252: Pivoting from Pre-Med to a PhD with Julio Salas

252: Pivoting from Pre-Med to a PhD with Julio Salas


In this episode, our guest, Julio Salas’ shares with us his inspiring journey of going from pre-med to a PhD in sociology, including key insights and advice for BIPOC students navigating academia.

Julio is a Chancellor’s Fellow and first-year Sociology PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley.

Centering immigrant families, his research interests lie at the nexus of immigration, race & ethnicity, social stratification, and health.

He’s a second-generation Colombian and Mexican immigrant born and raised in Corona, Queens, NY, who could have never imagined entering the spaces and accomplishing the feats he has.

Because of his profoundly non-traditional path and the unlikelihood of being where he is, Julio attempts to do all that he can to make his spaces and the world a better place for other marginalized folks.

On the show, Julio discusses the challenges of navigating academia as a first-gen, BIPOC individual, the decision-making process behind his pivot to a PhD, and the cultural and structural differences between medical and graduate school.

You can connect with Julio on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julio-f-salas/

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256: Pivoting from Pre-Med to a PhD with Julio Salas


Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:00:00] Welcome to the top rated and award nominated Grad School Femtoring Podcast, the place for first gen BIPOCs to learn about all things grad school, personal development, and sustainable productivity. This is Doctora Yvette Martinez Vu, and I will be serving as your Femtor, providing you with tips and tricks and everything else you need to know to successfully navigate grad school and beyond.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: For over 13 years, I've been empowering first gen students of color along their academic and professional journeys, and I'm really excited to support you too.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Doctora Yvette here. Before starting today's episode, I want to announce that my co authored book, Is Grad School for Me? Demystifying the Application Process for First Gen BIPOC Students, is available for pre order. [00:01:00] It officially comes out on April 16th, and between now and the rest of the year, my co author and I are available to speak at your next event.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: We are excited because this is the first book that provides first generation, low income, and non traditional students of color with insider knowledge on how to consider and navigate grad school. It's the book that we both wish we had when we were undertaking our own grad admissions process at UCLA many years ago.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: The book is both a corrective and a calling card to the lack of clear guidance for historically excluded students navigating the onerous and often overwhelming process of applying to grad school. We walk you through the process from first asking yourself whether grad school is even the right next step for you, to then providing you with step by step instructions on how to maneuver every aspect of the grad admissions process, including providing you with sample essays, [00:02:00] templates, and relatable scenarios.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: If you're interested, we encourage you to pre order your copy today or have your local library order a copy. You can also reach out to us for bulk order discount codes. Lastly, we are available for book talks, workshops, keynotes, panels, and even book club visitations. Go to www. gradschoolfemtoring. com slash book to learn more.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. This is your host, Doctora Yvette. Today we're gonna discuss the topic of pivoting from pre-Med to a PhD program. I actually think this is a really timely episode because I've had several people. Bowl reach out to me and have recently started working with med school applicants.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I just think that this is a topic that I haven't really covered, so I'm glad that I get to talk to someone who has actually [00:03:00] lived the process of pivoting. Our guest today is Julio Salas, and he is a Chancellor's fellow and a first year sociology PhD student, at uc, Berkeley. Centering immigrant families.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: His research interests lie at the nexus of immigration, race and ethnicity, social stratification and health. He's a second gen, Colombian and Mexican immigrant. Born and raised in co Corona, Queens, New York, who could never imagine entering the. Spaces and accomplishing the feats that he has accomplished because of his profoundly non-traditional path and the unlikelihood of being where he is.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Julio attempts to do all that he can to make his spaces and the world a better place for other marginalized folks who I can relate to that. Welcome to the podcast, Julio.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Hello, thank you so much for having

Julio Salas: me. It's a

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: pleasure.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: A pleasure. Of course. So I would love for you to get us [00:04:00] started by sharing a little bit more. I know I, I shared in the intro kind of that you're currently a student, but I would love to hear more about your background and

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: how you arrived at the point you're at now in your academics and career.

Julio Salas: Yeah. Which is, uh, it's gonna be definitely a long answer, so I'm gonna prepare you for that. yeah. You know, it's,

Julio Salas: The

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: five minute version.

Julio Salas: yeah. Yeah, yeah. Um, and, and before I begin, you know, just want to say thank you for having me. Really excited and looking forward to the conversation and want to commend you for what you do and for this.

Julio Salas: Seemed like a linear path though. That fee wasn't that. Um, and I think I'll start, um, sort of where the intro ended, which is, um, the place Corona, Queens, New York, and also this unlikelihood. Um, so I was born and raised in Corona, Queens, New York, which is a predominantly [00:05:00] Latinx immigrant neighborhood. Um, I was the oldest of four raised by a single mother and grandmother.

Julio Salas: Um, and I usually say like up until. When I was 18 years old, when I started community college, I was just kind of wandering through life. Um, and what I mean by that often is I had no clue what I wanted to do. Um, there was no ambition, um, for reasons that, yeah, there was. I just,

Julio Salas: I was stuck or I felt, or when I'm thinking about it now, in hindsight, it was a place where I didn't see much mobility.

Julio Salas: I didn't, um, no one. It's very sort of segregated place. Um, and so I, I had no clue what the world looked like outside of that, that zip code really, and, and, and other neighboring places. Um, and it wasn't until I applied to colleges in high school because it was sort of the next thing. I just thought, this is what I'm supposed to do.

Julio Salas: Um, [00:06:00] and I, what was funny was that I applied to local colleges. Um, a few very close to my house and I was under the assumption that no one gets denied to these colleges. Um, these are just like, everyone just gets in because it was just like the local colleges. I had no idea of like selectiveness. I didn't apply to other schools like Berkeley for example, and I got denied from these colleges that I thought everyone gets in so I under doesn't, how perform bad grades.

Julio Salas: While I mentioned that I didn't really have ambition, I also didn't have what people would consider maybe bad grades. It was just, I just did what I had to do sort of. Um, and that upsetted me a lot actually, which was good. Um, because, so I only got accepted to community college, which I went, ended up going to Queensboro Community College.

Julio Salas: And I remember I felt two things.

Julio Salas: One, I felt really dumb and I. I was under this impression, no one gets [00:07:00] denied. And then the second part was

Julio Salas: I had acknowledged I was the oldest of four. There was this idea that no one was gonna come and save us from the conditions of whether it was being low income, whether it was,

Julio Salas: my family being undocumented.

Julio Salas: So living in a mixed status family where I'm a citizen, they're not. And

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: the challenges that come with it.

Julio Salas: it

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: and so it just was like,

Julio Salas: something.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: do something or no one.

