John Grunyk

Pre-Health Core Studies ‘15


Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania ‘19
University of Pennsylvania, Pre-Health Programs, 2015
Yale University, Bachelor of Arts, History, 2010

As an excellent student and high-school athlete, John Grunyk was recruited for rowing by some of the top universities. However, the Chicago-area native thought that attending Yale University and being able to row on the varsity crew team was the best opportunity for him. He knew Yale would have a demanding academic program, but also offered a community that fostered teamwork and challenged individuals to reach their potential.

John’s studies in history, with a focus on Latin American culture and nationalism provided him with insights into understanding people and why they do what they do. After graduation, John wanted to continue examining human decision-making, so he moved to New York City to work as a brand strategy consultant. He loved his role because he enjoyed working as an advisor and partner to his clients, seeking solutions to difficult business questions.

After three years on the job, John became interested in making a more of an impact on people’s lives. He was drawn towards medicine and decided to volunteer for two weeks with International Service Learning in Costa Rica. That was when he was sure he wanted to pursue a career as a physician.

“Even though Nana (my grandmother) always told me I should become a doctor, I was a little intimidated by medicine. But as I was assisting in providing medical care to uninsured Costa Ricans and immigrants, I saw that becoming a doctor would allow me to do all that I love: be dedicated, work on a team, problem-solve and make a tangible difference in someone’s life.

I talked with a lot of people and a friend of mine told me about Penn’s Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Health Programs. I looked into the Core Studies program and saw it would provide me with the necessary science coursework. I applied and was accepted in the summer of 2013. In two weeks, I left my job, packed up my apartment and moved to Philadelphia.

Penn has a great community of people who come from all different backgrounds. Everyone is willing to work together to study and tackle problems. The collaboration that takes place among six or seven students in the group is remarkable.

Mentorship is so important to any program and, here, the second you put your foot through the door, a faculty member wants to help. Your classes are right next-door to the medical campus, making it easy to take advantage of all the clinical and research opportunities.

I was lucky enough to work with the Chairman of the Department of Dermatology, Dr. George Cotsarelis. The position allowed me to continue to use the skills I had developed in consulting, while also providing me the opportunity to shadow physicians to learn more about the medical field and research.

The Journal Club is a great way to step away from the minutia of studying to see what is going on in a particular field and learn new things. And the Post-Baccalaureate Society, which I am president of, is always jump-starting ways to help people in the program get to know one another and the city of Philadelphia.

Most importantly, I was able to take advantage of the linkages and was accepted into Penn’s School of Medicine. I am not sure whether I want to go into emergency medicine, to work in a fast-paced environment with diverse populations on a variety of medical issues, or focus on orthopedics, in order to help athletes reshape their lives after an injury.

I never thought my life would go like this. Thanks, Nana.”

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Experience is essential

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