I have to learn to be patient and never give up on my dreams in the meantime.

I have no one to blame, but me. So take it as you will. If you want to destroy your future, you go for it, but whatever you do, don't you dare put the life of a family member, friend, or complete stranger in danger. Please listen to me, it will never be worth getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking.

Cover Image Credit: Christopher Dixon

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To All Incoming Freshmen, When You Get To College, Please Don't Be THAT Freshman

I am pretty sure we all know who I'm talking about.

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As we are all counting down the days to return to campus, students are looking forward to meeting new people and reuniting with old friends. And then, there is the freshman.

We have all been there. The eagerness and excitement have been slowly building up through months of summer vacation, all waiting for this moment. I understand the anxiousness, enthusiasm, and insecurities. The opportunity to meet new people and explore a new area is very intriguing. But let's be real, you are here to make memories and get an education. So here are a few pieces of advice from a former college freshman.

1. Don't be that freshman who follows their significant other to college

This is the boy or girl who simply can not think for themselves. The 17-year-old puts their own personal goals and interests aside to sacrifice for a six-month high school relationship. This will more than likely end at an end of semester transfer after the relationship has been tested for a month or two in college life. So if you want to really enjoy your freshman year, make your own decisions and do what is best for you.

2. Don't be that freshman who lets their parents pick their major

"You are not going to school just to waste my money."

This is a statement you might have heard from your parents. As true as it might seem, this is definitely not a good way to start your college years. If you are not majoring in something you can see yourself doing, you are wasting your time. You can major in biology, go to medical school, and make the best grades. But if deep down you don't want to be a doctor, you will NOT end up being a good doctor. When it comes to picking your major, you really have to follow your heart.

3. Don't be that freshman who gets overwhelmed with the first taste of freedom

Yes. It is all very exciting. You don't have a curfew, you don't have rules, you don't have anyone constantly nagging you, but let's not get carried away. Don't be the freshman who gets a tattoo on the first night of living on your own. Don't be the freshman who tries to drink every liquor behind the bar. Don't be the freshman who gets caught up being someone that they aren't. My best advice would be to take things slow.

4. Don't be that freshman who starts school isolated in a relationship

I'm not telling you not to date anyone during your freshman year. I am saying to not cut yourself off from the rest of the world while you date someone. Your first year on campus is such an amazing opportunity to meet people, but people are constantly eager to start dating someone and then only spend time with that person.

Be the freshman who can manage time between friends and relationships.

5. Don't be that freshman who can't handle things on their own

It is your first year on your own. Yes, you still need help from your parents. But at this point, they should not be ordering your textbooks or buying your parking pass. If you need something for a club or for class, YOU should handle it. If you're having roommate problems, YOU should handle it, not your parents. This is the real world and college is a great time for you to start building up to be the person you want to be in the future, but you can't successfully do that if your parents still deal with every minor inconvenience for you.

6. Don't be that freshman who only talks to their high school friends

I know your high school was probably amazing, and you probably had the coolest people go there. However, I believe that college is a great time to be on your own and experience new things. Meeting new people and going to new places will allow you to grow into a more mature person. There is a way to balance meeting new friends and maintaining friendships with childhood friends, and I am sure you will find that balance.

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I Wish My Big Ten School Was Known For Education, Not Football

College football is great, but education is the reason that most students choose their university.

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College football is a big deal to lots of universities. At schools like Ohio State, it is a really big deal. Although I personally don't care about football, I think that it is a great way to build a sense of community and camaraderie among students. It is fun, gives many schools a worldwide presence, and allows us students to have a sense of overwhelming pride in our school.

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I cannot count the number of times that I told people that I go to OSU, and they responded by saying something along the lines of "Oh no, I'm a Michigan fan!" If they're referring to how The University of Michigan has some academic programs that are usually ranked higher than those at Ohio State, then I wouldn't blame them. Heck, it is ignorant not to acknowledge the truth in that-- if Michigan hadn't cost a thousand times more than what I'm paying now, I honestly might have chosen to be a student there.

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