Julio Salas: You know, um, and so I remember just committing myself like to do something. I had no clue. I was just like, and, and you know, I always say the funny sort of things that I was doing my first semester at community college because I had no clue.

Julio Salas: I was Googling, I mean, at the time, Google was what I was, that was my best friend. That was like everything. And so I would Google how to be smart, how to study, how to be better. And, and I would do this thing where I was also getting ready, listening to motivational, sort of like po um, like [00:08:00] podcasts I guess, or YouTube videos, because I was just like, I just need to do something.

Julio Salas: So it Was kind of like

Julio Salas: very hard, but there was no goal in mind. Um, thankfully then a lot of, I fell into mentors, which was like the first time sort of,

Julio Salas: felt that there was people that.

Julio Salas: Wanted to help me. And then two people. I also wanted to be like, um, I kind of grew up in a space where I usually say I didn't have too many positive role, uh, role models.

Julio Salas: Um, and all those things begin to sort of, they just sort of, it kind of like a snowball and, and like

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: and

Julio Salas: a very helpful pipeline program called America Needs You, which helps first low income students.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Income Students was very helpful in finally showing

Julio Salas: Other first gen low income students that were like transferring to universities that were also going to these big name universities.

Julio Salas: And that was the first time I thought, okay, I'm gonna apply to Cornell. And there's a, a funny story there where I only applied there because I didn't meet a previous deadline. And I was like, okay. [00:09:00] Um, so then I miraculously get into Cornell, um, which is a very, it's a different world. It's only about four and five hours from New York City.

Julio Salas: Couldn't be more different. Um, again, I grew up in a place where it was weird, for example, to see, uh, white people. And now I'm in a place where it's the complete opposite. I'm the weird one. Um, and then just through there a lot, a lot of challenges and getting sort of this first time of being in a predominantly white space.

Julio Salas: I had no, I had never been in one, you know.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You know, there

Julio Salas: Distance. And I knew like why people were different, but they weren't in the part where I grew up. I mean, it was predominantly, like I said, Latinx immigrants and nearby black folks. It wasn't. Um,

Julio Salas: so that was the first time and then went through a lot of challenges there.

Julio Salas: But I think the way I talk about at least Cornell, which was a difficult time, but also very [00:10:00] special time, was that it was so difficult that it made things easier. So it was kind of like rough, very rough training. Um, and then, yeah, sort of found myself now here at Berkeley, which we can talk more about.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Talk more about it. I, I was wondering if you could say more about that, what you just said about it was difficult at Cornell, but it made things easier. What did you mean by that?

Julio Salas: Yeah, no, that's a really good question. And I think it's a little, it's probably a cynical way of also looking at it. I'll admit that.

Julio Salas: Um, so it was difficult for many different reasons. I think socially, again, it was the first time I was in a place where I.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: where,

Julio Salas: know, I think, I'm not mistaken, it's about 10 to 20% of Cornell's undergrad is from the 1%.

Julio Salas: You know, that's very different. They're coming from very different upbringings. They're at the best high schools, um, obviously, and that then, so [00:11:00] I felt one very socially isolated and very different, um. There was definitely a very, a rigor to the classes that I was not used to. And also when I was pre-Med at the time,

Julio Salas: the way that the classes are graded is what's on a curve.

Julio Salas: And I remember

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: uh,

Julio Salas: even, even when I was during, when I was in undergrad, I was like, what is the curve? Like? I never understood that concept and I never understood what that really meant until actually I graduated and, and you know, if people are now aware of what it means and why I'm bringing this up is because the way I see it, it's a blatantly unjust.

Julio Salas: Grading system where it's, there's this, the average is set by the people, but if the people are already so advanced, it's, it's not to say that others that are not at that level can't be there, but it just puts it at a such disadvantage. And the analogy that I like to think about a lot is,

Julio Salas: let's say you get the nine best soccer players in the world.[00:12:00]

Julio Salas: Any, any nine best soccer players in the world and you get maybe the best soccer player kid in New York City. And you, you tell him, play with the other nine best soccer players in the world. He might, you know, one game or two, he might make a goal. He might actually do good things because he's pretty good.

Julio Salas: But if you look at it on average, it's just a different level that they're playing at,

Julio Salas: know? Right. So right there, it's pretty unfair for people that fall in the margins and are not in that average thing.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Julio Salas: it makes you think something's wrong with you. And it, it reinforces a very individualistic blaming of like, oh, well all you have to do is work harder.

Julio Salas: And it's not, they don't think really like in the context of it. Um, so that was really difficult where

Julio Salas: I was just like getting pushed to levels I didn't think was possible. Right? Like academically reading, being a full-time student,

Julio Salas: um, the amount of.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: like the amount of like

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: it was.

Julio Salas: Nine to five just studying and in between class. It was very [00:13:00] consuming.

Julio Salas: Um, and I think why I say it made things easier was because on the flip end, it trained me so much. I, I guess you could say, or it was so,

Julio Salas: such high intensity that then when I began to work

Julio Salas: at the Urban Institute, which is a research organization, I was sort of used to this and also, you know. It benefited me to be in that sort of, to gain sort of like the social and cultural capital of those spaces where, you know, we are reading so much.

Julio Salas: So I'm like, my knowledge base is growing, for example, in, in ways that maybe I.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Maybe

Julio Salas: Other, other programs or other universities are not. And I don't say that in a way of like, oh, Cornell's better, and this, I just mean it in terms of the intensity. A lot of times

Julio Salas: remember just being

Julio Salas: puzzled by how hard it was.

Julio Salas: Like it felt like undergrad courses were like, I. Probably graduate courses at other universities.[00:14:00]

Julio Salas: then Cornell at least had the reputation of being a grade deflation school where instead of being likely to give more a's, especially in the pre-med space, they would, they would want, they would lean more on the end of giving lower grade.

Julio Salas: So all in all, I think,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: all

Julio Salas: and then the final point, which I think it made it easier, was for me, I've never been in such a more. White and privileged space that even in, even though I still remain in them, urban Institute is one, Berkeley is one. It wasn't as worse. So in some ways a lot of the challenges that are still there, like

Julio Salas: the outsiderness or the isolation, it's like because it was so bad, now that it's here sort of on a lower level of bad, it doesn't feel as intense, but that obviously.

