For Omar and Brenda Medina, being married in med school has not been an obstacle. "I asked Brenda to marry me as soon as I thought she would say yes," says Omar, who had just finished his second year in the dual-degree PRIME program. Brenda had completed her third year in the Charles R. Drew Medical Education Program, which addresses the health needs of underserved communities.
And there was no question for them that it was the right time to tie the knot.
How they met
Omar and Brenda met after they both graduated pre-med from college. According to Omar, they "instantly clicked," but Brenda left to attend the David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) at UCLA and they lost touch. As fate would have it, they met again at a conference. And because Omar had just been accepted to DGSOM, too, he asked her to dinner that evening.
"I still get goosebumps thinking about that night. I had no intention of falling in love, but it was all over the moment I saw her," Omar says. "We had the most amazing conversation about life, family and interests, and nothing in the world existed except for us. I drove home that night and told my mom 'I'm going marry that girl.' We have been inseparable ever since."
Living the life
Because Brenda is a pediatrics intern at DGSOM, her workload is significant — so much so that Omar and she work opposite schedules and only have time to share a kiss in the parking lot. When they're not together, they strengthen their relationship by leaving notes, preparing meals and becoming familiar with the other's schedule so they can make the most of the moments they are in each other's company.
Ultimately, Omar and Brenda attribute their mutual support to having the same priorities. "It helps that we come from families with similar values, so it feels like we prioritize the same things: our faith, one another, our families [and] our work," Omar states.
Amid all the demands of medical school, however, Omar and Brenda do support and make time for each other. According to Brenda, "We study together and make sure that we still do the things we enjoy, like going to the movies, spending time with family and taking our dog to the beach. We also have a running list of adventures like helicopter rides, surfing and road trips that [help] us feel connected with life."
Through thick and thin
Omar was surprised to meet so many other married students at UCLA. "Our friends are all in different stages of life," he says. "Some are married, some are not. Some have children, some don't." Omar and Brenda are grateful to have one another as they follow their dream of becoming excellent physicians in their respective fields. "I think it is a blessing to share some of the most important years of my career with my wife. Medical school adds many challenges and pressures, and being married during this time provides me the unwavering support that I need to keep me going."
Becoming an exceptional healthcare provider isn't limited by marital status; whether students are single or married in med school, they can be successful with enough dedication and effort.
By Kyleigh Roessner