New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Life outside pre-med: How four students balance hobbies and homework

Some might think pre-med students are all work and no play, but these four CAS students suggest otherwise.

If you’ve walked into Bobst Library at 4 a.m., or any other hour of the day, odds are you’ve passed by a pre-med student poring over their laptop, eyes glued to the screen with a Red Bull energy drink in hand. While there is no pre-med program at NYU, there is a pre-health curriculum that pre-med students of any major must take. Still, from demanding coursework and midterms to clinical hours and shadowing outside the classroom, pre-med students have an “all work, no play” reputation. For some students though, hobbies and extracurriculars are integral to balancing the stress of their intense workload and medical school requirements. From arts to athletics, here’s how four pre-med students fight the stereotype and find balance.

Bryce Lexow

A man in a purple sweatshirt and shorts looks off in the distance with his legs outstretched. He is sitting on a grass field in front of a bench with an overhang and a green scoreboard.
Bryce Lexow on the field. (Photo by Vincent Dusovic, Courtesy of NYU Athletics)

For junior Bryce Lexow, who’s currently studying psychology and biology, medical school has been his dream since the age of 12. Alongside his interest in medicine, Lexow has been playing soccer for most of his life, and he now plays for the NYU men’s soccer team, a necessary reprieve from his busy school schedule. 

“The guys on the NYU team are cool, and we are all very close,” Lexow said. “It’s nice going out to the field for two hours, totally forgetting about school.”

In his sophomore year, Lexow was one of the team’s leading scorers, with eight goals and one assist in the 2022 season. By the end of the season, Lexow had also accumulated 990 minutes of playing time. Since this came on top of his already rigorous pre-med course load, time management and dedication became essential. 

“Having an allotted time in my day where I have to show up and play the sport I love with all of my friends allowed me to see that we really do have enough time,” Lexow said.

Though he has a hefty schedule, he wouldn’t have it any other way. Soccer has not only helped him connect with other students, some of whom became his close friends, but it has also given him a necessary space to relax after a busy day of classes. 

“The few missed hours of study a day is highly outweighed by the increase in mental health and joy brought to you by letting loose and doing something that you are interested in,” Lexow said. “Your mind can use the rest from school work, and physical activity is also a great way to increase memory and concentration, which can help your studying turn into quality over quantity.”

Kurt Tio 

A person in a white shirt and beige and brown jacket and black pants holds a brown guitar.
Kurt Tio plays his guitar in his apartment. (Rin Qi for WSN)

As a senior majoring in chemistry, Kurt Tio finds time outside of pre-med courses to dedicate effort to one of his other passions — music. 

“I’ve been taking piano classes since I was 6,” Tio said. “Ever since I was little, it’s been my way to understand people’s emotions and also my own.”  

Tio has since learned the guitar and now owns several in his apartment. He also composes his own instrumental music digitally and is the president of Rhythmic Impulse, NYU’s Korean drumming club.

For Tio, engaging with art has allowed him to introduce creativity into his academic life. Stepping outside the strict molds of a pre-med student, he is able to relieve stress and learn about the world differently than he would in the classroom. He believes that pursuing a creative passion outside of pre-med is not only important for one’s mental health, it is also beneficial in the classroom for lab work and research. 

“When you develop the creativity to start making your own music, it sort of leaks into other parts of your life — like coming up with research questions,” Tio said. “Being able to draw from other sources of knowledge will make your final product better.”

Yukino Wakatsuki 

A line of women in white-and-purple striped jerseys and purple shorts standing on a grass field.
Yukino Wakatsuki on the field. (Photo by Vincent Dusovic, Courtesy of NYU Athletics)

A sophomore biochemistry major, Yukino Wakatsuki plays soccer and is a starter on the NYU women’s soccer team.

“I like having something competitive in my life,” Wakatsuki said. “Soccer also doubles as my friend group.” 

Finding the means to balance her activities outside her pre-med course load is rewarding, but a process. As she was figuring out how to juggle school and soccer, she began comparing herself to others on the field and in the classroom, contributing to her stress. Now, she makes sure not to put as much pressure on herself and remembers that everyone, regardless of whether they are pre-med, has different workloads and time commitments.

Despite this learning curve, Wakatsuki was able to not only succeed on the field, but off of it as well, completing an Office of Student-Athlete Excellence program where student athletes participated in workshops and lectures to improve their leadership. 

Wakatsuki emphasized that, although it can be overwhelming, striving for balance and taking the time to prioritize yourself is crucial.

“Finding that gap of time where I can still hang out with friends and be a normal college student is hard,” Wakatsuki said. “But I think it’s worth it.”

Lea Kidd 

A woman wearing black shirt and skirt with silver geometric patterns stands with one of her feet up behind her back in a dancer’s shoe.
Lea Kidd in a dancer’s pose. (Courtesy photo by Lisa Keegan)

When Lea Kidd isn’t in the classroom, she prefers to be on the stage. She is a junior majoring in biology, although she has always had a passion for dance. 

“I’ve been dancing since I was 10,” Kidd said. “I actually almost went to college for dance.”

In her sophomore year, Kidd decided to join the Gallatin School of Individualized Study’s Dancers/Choreographers Alliance, a student-run club at NYU. Through DCA, Kidd has met some of her closest friends and been able to dedicate time to dance practice. At the end of the semester, there is also a showcase where students get to perform the pieces they have worked on.

“This semester I am in two [dances]. I have rehearsal on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.” Kidd said. “It’s a good break, getting to move your body and dance.” 

For Kidd, focusing only on completing the pre-med requirement can become exhausting, so dance practice has been integral to counteracting that stress. She devotes an hour a week to each dance she is in, making time in the evening to take a break from studying. 

“You shouldn’t revolve your entire life around pre-med. It can get consuming and you can get burnt out a lot faster,” she said. “You need to take mental breaks.”

Contact Ava Duchin at [email protected].

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    Marc S DuchinOct 25, 2023 at 9:11 pm

    Excellent feature story to not only showcase interesting and inspirational students but also promote the unique aspects of student identity.

    Well done, Ava!