Julio Salas: Wear and tear that still has of people that are outsiders.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Thank you for bringing [00:15:00] it up. And I'm actually curious, uh, if you were. Pre-Med, when, at what point did you decide to be pre-med? Was it, before realizing how hard the classes were? Was it in the middle of learning about the curve and how difficult these, uh, you know, what we used to call wheater classes

Julio Salas: Yeah. Yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: the classes that are intentionally set to be hard so that some folks get pushed out, which you, straight up said it.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: They are unjust,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It's, it really does. Um. It does, um, substantially negatively impact folks on the margins. But yeah. I'm curious, kind of at what point

Julio Salas: Yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: decide to go pre-Med

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: at what point did you realize it that wasn't it, and start to transition to something else?

Julio Salas: Yeah, no, that's a really good question. Um, so when I went to, uh, QCC, Queensboro Community College, again just undeclared, I had probably because I knew [00:16:00] so little, and I think, and this is sort of like a stereotypes slash generalization that like, you know, first gen students know of less career paths or aren't told outside of.

Julio Salas: Probably like stem, sort of like doctor, lawyer, engineer. Um, but I was kind of intimidated of pursuing med school right there. So at the moment I did physician assistant, which is, you know, now, and, and at the time it's, they're almost already at the role, basically at the role of, of a PHY physician. Um, but it was just less schooling.

Julio Salas: I saw it as like less schooling and a little maybe more feasible. Um, and then when I, yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: can you say that part one more time because I didn't

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Just, um, what you said right now about,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: being, deciding to go, uh, the PA route and

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: you say after that?

Julio Salas: That it, it seemed easier and sort of more feasible and I think less intimidating than med school since it was like six years. And there's other requirements, but it's still a very intense, sort of, um, [00:17:00] career path and a very rewarding one. But it wasn't up until I got to Cornell actually, that I decided, oh, or like the last semester at qcc, um, pre-Med and I, one of the things I remember.

Julio Salas: You know, as this is all unfolding, as the, as the semesters are going on, I'm beginning to build more, I guess, confidence because, and I, and I'm beginning to get things and understand all these, like what people would call the hidden curriculum.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: curriculum.

Julio Salas: of it was, one part that I switched to pre-Med was that I actually felt, wow, like I'm beginning to develop this quote unquote potential, or like, now it's becoming clear that I.

Julio Salas: Why not go all the way of being a physician? So that was certainly one where I was like, oh, before I was choosing PA, because it felt at the moment like it was a bit easier, but then I would be, I guess, selling myself short.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: guess

Julio Salas: So that was the main sort of

Julio Salas: reason for it. And then, I mean, the other one was like, which I say,

Julio Salas: and I mean most people ideally would go into.[00:18:00]

Julio Salas: Be a physician for this. And it's a little cliche or corny that the main thing was to help people. And I think specifically what had also happened at community college was that I, I,

Julio Salas: for the first time,

Julio Salas: um, came across the social sciences

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: social science,

Julio Salas: at the mo at the time, psychology. And that for me, I mean,

Julio Salas: know, I became.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I became

Julio Salas: Love in love, um, but it was mainly because it, for the first time in my life, it allowed me to make sense of my upbringing and it allowed me to make sense of Corona Queens as a place and how childhood trauma affects us as adults, different parenting styles and their effects on children. And so I was like, oh, this was like my mom's parenting style.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: you know,

Julio Salas: The other one was like, sort of how our social world shapes our health if we say live in a polluted place, you know, but if, so, I became so intrigued by that. Um, and that was a big thing where then I was like, okay, I'm interested now in becoming sort of a physician. And because I had this [00:19:00] really like,

Julio Salas: I guess really like en admiration with childhood especially, I wanted to be a pediatrician to like work with children and parents.

Julio Salas: Um, and so I just, and, and also because.

Julio Salas: I thought that

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I thought that

Julio Salas: we needed better and by we, I meant like

Julio Salas: first gen students, other Latinx families, other marginalized folks where when I was sort of growing up, I never felt like clinics or people working in the clinics really went out of their way to understand what's going on at home.

Julio Salas: And also the medical system for the most part, doesn't reward. So.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So in many ways I

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: thought.

Julio Salas: deserve more and I thought I could be the better just by being sort of more consciously aware and also having some experiences.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Some experiences,

Julio Salas: but I think it ultimately came down to wanting to sort of take it to the full step of like not selling myself short, sort of being the obsession of the social scientists and what we social [00:20:00] science and what we now call the social determinants of.

Julio Salas: And then I thought sort of this, this as it relates to my upbringing, like, oh, I think it would be good to be a pediatrician and really try to be there for, um,

Julio Salas: sort of like low income families and, and immigrant families.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: What happened then? If you were interested in the social determinants of health, and you were still on the pre-med track, but you realized there was an interest in psychology, somehow sociology, something happened with, so,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: what happened?

Julio Salas: so it's, it's May, 2022. This is, I mean, now it's like a year and a half work, but it's May, 2022. I'm living in Washington, dc I'm finishing up a public policy fellowship. Uh, where like I did, I was at the House of Reps and then I'm at the Urban Institute, which I mentioned earlier, which is a policy research organization for the second half

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Well, [00:21:00] whoa, you, you jumped to public policy. I'm still in my head. You're in the pre-med route. So at some point you were like, I'm not gonna do pre-med. I'm going to maybe do public policy. Okay. Paso, like, I'm, I'm a, I'm trying to like connect the dots.

Julio Salas: really good, because. And I think this is something I probably don't talk about as much, so it's good also to talk about it and think about it. So, of course the pandemic's happening, the con uh, I graduated May, 2021, so pandemic's still, you know, going on. Right pandemic begins March, 2020. I go back home to New York City.

Julio Salas: I left. I could have stayed up at Cornell. I go back because my mom becomes sick with the virus. So I'm staying in New York City and I apply to this other fellowship actually. And it's a community health fellowship in Pomona, California. Um, and I get it. That would've been very perfect for the pre-med context.

Julio Salas: It was everything. It was really cool. It was a really cool [00:22:00] opportunity. I ended up getting it. My mom is still sick at the time and so I decided this, it doesn't feel right to leave across the country. Um, and then I. And so I'm like, okay, then what am I gonna do? I'm about to graduate, you know, I don't really, you know, I know I need a B in New York City and I, I knew someone that applied for this fellowship, which is the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Fellowship, very long name CHCI for short.

Julio Salas: Um, and they brought it up, sort of deadline was in a few days I think or something. I don't remember actually. Like the sort of time applied on a, thankfully also got it. So I was like, okay, DC feels a little at that time, the pandemic's getting better.

Julio Salas: And you can say that's relative, but it's getting better in the sense that things are becoming in person.

