When my parents introduced me as a child, they always said, “Kitt is going to go to Harvard medical school and become a doctor when she grows up.” By the time I was in high school, I aspired to become a neurosurgeon. I got almost straight A’s, allowing myself a B in physics, was a medical explorer scout, trained as an emergency medical technician, wrote for the school paper, and logged many hours in drama and dance. As a senior, I applied to the schools with the highest acceptance rates into medical school.
Despite my hard-earned achievements, I didn’t get into any of those schools. Receiving rejection letter after rejection letter hit me hard. I had always been told I could go to school anywhere I wanted and could do anything I wanted. Wrong. Instead of attending an East Coast Ivy League school, I started my freshman year at UCLA as a biochemistry major. As the summer after high school graduation approached, I got a letter from UCLA saying I had to take remedial summer courses since my SAT scores totaled under 700. Back in the 80’s the math portion totaled 800, the verbal portion 800. My math score alone was 720 (yes, I was once a math geek). Apparently, the Educational Testing Service incorrectly reported my scores to UCLA. When I showed UCLA my scores, not only did I not have to do remedial work, but I was eligible for College Honors, in which I became active as a freshman.
– Excerpt from Kitt O’Malley’s memoir Balancing Act: Writing Through a Bipolar Life