Formerly Alpha Omega ¬

Bounce Back with Rida Hanna

My tale of resilience isn’t a typical one. It is a tale of ongoing resilience, because I I failed multiple times. But that didn’t stop me.


For me, failures are not roadblocks that cannot be overcome. They’re hurdles. I tackled a few hurdles though, but I knew I could build the strength and endurance over time to be able to jump over again.


When I was younger, I had these stupid dreams to be a model or a singer. When I was six, though, my mum suffered a stroke.


What drew me to want to study medicine was not her incident, though. It was the smaller things. Like when she forgets what my name is, mixes me up with her sister or realising she can’t read anymore (even though she’d skipped three grades at school).


As I got older, I would look up the scans she’d receive from her doctor, to understand her condition. Then, when I entered high school and understood Biology, my interest was enlivened.


In high school, I didn’t do 8 hours of study every day per se, but I worked during class, and went beyond what was expected of me to ask my teachers questions.

Truth be told, I didn’t try hard to excel at school.


Near the end of high school, I became exhausted. For over a year, sleep was replaced by anxiety attacks, as I grew used to waking up 8 times in one night.


Despite receiving a 98.85 ATAR, though, I didn’t do my best.


Yes, this mark was high, but medicine required a really high mark. Added to this fact was that I received a 56 in my UMAT. Here, I faced my first hurdle and with this came the hard learned lesson that I was cocky with my intelligence.


Despite being told otherwise, I decided to study medical science. By choosing this pathway, I knew it would force me to dedicate myself in pursuing medicine.


I went through the slow progress of focusing on UMAT to receive 89, which was a 33-percentile increase from my first attempt.


89, though, got me one interview at the University of Newcastle. Here, I faced contention between wanting to do medicine because it satisfies that childhood desire to help my mum yet the only place offering it to me is somewhere so distant that I wouldn’t be able to help anyway.


I didn’t want to admit I didn’t want to leave my mother. So, instead of having to reject it, I went to the interview for the mere experience and didn’t get accepted.

In hindsight, I self-sabotaged myself; this was my second limb of resilience

My third attempt at UMAT was properly executed. My friend and I practised consistently, and I finally understood what the test was asking of me.

I received a 97 percentile this time – a 41-percentile increase from my first attempt, and received offers at every university I applied for.


Another element of resilience I faced?

I completely forgot about the whole other obstacle of being interviewed. Logically, if you don’t know why you want to do medicine, why would anyone want to believe you?


My tutor at Chalkwall, Stephen, helped me with this interview prep, and I think this is a testament to how much the tutoring company cares. Their main element of learning was not necessarily the academics: it was teaching students how to be better reflections of themselves. Doing well academically is just a subset of that.

The tutors embody the inherent goodness that they want to teach their students.


Stephen would ask me questions that would gear me to think about the importance of medicine. By the end of practising for interviews, I was so confident that I began to help others too.


On December 22, 2017 (I still remember the date), I received an email that said I had made into the lateral entry scheme at UNSW. Next year I’ll be doing my honours, choosing to focus on liver cancer at Liverpool Hospital and then I will complete three years of medicine.


A year before I received this email, I was crying to my mother about how I was never going to make it into medicine. It was the first time I stopped being cocky and started to consider that I might not be intelligent enough, or I might not be a good enough person. That was when I realised that my final hurdle was myself.


I wasn’t ready to do medicine. But I used my resilience to be able to be ready to study this course and I was willing to work for it.


Despite my only recent success, I’ve been able to help my mother every step of the journey. When I started uni, she would wake up with night terrors. But when she went to the first cardiologist, they dismissed her concerns. I did my readings, though, and came across a syndrome called ACS – and so I explained it to her. The power of what I said was not my medical input, but my input in empowering her to visit another doctor, where she was indeed diagnosed with ACS.

Now she is pain-free.


I realised then that if I can use my knowledge to help her, I can help other people in that way as well.


Resilience is the best way to reveal yourself what you need to learn and to become the best person you can be. It is about taking failures and being completely acceptable of them. It’s bouncing back.

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