Julio Salas: You know, the program was in person because the year before me it wasn't,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: me, it wasn't

Julio Salas: so I go to DC because again, it was like. There had, the [00:23:00] way I framed it was I've been interested in health on a micro level. Let's see how it works at a macro level in policy and health. So it was sort of this opportunity, they expand my horizon.

Julio Salas: Um, it worked out sort of where DC was close to, um, New York City where I could go home once a month. Um, and also, I mean,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And

Julio Salas: also when I started, I should say my mom

Julio Salas: actually. I started the program August, 2021. My mom passed away May, 2021 related to the virus. So at that point it wasn't, thank you so much. at that point

Julio Salas: it was also, now that I think about it, it was a new opportunity.

Julio Salas: Um, you know, I didn't have to worry so much. I think I had to worry in different ways, you know, siblings or my own grief.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: or my own grief family, but it was sort of

Julio Salas: Her being sick wasn't,

Julio Salas: like a deterrent anymore, you know, unfortunately. 'cause she had passed away.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm-Hmm.

Julio Salas: So then I, and then the way the fellowship is structured is you could do nine months on [00:24:00] Capitol Hill, which is just the Senate or the House of reps, or you could split it.

Julio Salas: had a feeling I wouldn't be so interested in like the political world and I was definitely right.

Julio Salas: Um, it's an interesting place. It's for some people think it. Experience different things because I think just as important as it to know what you, what, what.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm-Hmm.

Julio Salas: So then the first placement at the House of Reps runs from September, 2021 to December, 2021. Had a great time, you know, I can acknowledge it wasn't for me, and I overall had a great time. And then the next one, it just works out where I land at the Urban Institute, which is a research policy organization.

Julio Salas: I should, I had also done undergrad research throughout all of,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: research

Julio Salas: for the most part, especially at Cornell. Um. Somewhat related to health, but also not, I think I approach the research as like a way of getting, of [00:25:00] just doing what felt right in the moment and with good people. And I like got really good mentors and so what's occurring?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So what's occurring

Julio Salas: So also as all of this is going on, this fellowship is going on, I'm preparing to apply to med school, you know.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: oh,

Julio Salas: Especially January, 2022, which is at, which is

Julio Salas: I begin at Urban, at the Urban Institute. I'm beginning to study for the mcat, you know, because the application usually opens around June, I think it's more or less around there is when you can begin to apply.

Julio Salas: So I'm studying for the MCAT in January,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: impact in

Julio Salas: you know, beginning to write all my essays.

Julio Salas: I'm asking for rec letters. Like the plan is fully to still go to med school. But there's a couple things that are happening at the same time, especially once it hits May. Because May, you know, I'm like at that point in May, I'm like two weeks away from the mcat.

Julio Salas: You know, I had already gotten the rec letters, my essays have gotten feedback. Mm-Hmm mm-Hmm.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Julio Salas: And a couple things happened. [00:26:00] One. I loved what I was doing at the Urban Institute. I mean, I became also, again, in love with research because in the past, and you can, some people still feel this way, and I don't dis, I don't necessarily disagree.

Julio Salas: You know, some people think who's gonna read this research? Like, it just stays within the academy within academia, you know, it doesn't really get disseminated into public. Um, but what we were doing just, I mean, I was just doing really interesting work. I had a really great team and I realized how much I love to read, write, and to think, which is in hindsight what a PhD is.

Julio Salas: Like, that's how I say sort of think about it. I love to do that in my personal time as I'm being, like, I try to reflect on a lot of things. Think about especially this whole idea of like thinking a lot about my upbringing and how it relates to the present. So one on one end, I'm becoming in love with research and I'm like, [00:27:00] I could really see myself doing this on the second end when I was, when I got feedback from

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: feedback

Julio Salas: people, mainly a good friend of mine and a mentor on my application, on my personal statements.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: personal statement,

Julio Salas: They tell me, you know, it's really good, it's really well written, but it's not clear why med school, they're like, you can put this into law school, you can put this into a PhD program, and it would make sense. So it's not, they're basically telling me, you need to be more clear. Why medicine? Um, and then I was like, okay, two people said that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I've said that to folks too, uh, where I'm reviewing an application and they're telling me they're applying to pharmacy school and I'm like, this sounds like you're applying to med school, not pharmacies. Why pharmacy?

Julio Salas: Mm-Hmm.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Sorry, I didn't mean to

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: um, that's good that they asked you those questions.

Julio Salas: no. It's good because you know, a funny story. It was the first time, it was my good friend. I mean, my really good friend Brandon, and I remember to myself, I was like. Oh, I [00:28:00] kind of felt like,

Julio Salas: I

Julio Salas: kind of like it. It definitely, uh, definitely affected my ego and I was like, oh, I kind of like thought, hmm, you know, maybe, maybe he doesn't know what he's saying or not.

Julio Salas: Um, he, he was, he was spot on. He was very good, and I'm happy that he was very honest with me, which is that you need those people. You need those people to tell you those things. And then the second one was when a mentor did it for me and I was like, oh, wow. Like I have to really do listen. So. As I'm writing the other parts of the application, which another part of the app med school application is like you have to write about your experiences and how maybe they, they helped shape why you're going to med school.

Julio Salas: So like if you did research writing about your research, and when I was writing that, I felt very, it was very forced. It felt very much like I'm tailoring this too much to what they want to hear, what I should say instead of why I want to, or like what I should say for myself and for. Then the final, one of the final things is the second mentor who reviews my, who reviewed my thing, [00:29:00] he went to med school.

Julio Salas: We had a very similar upbringing. It's a very, also another, I have a lot of, it's so many funny stories. He had a very similar upbringing where he like was like raised a block away from where I was raised. Also went to Cornell also. First gen

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Wow.

Julio Salas: went to med school, but he doesn't become a physician. And so I, I, I thought to myself, I need to have a conversation and try to understand why he didn't, how he was feeling it, and the number one question I asked him, which right there was like, okay, this is all making sense that this is not for me.

Julio Salas: I asked him, you know, you decided in residency to not become a physician, but did you have any inklings of that feeling earlier? And he told me he did. And he told me that he had it as early as being an undergrad. And, but his sort of thing was

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: sort of thing

Julio Salas: he is like, you know, this may sound sort of like weird to say.

Julio Salas: He is like, but med school's so structured and that felt safe for me. [00:30:00] I knew what I was gonna be doing. Four years of med school, three, three to three plus years residency, then you become a physician. He was like, for example, he is like you in the PhD. It's very ambiguous. It's milestones and Right isn't, don't.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I,

Julio Salas: Go like through the process of med school and then potentially be later on, because I could have saw my, I projected what that life would look like and I could see myself leaving. And I think that if I did that, I would be really, I think, bothered or maybe a little regretful. And so sort of all those things came together.

