Shalika Mathan


While pursuing her degree in anthropology as an undergraduate, Shalika Mathan wasn’t exactly sure where she’d go in her life or what she’d ultimately do. It seemed like she had so many options and studying anthropology was at least a great way to keep her sensitive and open to all the possibilities presenting themselves. In fact, to this day she sees the lessons that she learned as an undergrad as pivotal.

But when she finally decided it was a career in medicine she wanted to pursue, Shalika knew she had some academic requirements to fulfill before submitting her applications to medical school. She also felt raising her GPA might be decisive to improving her chances. Searching online for a way to meet these requirements, she discovered the GSAL program at the Graham School. She applied, was accepted, and moved to Chicago right away to take advantage of the University of Chicago education.

“The GSAL program really helped me out,” Shalika says. “Not only did it let me catch up with my peers applying to medical school, but the Graham School program was super welcoming. They had lots of events where I could network and meet other students, and I also had the opportunity to go to lectures where I connected with anthropology professors as well as well-known professors on the medical faculty. These last in several cases had actually authored the textbooks I was using in class.”

Starting in the spring of 2015, then, Shalika began taking classes through the GSAL program. She took classes in organic chemistry, immunology, and biochemistry as a way to fulfill the requirements she needed for her medical school applications. She was able to raise her GPA along the way as well, while also taking additional classes in economics and accounting as a way to give her insight into other possible career paths if medicine didn’t work out in the end. Throughout this, she says, the Graham School advisors were extremely attentive and eager to make sure she was doing well and staying on the track she’d set for herself.

“Everyone at the Graham School helped me tremendously in achieving my career goals,” Shalika says. “In the end, I was accepted into several medical schools in the Caribbean and I decided to attend Saba. I applied in November, learned I was accepted in December, and I started classes in January. Everything’s going very well so far and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity the GSAL program gave me to get here.”