1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn NY. I enjoy reading, swimming, and going out with my friends from high school. After finishing undergrad I spent a year interning in a research lab, volunteering in New York’s first geriatric emergency department, and tutoring 11 year old students in math and reading. I spent the past couple of years working as a research associate at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?
I respected all of my teachers however there was one that really had a lasting effect on me. That was 8th grade history teacher Mr. Callahan. He taught me that one should listen to learn and learn to listen. Very simple yet powerful statement.
3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?
Well, I first knew I wanted to become a doctor after volunteering at the Weill Cornell Medical center and working in a unit that treats patients with neurological disorders. I will never forget the first patient I encountered, a bedridden man whom the nurses called Chris, “the king”, because of his desire for attention as well as his liking to misbehave and indiscriminately yell at the staff. I was deeply saddened when I saw him because of the state he was in and that he never had any visitors. I decided to visit him every day and help him with his meals until he was transferred to another hospital. After working in the neuro unit I wanted to be in a position where I could do more for these patients and help treat them. That is when I first started thinking about becoming a doctor. I was also fascinated by the brain and wanted a career in which I could care for these patients and come up with treatments that would improve their lives. I was also driven by a desire to contribute and eventually produce my own scholarship.
4. What area of medicine are you interested in?
My goal is to become a neurologist and be a clinician as well as a translational researcher. I was always interested in understanding how natural compounds can be used to treat neurodegenerative disorders. Other areas of medicine that I am interested in are emergency medicine just because of the pace of things and the ability to constantly see something new.
5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?
Winning an NIH diversity supplement grant for two years under Dr. Pasinetti’s mentorship at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. After receiving the grant, I presented my research in conferences around the country and contributed to 6 original research publications. I worked alongside a postdoctoral research fellow for an exciting project aimed at understanding how dietary polyphenols compounds found in grapes improve memory function in mice by using a pre-existing technology called optogenetics a method that allows for the manipulation of neurons by turning them on and off using a certain wavelength of light. The project demonstrated that dietary polyphenols improve memory by upregulating a gene called c-fos in the hippocampus.
What is your favorite book?
Start with Why by Simon Sinek. I recommend this book because sometimes the most powerful statements are the ones that are the most obvious; the statements we are assumed to know but ignore and do not apply in our daily lives. I recommend Start With Why not just for pre-meds but also for anyone in general who is going through adversity or has lost his or her sense of direction.
7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.
I like reading books about history particularly the pacific theater of WWII and the Civil War.
8. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do?
I would pursue a career in education as I enjoy teaching.
9. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it?
My biggest obstacle in my premedical journey has been my mother’s recent passing from cancer and the immense challenges and uncertainty it has brought to my life. I used to accompany her during chemotherapy treatments in the afternoon and then I would have to return to the lab the same day. I am certain there is not a single person who can walk out of a cancer ward and not in some way be emotionally moved. Seeing the suffering of my own mother as well as those of the other cancer patients forced me to think about my own life and its meaning. It made me see the temporality of my own life and instilled in me a sense of urgency: to pursue one’s passions, to act, and to love now not later. I knew wanted a career that I could devote my life to and this tragedy has called me even more strongly to take care of sick and their families because I was there myself.
10. What do you like most about Diverse Medicine?
Well, the sense of community that it builds the chance to interact with other premeds!
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