Julio Salas: Uh. I was just like, yeah, this isn't, this isn't what I think I should be doing. And I remember I, I went to a coffee shop in DC and I remember I left and I told myself, we're deciding right now,

Julio Salas: get, I'm not leaving the coffee shop

Julio Salas: until I make a decision. Do I continue or do I not? Um, I spent maybe like an hour, two [00:31:00] hours just generally and really trying to think.

Julio Salas: And funny enough, I mean the main thing I was worried about, especially towards the end is. I have to tell people this, you know, I, this is like

Julio Salas: a year, like he, this is years in the making, right? And you know, I'm this first gen kid who like, quote unquote is beginning to make it because I transferred to a place like Cornell and all these things, and the main person I kind of was afraid to tell was my grandma, you know?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Oh,

Julio Salas: For her. She's, I just thought, I thought my friends would also understand and if people didn't understand, maybe, you know, I shouldn't really like listen to them, but I, at that, I leave the coffee shop deciding, yeah, I'm not gonna go to med school. I'm gonna not, so I, I dropped the application

Julio Salas: and thankfully I had the conversation.

Julio Salas: I think that same day with my grandma and it.

Julio Salas: You, you basically have a track record of making good [00:32:00] decisions. So if this is what, like if this makes you happy and if you feel this is right, I trust, I trust you. And that was, you know, all I needed to hear. Um, and then all my friends also were, were supportive. Um, but yeah, I came down to sort of loving research.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: sort of loving research,

Julio Salas: Thinking, sort of realizing that I wasn't super interested in medicine and I never, I never was a, I should say this as well, I was never drawn to the physical side of medicine. Like I had met a lot of people that were pre-med

Julio Salas: they were, they were so fascinated, just the way I was fascinated by the social sciences.

Julio Salas: They're fascinated by the body, the way the kidneys work, and that was never interesting to me. I was always interested in

Julio Salas: how does immigration status affect health. How does living in poverty affect health? Um, and so yeah, then I decided,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Then I

Julio Salas: which we can also talk about sort of,

Julio Salas: okay, now I'm gonna pivot, but what exactly is the pivot?

Julio Salas: Um, which I, it wasn't [00:33:00] clear when I, I basically decided that the pre-med thing wasn't what I was gonna do, but I also wasn't super clear, oh, PhD in sociology. Um, which is, yeah. So that's sort of how I came to it.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I'm glad that you mentioned like what it narrowed down to, because when you said, oh, I was interested in research, I was thinking, but you can go to a medical school that has that

Julio Salas: mm-Hmm

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: not that? But then when you said, oh, I wasn't as interested in medicine, like as a field and the topics related to it, the way that you were related, uh, you know, to these other topics in the social sciences,

Julio Salas: mm-Hmm.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: a lot of sense. there anything that you feel like that it's important to share about the differences between. Medical school and graduate school. That might be helpful for our listeners who

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: new to these fields. And

Julio Salas: Mm-Hmm

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: conflate the two. Some people

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: that when you're talking about grad school, you're talking about med school.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: usually, when I talk about it, I know everybody says it differently. [00:34:00] When I'm talking about grad school, I'm talking about masters and PhD

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: um, when I'm talking about. You know, professional programs. I'm specifically thinking med school, law school, business school.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: says it differently.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: But just

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: assuming that grad school is MA, PhD and, and as that being different from med school, is

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: that would be helpful for listeners to know about the differences?

Julio Salas: Yeah, no, for sure. That's a really good point. I think so, yeah, when I, when, when I was thinking grad school, uh, I'll, I'll mean it in the context like you said, of Master's and PhD and I'll definitely focus a bit more on the PhD though I'm also aware of some of the master's differences in of med school. So for the most part in the US and I also focus on the US I should say that US Med School typically.

Julio Salas: Is four years under four, sorry, four years of med school and on average three plus years of residency, which depends on your specialty. would say one of the, and then master's, there's one year [00:35:00] master's, there's like two year master's. And then PhD, which is also D different by discipline, can go from, I think usually shorter end is like four years to seven years.

Julio Salas: But one of the key differences is

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: differences is

Julio Salas: of it. So med school is very structured. It's do this, do this, do this. And for the most part, unless maybe you, you know, different reasons you struggle or fail something, it could take maybe a little longer. But for the most part, people are, I think there's very much high expect,

Julio Salas: there's very much rigidity in that you're gonna

Julio Salas: make those milestones four years, right?

Julio Salas: And.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: right.

Julio Salas: Some people can.

Julio Salas: Some people are eighth year PhDs, ninth year PhDs, 10th year PhDs for different reasons. So the structure there are milestones. So, and then I'll speak a little about, I guess in sociology. So my program is six years that if you do everything on time, it should take you six years. But there's [00:36:00] a lot of ambiguity.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: a lot of ambi.

Julio Salas: what I mean by that is.

Julio Salas: Research takes, could take a long time. You know, there's some studies that, you know, if could take a year, two years, three years. Um, so because the, because the focus at least of

Julio Salas: a PhD program is research. There's so many variables at play. For example,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: like for example,

Julio Salas: the pandemic was one where a lot of research had to stop.

Julio Salas: So you were kind of stuck in a PhD program and it probably extended your time a year or two years depending, unless you maneuvered something where maybe you were able to get like quantitative survey data and fill the research. So I would say the structure is one where med school's very structured and pe PhD is less structured.

Julio Salas: Masters are also more structured, where for the most part they also, if it's a year.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: another big difference is the funding.

Julio Salas: So typically as [00:37:00] well, PhD programs in the US And I'll also say what we, well, especially if

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: if.

Julio Salas: rank, so I should also say this ranking matters a lot in, in academia, unfortunately it's a very elitist place. So in PhDs, obviously if programs are ranked better, they have more money. But I bring this up because PhD

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: because typically

Julio Salas: what people

Julio Salas: funded term.

Julio Salas: Ambiguous and differs by school, differs by private school, public school resources, but basically what it means for PhDs is they'll find a way to pay your tuition.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: to pay

Julio Salas: And then give you a stipend to live off of, and that stipend could be tied. Usually it's tied to teaching, so you're a teaching assistant, whereas med school, you can definitely get full rides as well.

Julio Salas: But that isn't, I would say the norm or the common thing. Hence a lot of debt that is accumulated with med school. There are for short people that get full [00:38:00] scholarships, but maybe they still have to take out loans to live. Or they get somehow, I think maybe there might be now or even earlier, like where they also give some sort of stipend situation.

