10 Questions With William D'Antonio - Former client and brand new PA-S

During last year’s application cycle, we reviewed a personal statement that captured resiliency and overcoming obstacles no matter what the odds were. That personal statement belonged to William D’Antonio. William is our former client from last year’s application cycle, who is originally from NYC, studied in Texas and is now a brand new PA-S! After a rollercoaster ride of an application cycle, he has been accepted to one of his top choices and is preparing to start PA school this fall. William has been kind enough to share his story to empower other Pre-PA’s that are now in his shoes. Here is his story. Congrats William and we wish you the best of luck on your journey!

1 . Tell us about you and your journey to PA School.

My name is William D’Antonio, and I am from New York City. I graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Biotechnology and a minor in Health Education. Throughout my studies, I worked three different jobs. I was a tutor, a pharmacy technician, and even an Uber driver. After graduating from UH, I volunteered at the MD Anderson’s May’s Clinic once a week for a full year. As a volunteer, I was encouraged to apply for a full-time cord blood collector position with the Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Department. I shortly accepted my offer and began my journey to PA school, where I met my PA mentor Irfan in the ICU.

2. What were your stats applying to PA School? 

  • Major: B.S. in Biotechnology, Minor: Health Education

  • GPA: 3.34, Post Baccalaureate GPA: 4.0

  • Patient Care Experience: 1880+ hours

  • Health Care Experience: 3300+ hours

  • PA Shadowing: 75+ hours

  • Volunteer: 200+ hours

3. What were your strengths and weaknesses on your application cycle. How did you highlight your strengths and how did you put a positive spin on your weaknesses? 

My biggest strength is my unique awareness of cultural diversity. Growing up in the most culturally rich city in the world taught me to respect every ethnicity, race, and religion. I continued to expand my cultural awareness at the University of Houston, which is one of the most diverse universities in the U.S. Throughout college, my work as a pharmacy technician exposed me the uprising cultural blend of Houston, where I fostered differences and appreciated everyone's perspective.

Chemistry was my biggest weakness! The first time around I did not earn A’s or B’s as I should have, and my results it put a ding in my GPA. However, that did not stop me from learning from my mistakes. Chemistry tested my ability to think critically, and I enhanced my skills after completing Organic Chemistry II with a B. I retook Chemistry I at my local community college to grasp a better understanding of the fundamentals and to demonstrate my commitment to science. 

4. Was this your first time applying? If not, what were the things you changed this application cycle?

Yes; 2018 was the first and only cycle. 

5. In your opinion, which part of the application cycle can 'make or break' your application? Why? How did you tackle this?

The personal statement can make or break your application. The admission committees will come across similar applicants with the same stellar GPA, patient care experience, and shadowing hours. In order to stand out, your personal statement has to be true to yourself and be memorable to the readers. It took me one full year to develop my personal statement. I started off by reading several books such as “How to Write Your Physician Assistant Personal Statement” by Stephen Pasquini and “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. Two months prior to finalizing my personal statement, I contacted “The Humerus PA”, who helped elevate my PS and buff out the final touches that I needed. 

6. What was something that you found easier than you expected during the application cycle?

Surprisingly, I found it easy to input my own grades into CASPA. My original plan was to pay CASPA an additional $60 to have both of my transcripts input on my application. But after some consideration, I decided to do it myself. CASPA has an amazing customer service, and if you stumble upon any questions while inputting your grades, they will help you figure it out.

7. What was something you found harder than you expected during the application cycle?

One of the hardest tasks of the application cycle was choosing three people to write strong letter of recommendations on my behalf. In the end, everything worked out fine for me and four people wrote LOR’s: a biology professor, my PA mentor, a pharmacist, and my current supervisor. It is important to give your LOR writers at least a 2-3 month notice so they have enough time to put everything together. Also, remember quality over quantity. Choose someone who has personally seen your academic achievements or someone that you have worked closely with. Do not ask someone you have only shadowed once or a family member to write one for you.

8. What are your general recommendations for those applying to PA School?

I highly recommend researching each PA school you are applying to. Each school is different. Some schools will accept your PCE and others will not. Some schools may want you take an advanced biology class such as virology or immunology, while others will want you to take sociology. Some schools require the GRE, while others do not, but will accept MCAT scores instead. Do your due diligence early on so you do not run into roadblocks midway your application.

9. How was ‘The Humerus PA’ utilized throughout your application cycle?

“The Humerus PA” is a personal statement life-saver! The Humerus PA gave me the confidence to make my personal statement a reality. I cannot be happier from feedback, constructive criticism, and time I received from “The Humerus PA” a few months prior to submitting my application. Without “The Humerus PA”, I would have missed out on the essence of my essay, and I wish I would have known about this amazing service much earlier in the process!

10. What’re your plans for the future. Is there a particular specialty you have in mind?

As a PA, I want to empower my patients by providing compassionate care and help improve the life of every patient I meet. My work as a cord blood collector at the MD Anderson Cancer Center has drawn me closer to the comprehensive care of patients with life-threatening conditions such as leukemia and lymphoma. I am currently inclined to pursuing pediatric oncology or surgical oncology, but only time can tell. I believe my clinical rotations during PA school will help narrow down my path for my future. 

If you have any questions, feel free to reach us at thehumeruspa@gmail.com or for direct question for William, you can reach him at biotech.william@gmail.com or IG @ this.is.willy. Sign up for our newsletter below!