Author and head Editor
Rob's a huge nerd. It's okay to call him one. He readily accepts his fate.
As captain of the nerds in high school, Rob was a nationally ranked debater and president of the chorus. At the University of Michigan, Rob made the transition to a more socially acceptable form of nerdiness, as he served as music director, business manager, and president of The Michigan GMen, an all-male a cappella group.
For almost a decade, Rob nerded out about standardized testing, teaching students and training instructors at The Princeton Review. He met his wife on a Princeton Review company trip in the Dominican Republic. They still take the SAT, for fun, just to see who will get the higher score (most recently, Alice won - her 2380 beat Rob's 2340). What Rob loved most about working at The Princeton Review, though, was that he got to help students work through their stress and anxiety about standardized testing and achieve scores they never thought they could.
When he got to Southern California, Rob was overwhelmed with requests from Princeton Review students to help them with their applications, so he founded Passport Admissions in 2007 to give students the advice they desperately wanted. Many of the requests were from students applying to medical school, and though Rob had not taken a science class since high school, he decided to dive in and learn everything he could. As he had done with debate, a cappella, and test prep, he completely ensconced himself in the subject. He attended conferences on medical school admissions, read every book he could get his hands on, and started working with more and more students through the daunting process.
Rob now calls himself a medical school admissions nerd. He regularly presents on medical school admissions in San Diego and across the country. Rob is the lead author of The Savvy Pre-Med, a blog devoted to medical school admissions. As of 2014, Passport has worked with 150 pre-meds and counting. Along the way, Rob has seen the anxiety of the application process turn otherwise normal people into complete stress balls. He's also seen the joys of students who finally get in who never thought they could. Rob has built Passport in this image - a group of cool nerds who love nothing more than helping students achieve their best.
In his free time, Rob enjoys hiking, scuba diving, playing guitar, and spending time with his family. He also enjoys - what else? - playing nerdy board games.
AUTHOR AND EDITOR
My name is Ryan Kelly, and I've taught thousands of students to write better, first as an English professor and now as a medical school editor at Passport Admissions. I’m the son of a family physician, but I’ve always felt more comfortable fixing people’s words than their bodies. I like to think of myself as a rhetorical guru--someone who can help pre-meds isolate the heart of a story and make it compelling to an audience. But in order to write a good personal statement, you must have a story that’s worth telling in the first place. Trust me, I know. In fact, I bet my story as a writer isn’t that much different than yours as a pre-med. Don’t believe me?
How am I like a pre-med? Ha! At first glance, I am the complete opposite: artsy, whimsical, a Type Z personality (yeah I made that up; deal with it, Type A’s). But early on as a writer (and a person), I shared a problem familiar to many pre-meds: I tried to please everybody. I experimented with any story or style imaginable--realism, magical realism, surrealism, every kind of -ism--anything that people told me readers would like. I started viewing writing like a game; maybe if I emulate such-and-such aesthetic or showcase the right hot-button topic, then I’ll finally get my big break and be able to write about whatever I want.
I was seeing my work as a means to an end, rather than its own rewarding process. Like pre-meds who grasp at any volunteering, research, or shadowing they can find, I thought I could become a writer just by pleasing the right people and following some prescribed method. The truth is, I had no voice of my own. There was nothing to distinguish me from the millions of other novice writers. I needed to discover the kind of writing that made me feel alive, that gave me purpose, that let me most authentically express my ideas to the world. I also needed a dedicated focus, as opposed to constantly shifting my objectives. When I directed my writing towards my strengths and passions, I found my voice, and the publications slowly began to accumulate.
I would urge pre-meds to do the same. Don’t be afraid to take risks and deviate from the typical pre-med path. Don’t do something just to fill your resume or because you think it will sound impressive. Don’t let the mob mentality of others scare you into conforming, or you’ll never figure out your identity. Feel free to experiment, but at some point, you’ll need to focus. Depth beats breadth every time, whether in writing, life, or medicine. Find what makes you you, and dive into it wholeheartedly. Then you’ll have a story that’s worth telling.