Julio Salas: But it's different in that sense where for the most part, PhDs are known to be what would be fully funded, uh, master's program. The funding is even less, and for the most part

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: For the,

Julio Salas: you have to pay for it, take out loans. Very few I think offer, um, like full tuition scholarships. But then again, even if you get a full tuition scholarship.

Julio Salas: You still might have to take out a loan to, to sort of live.

Julio Salas: And then I think one of the final things that's different, uh, and this is more PhD versus MD is that back to the structured thing of md, it's sort of like undergrad I think, where you're being told that you're given this, all this information and you're supposed to like memorize it and know it really well, you know, and then apply it to patients or different sort of settings.

Julio Salas: But the PhD, while you're learning so much. The [00:39:00] focus, especially like

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: especially

Julio Salas: in academia, is like you're producing knowledge, you're

Julio Salas: sort of creating new ideas. If you want to challenge ideas, you can. So it's very much, it isn't, yeah, it isn't. Like the whole point isn't to necessarily memorize everything and regurgitate things.

Julio Salas: It's definitely to make a contribution that is really like the goal of a PhD to create something that hasn't been done. Um, so I would say those are like sort of the three different things, like the structure.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: tructure,

Julio Salas: Um, the difference between more like memorization versus like producing know.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Great. So I have like two to three more questions for you today. Uh, the next question actually is a little bit different, but it's tied to what you mentioned earlier about, um, in your bio you said you're non-traditional, and then you talked about your trajectory and how when you were at Cornell you felt very much like an outsider, but but. Not, but, and yet you [00:40:00] still worked up the courage and the confidence to reach out to me to be on the

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: and you have worked up the courage and confidence to accomplish a lot of other things, even to. Pivot is a big deal because some

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: to pivot because of the, the fear and the shame of telling others like

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: shame of telling your aita have held you back

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: that pivot

Julio Salas: mm-Hmm.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So the question then is. You know, a lot of of my listeners, and I'm not gonna lie, sometimes I get stuck on this too, even though I know better, um, will struggle with what some people call imposter syndrome or imposter phenomenon. So I'm wondering have you, or how are you currently navigating

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: How, um. How do you manage this, especially given

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: your background, especially as a Latino in a predominantly white space at a top ranked [00:41:00] university, how, you know, what's given you the, the confidence

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: going, to keep meeting these milestones and to believe that you actually belong in these spaces?

Julio Salas: Hmm. question. You know, that's, it's, it's a very, it's a very common thing and it's, it's changed so much over time. Um, so there's a couple I think, answers to that, uh, question. And I think the first one is a more, I don't think it's a such a positive way to look at it, but, and, and it might not be the most helpful, but it's sort of like the sad reality for me at least, that.

Julio Salas: Helps. And I think it's, and I try to talk when I, when I meet with other students that are in a similar boat, I try to, this is one part of it is this idea that I am an outsider, I don't belong. Um, you know, you'll, you'll hear this, you'll, you'll probably hear a lot of people say like, these spaces weren't made for us and.

Julio Salas: There's this really good book by [00:42:00] sociologist Victoria Reyes called Academic Outsider, which is right here, stories of Exclusion and Hope. And you know, one of, she says a lot of great things. It's a really great book. Um, but one of the things I took from it was that, you know, if you, if you don't fit the mold of being sort of like middle, upper class, well.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: middle.

Julio Salas: You'll always be an outsider, you'll never fit in, you know? Um, and, and so the way I think about that is knowing that I'm like, okay, the point is not to fit in. And, and when I think about it, I also don't wanna fit in. I don't wanna, there's a lot of things where I'm like, I don't want to fit in. But it also, it's difficult because then on the, on the flip end of it, it's like, oh, you know.

Julio Salas: Julio dresses like this, it could maybe mean this, right? I, what I have felt a lot, especially now entering grad school, is this idea of stereotype threat. That's something that I do something, or the way I dress, it's gonna be like, oh, it's this sort of like poor inner city kid. You know, things like that.[00:43:00]

Julio Salas: But I think on the, on the flip end of it. I think the moments where I'm reminded why I should continue to be myself, irrespective of the potential consequences is when other students have told me things like, I've never seen someone dress like that. Or, you know, like, it's so cool to see, you know, someone that isn't sort of in the norm or you know, can, as I jokingly like to say.

Julio Salas: I enjoy and, and I enjoy sort of the time for the academic is, it's fun, but there's also, you know, as I like to say, with friends and I, and I mean this in the most endearing way, I kind of like to be like, like, I like to be like you. It's like, I also like to joke around and I like to think, take things like not seriously and I like to listen to certain music and you know, this year at Berkeley, I've also like to got into social and I really like that.

Julio Salas: All this other stuff where [00:44:00] to try to create a, a, a balance. So then when I, why the, the concept of this academic outsider, I think for me finally is one of the most important things is this idea of no matter what you do, you'll be an outsider. And so let's just say I fell to the pressures and I'm like, I'm gonna dress like these people.

Julio Salas: I'm gonna talk like these people. I'm gonna try to be like these people and I'll still be an outsider. I'll still be reminded

Julio Salas: that I don't, I'm, I'm different.

Julio Salas: So then I take the approach of might as well, knowing that that's gonna happen. Regardless, I'll be myself. The other thing I think is

Julio Salas: that gave this, and this happened at Cornell.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: happened,

Julio Salas: I realized, wow, you know, I remember one class

Julio Salas: I was with the valedictorian of one of the best boarding schools in the country, Exeter, which is in Massachusetts, and I went to, uh, what people would call maybe one of the [00:45:00] worst high schools in Queens, you know? And I remember that. I was just like, wow, how did we like both end up in this class?

Julio Salas: You know, like, or, or just thinking, I, I just would always think like, how did I end up here? You know, how did, how are these people here? How am I here? How am I here? And what gave me a lot of confidence is, and I say this also to students and when I meet with people that are similar boat or share some similar identities, is I could come into these people world and play this game that they're playing, but they cannot come into the world that I was in and play the game that I.

Julio Salas: And that I was just like, we're not even the same. We're different. You know, it's, and that for me at least, has given me an edge where I'm like, yeah, like I could do it, do this both. And as difficult as the journey has been, I also rather be on that end of knowing the things I know. And the one of the other things was in my [00:46:00] experience, and this is not, you know, maybe like applicable across.

Julio Salas: We had, I had like such,

Julio Salas: you know, as difficult as it was like rich life experiences.

Julio Salas: I was seeing some,

Julio Salas: some of the, what you would maybe consider, like the quote unquote normal people that should, and I saw that a lot of times, like they didn't have certain life skills that I think were important.

