“It feels a little surreal. We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, and it’s finally here. All the hard work we put in, it definitely paid off.”
Erin Kim accurately summarized the feelings of the rest of JABSOM’s Class of 2027. All 77 first-year students received their white coats at the medical school’s annual ceremony last Friday at Kaimukī High School.
In the academic medicine community, a White Coat Ceremony represents the beginning of a medical student’s journey to becoming a physician. The white coat is draped on each student by a physician mentor or a physician from their family. For Erin Kim and her twin sister Lauren, the evening was something they’d been dreaming about nearly their entire lives.
“There’s nothing else we pictured ourselves doing,” Lauren said.
With more than 2200 applicants vying for 77 spots, competition for solo applicants is stiff. Two entering the same class from the same family is a true feat.
“We’re fortunate to be here at the same time,” Lauren said. “I never thought we’d have this opportunity to stay here and develop our skills together.”
Lauren and Erin were graduates of JABSOM’s ʻImi Hoʻōla Post-Baccalaureate Program, which puts students from underserved communities on the path to medical school after they complete an intensive one-year deep dive into concepts and principles in the sciences and humanities.
Via ʻImi Hoʻōla, the Kim twins got a preview of the rigorous curriculum at JABSOM. They made it through ʻImi together, and they’re ready to face the challenges of JABSOM’s four-year program.
“It feels great to know that there’s someone with you, who’s your rock, your anchor, especially through the hard times,” Erin said. “Lauren is someone I would study with, and we would keep each other going and keep that motivation up.”
The twins’ bond has been unbreakable to this point. The sisters say it’s reassuring to know when they lean on each other over the next four years, they’ll know what the other is experiencing because they’re navigating the journey together.
“Whenever we feel unmotivated or need that encouragement, it’s always nice to turn to Erin, talk about it, study together, take breaks. We’ll go through this together for the long journey, even past medical school, so we’ll always have each other’s backs,” Lauren said.
Last Friday, Kaimukī High School’s auditorium was packed with friends and families of the 77 incoming students. Through the crowd, the twins were seeking out one particularly beaming face—their mother’s.
“Our mom has been our biggest supporter since day 1,” Erin said. “Since we were little girls, she knew we always wanted to become doctors. I think she was super proud seeing us on the stage together.”
It’s too early to decide which specialty the twins will pursue, but the desire to stay in Hawaiʻi is a shared goal.
“Family sparked this dream,” Lauren said. “We have such close ties with our families. We’ve had hardships, and through those, too, being able to overcome the losses we’ve experienced here and there, we’re now in a position where we can help those in similar situations or who feel helpless. That’s something I want to do to give back to my community and do that for Hawaiʻi.”