We all have people in our lives who we admire: perhaps a friend, family member, or mentor. Often, they provide advice and serve as guides in our lives. I received special advice from a mentor that was so powerful it changed my life. It was one of those rare and unique moments that stays with you forever and shapes who you are. I embraced his advice in such a way that it became a hallmark of my personality, and it continues to play an important role in my daily decision-making process and performance.
My mentor is the deputy director of a biomedical research institute in Panama where I did a summer internship. On the last day of the internship he offered to drive me to the airport. While we were in the car and he started telling me about how proud he is of his two daughters. He continued telling me that his older daughter wanted to become a physician, just like him, and he was very happy because both shared a passion for medicine. Then, he told me about his younger daughter who was pursuing a career in literature. The tone in his voice turned thoughtful and warm. He continued, “Even though I would have liked for her to be a doctor, too, I support her interest in literature and encourage her to be the best at it. In the same manner, I encourage you to be the best at whatever you decide to do in life.”
That was the first time that the phrase “be the best” meant something more important to me than being better ranked among a group of people or being the name at the top of a list. I recognized that what he meant was to work to be one’s very best self every day. After reflecting on this, I realized that I was not living to my full potential, and decided I wanted to be more diligent and passionate in my every day activities.
This advice became applicable to everything I do. For example, when I studied for the MCAT, I pushed myself to prepare as thoroughly as possible. I designed a study plan that, even though it required a lot of discipline since I was studying and working a full time job, prepared me to perform well in the exam. (To learn more about my study strategy visit “How I Prepared for the MCAT Exam”).
When I need to study for a class that I find difficult or that is not of my particular interest, I’ve learned to embrace the challenge and find the motivation to still do my best. In the end, I’ve found my hard work pays off, if not always in the outcome, in learning to be more resilient. My goal is to fully engage with any task and at every role I play in my life. Be the best son, sibling, student, employee, neighbor, citizen, human being, etc. I’ve found that when I truly do my best I always feel accomplished no matter the outcome.
To be the best means to be thankful for this life and take advantage of the opportunities it offers. It means to work the hardest and to use all of your resources. It means to be proud of who you are and what you have done. Just be your best!
Munir H. Buhaya
Munir H. Buhaya grew up in El Paso, TX – Juarez, MX border. In 2015, he graduated with a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Texas at El Paso. Currently, he is a post-baccalaureate fellow at the National Institutes of Health in the Laboratory of Malaria Immunology and Vaccinology. He is passionate about vaccine development and infectious diseases, specially neglected tropical diseases. Additionally, Munir is interested in the advancement of minority groups in STEM and he is an advisor at the SACNAS NIH Chapter. His hobbies include soccer, dancing, drawing and painting, and reading; he believes it’s very important to foster a healthy mind and body. You can follow him on Twitter @munirbuhaya.
This blog post was prepared or accomplished by Munir H. Buhaya in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the United States government.