Julio Salas: You know, like they were so used to being well taken care of. Um, you know, like things like cleaning, like cooking, you know, or like just navigating.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: like navigating,

Julio Salas: know the street, you know, as I would say, um, and again, I, and I had those things and I would see other first friends that are like, had to work and navigate other stuff where I think that that is so important and those experiences need to be told because I think one of the weirdest things is.

Julio Salas: You know, of course like people aspire to be at these places like Cornell, Berkeley, [00:47:00] but that is such a small segment of the population, like those, you know, those experiences of being, working class, of having to deal with immigration, of dealing with like low paying jobs or like of not a good labor market.

Julio Salas: That's so much more common and you relate to other people's, the normal person you relate to. And then I think one of the final things that help is really your community.

Julio Salas: mean, you know, most of my friends

Julio Salas: and especially good friends, we're all on the same boat.

Julio Salas: all.

Julio Salas: kind of first gen, like low socioeconomic status, uh, not white, um, deal with immigration.

Julio Salas: Sort of similar, ideal, similar sort of experiences that. It's, it's almost for me, like it's armor. Like I go into the, these spaces and it's difficult sometimes to navigate academia or like predominantly white spaces. But then I come back [00:48:00] sort of to these people to remind me like, this is not normal.

Julio Salas: You know, like I just, we just had a spring, like a, sorry, a winter break, and I went to New York City and it was so good for me because

Julio Salas: I was just like. Around normal people that don't care about academics, that are not so, that are not like hyper analyzing the way you are, the way you speak, how you should present yourself.

Julio Salas: It's just people that

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: People

Julio Salas: with their day, I don't know, care. We're trying to buy food for the holidays to cook for their children, for their family members for.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: for their family friends. So I think,

Julio Salas: And it's not to say, don't get me wrong, I mean, like, I definitely sometimes feel like, oh, insecure, or, oh, did I say something that was considered not smart? Um, and I don't think that ever goes away. You know, some people will say, and I, and I, I agree, like the imposter syndrome or like doubting yourself, I don't think it ever goes away.

Julio Salas: I don't as, as much as my worth. [00:49:00] Um, through other ways also like therapy. You know, I've been gonna therapy since I was like 18. I'm 25 now, seven years. It's a huge difference that I've worked through a lot of things. So I think, and so with that, I think,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I think,

Julio Salas: yeah. And then the other part that I sort of think about the final part is like, and I've, I've said it in this way, which is also maybe not the best way, but I think sometimes in these spaces you almost have to be a.

Julio Salas: But what I mean by that is

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: by that is.

Julio Salas: you have to kind of not care. And, and, and, and I, and I, and I, and I, my caveat to that is it's unfortunate that it always falls on individuals to fix things instead of realizing how academia is a structure is the one that's wrong and not individuals are like, there's nothing wrong with me.

Julio Salas: It's the,

Julio Salas: the way that the academy treats me, the way the academy views me. So when I say the team are sort of not caring it, [00:50:00] you have to sort of become used to awkward conversations because

Julio Salas: a,

Julio Salas: you know, academia can be an awkward place. You have to get sort of comfortable with asking because if you don't ask.

Julio Salas: You know, you'll never know. And, and a lot of times you'll be surprised what asking can do. I mean, there's been so many opportunities

Julio Salas: that have occurred just by asking. And, and of course on the other side of it, there's also people will tell you no or people may not meet with you or people will be standoffish.

Julio Salas: I've also had a lot of those, but then I'm like, I think about all either the positive experiences, I'm like, okay, they don't want to, for whatever reason, like that's on them. Which, and then also not caring is this idea of externalizing things, right? So you could, you could, you could either view, like a lot of times I'll view academia as the problem and not me.

Julio Salas: And, and that doesn't mean like, I don't hold myself accountable in instances. But trying to do that

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: trying to do that

Julio Salas: is, is what's helpful. And

Julio Salas: even as I say all of this, the downside [00:51:00] is.

Julio Salas: Bigger policies, bigger forces, trying to help that. You know, there's probably some initiatives, don't get me wrong, but you know, a lot of times it falls on the individual, you know, if people are poor. A lot of times the government and the way it's framed is like something about them, something about this person.

Julio Salas: Instead of thinking, how are we treating these neighborhoods? What are we like, how have we disinvested, how, what are.

Julio Salas: So,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So.

Julio Salas: yeah, and I think the final thing is, which I sort of said this earlier and maybe it helpful to people, is like, there's always gonna be someone else watching, and they may not tell you

Julio Salas: that. Like, wow. Uh, insert any name, Julio, any other person just seeing you, [00:52:00] just interacting with you, or sharing resources or hearing from you.

Julio Salas: So much. I mean, I've had so many people that I've thanked, but also people that I've never met that just by observing them, by seeing the things they said, by reading their work, I was like, wow, like this is so special. Or like something I could be, you know, um, like this book, it's a very good reminder, like academic outsider.

Julio Salas: Wow. Like someone else is, is feeling something that's so similar. And I.

Julio Salas: And I, and I think, and, and I'm always, despite everything that's happened and everything that's going on in the world now, I still am an optimist and idealist. And so little by little things will get better and there's gonna be more, for example, Latino faculty, black faculty, first gen faculty, and, and across the board, any profession, um, and little by little things will hopefully get better.

Julio Salas: And I think I just see myself as being. [00:53:00] A part of just trying,

Julio Salas: because if it's not for me, it's like, if I don't believe this, then what am I doing it for? So like I, I, I see myself as, I think the, I think I see myself as this bridge, this bridge to trying to be better, better. As an academic, as a person, as a man in this world, and that could be better for my siblings, it could be better for my grandma,

Julio Salas: better

Julio Salas: for my friends, better for my community,

Julio Salas: better for future students,

Julio Salas: colleagues, peers.

Julio Salas: And so even if.

Julio Salas: Like a bridge could get worn out and you could get stepped on, right. Bridges get walked over and I could get stepped on and I could be harmed. And things can happen in like a face sort of maybe stereotyping or just, but it's all for this sort of greater good of just, you know, back to the intro, it sounds cliche, just trying to make the space better, the corners that I enter [00:54:00] better of this world.

Julio Salas: Um, and I think being driven by that. I'm always just reminded like there's this really good Kendrick Lamar lyrics lyric that says, you know, I'm sacrificing myself for the healing and I see myself that I, I resonate with that even if, again,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Again,

Julio Salas: negative things, it's, it's somehow gonna make things better.

