As I get in my car and exited onto Interstate 40, the thought honestly went through my head: “Graham, are you crazy?” Here, I embark on my first journey to Elon, where I would be attending PA school for the next 27 months. Owning a home in Durham, I decided to take on the persona of a commuter student, with a 45-minute drive—one way. All of my classmates had found apartments or houses closer to campus, most being able to make the commute in 15 minutes or less. I could do it, I convinced myself, as I compared my commute in NYC for work, which could end up nearing an hour, depending on how crazy the A and L train were in Manhattan (which if it was a day that ends in “Y”, there was a high chance it was crazy). Not going to lie, there were days where I absolutely hated it, and seriously considered and questioned how much it would cost for an Uber back to Durham (not even slightly kidding). However, there was a positive side to the commute that I found. PA school is one of the most stressful things someone can put themselves through. 86.5 credit hours in 12 months (slightly less) is no easy feat. When we as humans are under high amounts of stress, it is important to remember to stay connected—internally and externally. Externally to stay in touch with your support systems (yes mom, I ate lunch, and yes mom, I will call you tomorrow). Internally, both spiritually and emotionally. I can’t tell you all how many times I cried, laughed, told myself “stop freaking out, you can do it”, woke up with coffee, decompressed with a Sheetz slushy, etc. The list doesn’t end. My commute made became something that I depended on, and it kept me sane.

This year in general has been the toughest year I have been through ever: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Would I trade it for the world? Not a chance. I was able to serve as our class president, and it was truly an honor to be able to represent my class through leadership, because they all make me so proud. These 37 people are my family now. We laughed, cried, made jokes, made trips to Harris Teeter, ate Tangent tacos (I highly recommend the shrimp melt), and learned our new normal together—and I wouldn’t change one thing about our journey. And the best part about all of it is now I get to do what I have always wanted to do—this is it, this is what all of my hard work has been about. It is both humbling and motivating, and I can’t wait to begin to practice the art of healing through medicine.

-Graham

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