Check out the new story in our Aspirers in the Spotlight series featuring Ioana-Medeea Moraru! Medeea graduated Aspire High School in 2018 and is now in her second year at the “Iuliu Hațieganu” University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca. On her way to become a doctor, Medeea combines studying with learning new languages, playing the guitar and engaging in charity work.
Giving a sneak peak into her life, Medeea kindly shares with us one of her dear memories: “I have a very dear memory when I was in my first year at med school in Cluj and it was about Christmas Time. I was invited to be part of a charity event and to play a Christmas song on my guitar, alongside other talented students from Cluj. It was such a fulfilling and uplifting feeling to be part of it!”.
Playing the guitar and hiking have also many things in common, because what would a bonfire in the mountains feel like without any guitar songs? It has this amazing power of bringing people together and I love that.Ioana-Medeea Moraru
Currently, Medeea’s vivacity is channelled on student organisations. Being constantly on the lookout to bond with new people and to interact with like-minded students, I chose to be part of some projects organised by “Organizatia Studentilor Medicinisti” in Cluj. Her love for people led her to join Medistic, the university’s theatre group, and “Sănătate în pași de dans”, a society that aims at encouraging a healthier lifestyle through dance.
Aspire is about family. If you want to be part of this family, if you want to improve your public speaking skills, if you want to freely speak your mind, Aspire is the best place where you can achieve all your desires.Ioana-Medeea Moraru
- What has influenced you most to become the person you are today?
High school definitely shaped my personality in many different ways; I was part of many projects and extracurricular activities, such as:
As a member of the school’s own television program called “TeleAS”, I experienced how it feels like to be next to well-known Romanian writers, teachers, and even doctors, striving to control my emotions as I was interviewing them. I will never forget my excitement while interviewing one of the most famous and outstanding neurosurgeons in Romania, Alexandru Vlad Ciurea.
Tourist guide at the Black Church in Brașov – an experience I will never forget. I still remember the great emotions before sitting the exam in order to become a volunteer guide and the uplifting feeling while being in front of big groups of tourists explaining and showing them religious objects, paintings and statues. The real challenge was being able to switch between Romanian, German and English with ease, but I got used to it quite fast.
At the end of my 11th grade, I heard about Aspire from a very close friend, Flavia Taraș. She was very kind to encourage me to apply for the Aspire summer camp. I soon felt part of this amazing Aspire family.
Aspire also gave me the opportunity to bond with new people, who soon became close friends. It was very interesting that we were so different from each other- a couple of us dreamed of becoming doctors, while others were more interested in starting a new business in the near future. Either way, each of us had a dream to make a change in the world and this brought us together.
Willing to pursue a medical career, I never had time to reflect on what entrepreneurship and leadership actually mean. Aspire helped me consolidate my knowledge regarding these facts, as well as business topics – I find this knowledge useful for a future doctor, especially in order to become a skilled, competent, professional hospital manager.
I will always remember my first day at Aspire: the staff members welcomed all of us with great warmth and amazing applause. While we were entering the room all of us were “Standing in the Hall of Fame” (You know the song, right?)Medeea’s first day at Aspire
I am so thankful to my parents for having pushed me to pick up new languages since I was in kindergarten. Learning English, German and French from a very early age, I’ve always been more passionate about German. I worked hard in order to understand it and speak it fluently. Many Olympiads and contests were on my list in high school, but one of the greatest achievements I will never forget was winning the 3rd prize at the German National Olympiad in the 11th grade.
My 2nd year of the study started with new challenges and responsibilities. As there are multiple undergraduate student research projects, it is an honour that I was chosen to become the new coordinator of the Physiology Research Project of our university. I am looking forward to organising new conferences on captivating medical topics and getting in touch with exceptional speakers, doctors and medical students curious and passionate about the physiologic mechanisms existing in our bodies.
2. What determined you to pursue medicine?
Traveling is also a major part of my life. Participating in international camps helped me improve my communication skills and taught me the importance of being actively involved in debates on various topics. Two years ago, I participated in a camp held at the Chelsea Independent College in London. It was that moment in my life when I realised how much I wanted to pursue medicine.
There, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the “Centre of the Cell”, a science education centre located within working biomedical research laboratories, to get hands-on experience in the lab and to participate in my first heart and kidney dissection. I’ve worked hard with my fellow international students on a project regarding neurostimulation (focused mainly on transcranial magnetic stimulation), a medical field I am very interested in.
2. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
There are two lessons I’ve learned in my life so far:
- Determination. If you make a very important decision in your life, then go for it without looking back. There are many stressful moments in our lives when we are faced with major decisions. Once the decision is made, it is very important to courageously confront the difficulties that may appear on your way and achieve your goal. If you are always irresolute in whatever choice you make and you fear facing problems in your way of achieving your purpose, then you will finally get disorientated and drift along.
- Not setting big goals from the start, but starting with small steps in achieving big goals in life. I would like to give a clear example of this piece of advice. I am a doctor and I set a very big goal for myself: to discover the most efficient medication to treat cancer. I strive every day to achieve my goal, by spending most of my spare time in the research lab. At the end of the day, I still haven’t discovered that one magic treatment, and I am very disappointed with myself. But what have I overlooked? During the day, I have saved many lives of people suffering from cancer by giving them various treatments. This helped me improve my overall medical knowledge- what worked best for them and what I should be aware of when trying to discover a better medicine. These are small steps that should lead us toward fulfilling big dreams in life.
3. What are your non-negotiables?
Probably the most important non-negotiable would be …chocolate. No, I’m just kidding.
Some of my non-negotiables would be:
- Being in bed by 11 pm
- Reading before going to sleep
- Sleeping no less than 8 hours at night (sleeping is very important to me especially during exam periods)
- Scheduling exercise 45 minutes every day
- Taking a 1-hour lunch break
- Consuming a wide variety of vegetables every day (and at least one fruit)
- Spending 10 minutes every evening completing a list of tasks due for the next day
4. What was the hardest decision you ever had to make?
One important decision I made was in the 12th grade when I had to choose where to study medicine- whether to study abroad or in Romania. It was a very tough period for me when I had to carefully weigh up my options, meditate on what would be best for me, get well informed, and talk to my friends until late at night about studying abroad or in my country.
5. Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
I think that most of the students choosing to study medicine have at least one moment in their lives when they want to give up and reconsider everything. Although I was firmly convinced that medicine is the right path for me, I was hit by the enormous quantity of information I had to logically understand and remember during my first semester in med school, especially during my first exam session. I felt completely overwhelmed and I panicked.
How was my brain capable of dealing with all that information in such a short period of time?
I took a deep breath and I meditated. I knew that I wouldn’t see myself pursuing another career except for a medical one. I knew that I would have regretted giving up. I simply felt that this is my calling and that I have to overcome these negative thoughts (determination, remember?). I took all the subjects step by step, trying to patiently understand the mechanisms and to learn them logically, to interconnect them and not to learn them by heart, as many people think students do.
It was possible. I was capable of completing all my exams successfully in the end.
6. What is that one book that has influenced you the most?
“When breath becomes air” by Paul Kalanithi. I have no words to describe it. It is simply breathtaking. Have you ever wondered how it feels like to be a neurosurgeon treating human beings suffering one day and being a patient with severe lung cancer struggling to live on the next?
This is the story of Paul Kalanithi who died at the early age of 36. His story impressed me the most. The book does not treat only medical facts. It is about Life. Death. Time. Family. It is all about the question: What makes life worth living in the face of death?
7. Why should people apply for an Aspire experience? What did you gain by being part of this community?
If I were to choose three words to describe Aspire, these would be Teamwork, Leadership, and Change.
Here you feel free to dream. Here you get to fly towards your dream. Here you meet people willing to help you achieve your dream.
Aspire is about people – the speakers, your fellow colleagues, and the whole Aspire team is always there to give you a helping hand when needed. For me, it was a great honour to meet and engage in interesting discussions with Steve Jarding and Sam Potolicchio.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” (John Lennon)