Vijay Chokal-Ingam, brother of "The Mindy Project" actress Mindy Kaling, stirred up controversy when he revealed that he pretended to be black to get into medical school. Here, in his own words, he explains why he did it.
People have asked for the last 15 years, “Vijay, how did you come up with pretending like you’re black to get into medical school? That was crazy, huh?”
Uh, yeah, it was. But at the time it seemed like a good idea. I had toed the line in school my whole life. I sailed through a prestigious prep school with great grades. Had always been a model student. But college? Well, it was like Disneyland — so many rides to take, so much fun to have. I joined a fraternity and committed a great deal of effort to fun. But about halfway through, I had an epiphany and it scared the crap out of me.
I wanted to be a doctor. Yes, it’s kind of a cultural thing, but I’m also totally American, grew up in Boston and even got my middle name from Jo Jo White, one of the Celtics stars. My immigrant folks loved basketball. But I wanted to be a doctor mainly because my mom was a doctor and she was universally loved by her patients. I was immensely proud of her.
One of my closest friends, nicknamed Boots — Indian-American like me — shared my dream.
But what happened to Boots next chilled me to my marrow. He began applying to medical schools and we both figured he would sail through, get many interviews and then have his pick. Boots was a year older and medical school was everything he had worked for since starting at the University of Chicago. His grades and test scores were better than mine because, unlike me, he actually studied. But when he applied to 15 medical schools, got only two interviews and was accepted to exactly zero schools, he felt like a college running back who thinks he’ll go to the Patriots in the second round and is stunned when he’s relegated to playing in the CFL.