Julio Salas: Maybe

Julio Salas: for me, I mean, I've had such amazing, wonderful opportunities, been to so many places I could have never imagined.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: never,

Julio Salas: Contributing

Julio Salas: and I love what I do. I feel so,

Julio Salas: so lucky. And I always say like, this is unimaginable. Like it's so very long-winded answer to try to get at the sort of imposter syndrome.

Julio Salas: But in short, it is very difficult and I think sadly it falls an individuals a lot, but hopefully like some of those things resonate in being in community. I'm like, every year [00:55:00] passes by, that becomes even more important, like just being surrounded by.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I feel like you already shared a lot of parting words, but, um, I'm curious if there's anything else you wanted to share or maybe some closing words of advice for first Gen Bipoc students who are still trying to decide between med school and grad school. Um, yeah. Any, any final words.

Julio Salas: Oh, that's, that's good. A lot of pressure with that question. Um, but let's see. I think one of the things is maybe that I don't, that I think was helpful that I heard, and I don't, I don't feel like it's kind of commonly told. Think about the process of

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: process

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: of.

Julio Salas: the route. So right med school is four years, the three plus years residency.

Julio Salas: Try to understand what that process looks like. I think try to understand what the PhD process looks like and also think, what are you gonna not only 'cause I think [00:56:00] about it as,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I think about it,

Julio Salas: when I think of a career, I think of what is it that I'm like, how can I realize a purpose of helping people, but also what do I enjoy?

Julio Salas: You know? Um, so I think when I think about the PhD process. As ambiguous as it can be. I like it. I like that process of the reading, thinking, writing, and sort of the, how I could take it my own direction. So I think try to understand the process and also think, what would you enjoy more? Um, and you could think about,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: you.

Julio Salas: you know, I feel like it would be, you could think about the financial aspect of it for sure.

Julio Salas: And, you know, um, you know, like, I'm not really gonna make. You could say until like, um, when I, after the PhD, which in six years I'd be 31. Right? So

Julio Salas: in some ways it comes at a cost. Same thing with med school. You know, it comes at a cost of loans and you can try to think okay, like make the most sense with your situation as well.

Julio Salas: Everyone has a different situation. [00:57:00] Um, and so I don't want to say like, oh, you should do this because of this or that, how that impact. Um, and I think,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I

Julio Salas: is. Sort of how I live, but it's also risky because I don't have, I am my own safety net, you know, I'm also my family safety net. Um, and so it's risky.

Julio Salas: And what, it's risky because, you know, I'm still at a point where a small left turn could blow things up, uh, in a negative way. But I also have the mindset of. This is only one life, I try to think, what am I not gonna regret and what am I gonna get the most joy out of doing? And,

Julio Salas: you know, being like, it's gonna make, it's made me proud in, in, in hindsight that I made such a big decision.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: such

Julio Salas: Such an important decision, a difficult one. And it turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made because I trusted [00:58:00] myself considering everything that had happened as well. Right. And doing this like pros and cons list. Um, so I think I'd also try to, would say maybe like, think, I think a lot about like, oh, when my time comes, you know, when I'm like 80 years old, or like, what am I gonna be proud of, you know?

Julio Salas: So I think it's a balancing act for sure. Right. Balancing what are your passions and like how does that map out to the process of grad school? What are like the financial sort of obligations, especially again, like if you're first gen, if you're low income, if you're an immigrant family, if you're like the head of household and you have to support things, um, think about that as well.

Julio Salas: And then I think the other part is also think about yourself.

Julio Salas: Oh, that's the one. Oh. That's one final piece. You know, a lot of times, especially when you're first, uh, you know, this is generalizing. If you're first gen or if you're more like in a,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You're more like

Julio Salas: you grow up or you're reared in a way that's very family heavy, for example, like [00:59:00] I was, it can be very easy to not follow.

Julio Salas: Your own dreams or passions because you always have to think about that. And I think that's a good thing. I'm not saying

Julio Salas: don't think about, you know, either your parents or your siblings or your friends. Definitely think about them. But also, I don't even like to say selfishly 'cause I don't think it's selfish, but also

Julio Salas: prioritize yourself.

Julio Salas: And so even if,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: even if

Julio Salas: you know for me, and I had told this to my grandma. I want you to know I'm not gonna make any good amount of money until I'm over 30. And, and, and that's just the

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: test

Julio Salas: I'm taking. I could have gone another route and, and pursued sort of a career that out of college would've gave me six figures.

Julio Salas: But I knew I wouldn't be happy

Julio Salas: and I knew. So it's definitely a balancing act of, you know, your situation, the process, and sort of trying to reduce regrets, I think. Um. Yeah, but it is a difficult question to answer for sure.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: question. [01:00:00] Those are some wise words of advice for folks that want to connect with

Julio Salas: Mm-Hmm.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: What's the best way for them to reach you?

Julio Salas: So LinkedIn.

Julio Salas: for sure. Um, and then my email, which is

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: email,

Julio Salas: Fernando at Berkeley. Um, I'm

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Um,

Julio Salas: responsive on both and I'm always happy to talk to people, especially now that.

Julio Salas: Well, for the most part, PhD admissions are done slash now they're trying to pick people. You know, I've been meeting with a lot of people and it's always, it brings me a lot of joy when I meet with other students that are interested and I'm, and then that's one of the things I always make time for, and even more than thinking, reading and writing about research.

Julio Salas: So LinkedIn and my email are.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Great. I'll make sure to include that in the show notes as well. I wanna thank you so much, Julio, for coming today and sharing your amazing stories. At one point I was like, I feel like I'm sitting here watching a movie, all the twists and [01:01:00] turns.

Julio Salas: Yeah, so many.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: But, um, I, uh, I know that the listeners are gonna get a lot, a lot from your insights and from your, from your story. So thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and knowledge

Julio Salas: Thank you so much.

Julio Salas: Thank you so much. Thank you for making time. I really, really appreciate.​

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Thanks so much for joining me in the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. If you like what you heard, here are four ways you can support the show. The first is to make sure you're subscribed and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. The second way is to get your copy of my free Grad School Femtoring Resource Kit, which includes essential information to prepare for and navigate grad school.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You can access it at the link in today's show notes. The third way to support my show is to follow me on social media. You can find me on [01:02:00] Instagram with the handle at gradschoolfemtoring and on LinkedIn by searching my name. The last way to show your love is to sign up to work with me via my Grad School Femtoring Academy, my group coaching program for first gen BIPOCs seeking to work on their personal growth and gain sustainable productivity skills.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You can learn more at gradschoolfemtoring. com slash academy. Thanks again for listening and until next time.

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