Fake it to (sort of) make it

Dotty Liao

Vijay Chokal-Ingam claims that he, an Indian man, pretended to be black in order to bolster his chances of getting into medical school. The older brother to actress and comedienne Mindy Kaling (Fox’s “The Mindy Project”), posted on his blog AlmostBlack that he “didn’t have the grades or test scores to get into medical school, at least not as an Indian-American.”

Chokal-Ingam admitted that he partied with his fraternity brothers instead of focusing on his academic pursuits, which led to his receiving an unremarkable 3.1 undergraduate GPA – far from the 3.7-3.8 GPA that elite schools expect their applicants to meet in order to be considered.

His prospects looked rather bleak as an Indian-American applicant with an unimpressive GPA, whose mediocre MCAT score of 31 placed him at the 80-85 percentile.

Chokal-Ingam came to the conclusion that he could reap the benefits of affirmative action policies enforced by many of the same institutions he was interested in at the time, which occurred “after discovering statistical evidence that an applicant with [his] test scores who was Indian or Asian-American was unlikely to get into med school, while an African-American with the same scores was statistically likely to get into medical school.”

Affirmative action was implemented by various different regions worldwide in order to assist disadvantaged minority groups who suffer from racial discrimination. Affirmative action was initialized as a means to solder the “achievement gap” that occurs between people of certain minority groups, which shows the staggering disparities between performance levels based on public school reports on drop-out rates, SAT scores and standardized testing.

So he shaved his head, trimmed his lashes to obtain a more convincing disguise as a black man, and adopted his middle name ‘Jo Jo’ as his alias.

He applied to over 20 medical schools and received invitations for in-person interviews from 11 of those prestigious universities, such as Harvard, Washington University, University of Pennsylvania, Case Western, and Columbia. Chokal-Ingam was finally accepted at Saint Louis University School of Medicine after he was rejected by the other 10 institutions.

He believes that the enforced affirmative action policies in the admissions process were the primary influential factors responsible for his admission to SLU with a 3.1 GPA, where he dropped out of after two years.

He went on to study finance at UCLA Anderson School of Management (where he applied and got accepted as an Indian applicant) and now, ironically, works as a consultant in writing admission resumes and applications to elite universities.

Now, 17 years after the deed, Chokal-Ingam is speaking out against affirmative action; despite his belief that it was the sole reason for his one accepted admission into medical school. He writes on his blog:

“My experiences applying to medical school as a black man impressed on me the injustice created by the system of legalized racism called affirmative action. This system destroys the dreams of millions of Indian-American, Asian American, and white applicants for employment and higher education. It also creates negative stereotypes about the academic abilities and professional skills of African-American and Hispanic professionals, who don’t need special assistance in order to compete with other minority groups.”

The discrepancy occurs when one asks: how is gaining admission to one so-so school out of 22 worth all the fuss he is making?

He failed to actually get accepted into all but one single medical school. He paraded around as a black man in order to take advantage of a system that was formed as restitution for disenfranchised minority groups that truly needed the assistance; this is more telling of his self-serving take on certain issues than it is of the policies of affirmative action.