Profiles of Success

Sarah Jensen – Allopathic Medicine

NU 2012, B.S. Chemistry; David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Class of 2018

1. What led to your interest in a career in medicine? Who or what inspired you?

A friend of mine passed away from cancer during our senior year of high school.  Throughout his long battle, I was exposed to so many different aspects of medicine, from diagnosis to treatment to palliative care. From that point on, I have been interested in oncology, specifically pharmacology research. I loved my work in drug discovery, but I realized in order to feel fulfilled, I needed to make more of an impact on peoples’ lives. After shadowing doctors and seeing the hospital from a different perspective, I knew I wanted to become a physician. Read more…

Kelsey Jordan – Optometry

NU 2013, B.S. Biology; New England College of Optometry, Class of 2017

1. What led to your interest in a career in optometry? Who or what inspired you? My interest in a career in optometry began when I was in high school. I loved science, math, and working with people. I knew I wanted to work in the health field, but was unsure about which profession I wanted to pursue. After several vision problems found their way into my family, I realized helping others to best achieve one of the most coveted human senses would be a rewarding field of work. I shadowed my neighbor, who is an optometrist at a hospital in my town, and instantly felt I could see a future for myself in the field of optometry. After copious amounts of research into the field and after observing many other optometrists, I was attracted to the various types of practice settings and different fields available to optometrists. Through my career at Northeastern, I participated in three co-ops; two of which involved performing research at major biotechnology companies and one of which was at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. It was through these experiences that I solidified my desire to work with people, gained valuable research experience, and realized my desire to become an optometrist. I enjoyed my research experiences, but prefer to work in a clinical setting; yet I will always have the opportunity to supplement my optometric career with vision research. I was encouraged by my family to follow my dreams and inspired by my drive to help others, which could lead to a successful health career. Read more…

Laura E. Rushford – Dental Medicine

NU 2012 - B.S. Chemical Engineering; Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2017

1. What led to your interest in a career in dental medicine? Who or what inspired you?
 As a chemical engineering graduate, my path towards choosing a career in dental medicine was untraditional. Working as a nursing assistant on an oncology floor at a local cancer center and volunteering with Best Buddies and food pantries sparked my initial interest in a career within the medical field. Before matriculating at NU, I decided to major in engineering because I knew it would be a great foundation for a career in medicine. While acquiring critical thinking skills as an engineer, I kept careers in the healthcare profession on the back of my mind. Read more…

Michael Kelly – Podiatric Medicine

NU 2010 - B.S., Health Science; Dr. William Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine, Class of 2015

What led to your interest in a career in podiatric medicine? Who or what inspired you?

For as long as I can remember I knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine because of the personal medical challenges I faced throughout my own life. More specifically, I always thought I wanted to pursue a career in Orthopedic Surgery. During undergrad at NU I did everything I could to expose myself to as many aspects of medicine as possible. Whether it be via volunteer work or co-op, I took advantage of being in the backdrop of such a large medical community in the Boston area. I had the opportunity to shadow and learn about many different medical fields. However, it was not until the end of my senior year while working a Boston Children’s Hospital Division of Sports Medicine as a Research Assistant that I was exposed to Podiatric Medicine. For my senior Capstone project I wanted to complete a project on foot health so I began working with one of the podiatrists in our department. Through this interaction Read more…

Kostas Papamarkakis

NU 2009 - BS Biology and Health Science; Tufts University School of Medicine, Class of 2015

What led to your interest in a career in medicine? Who or what inspired you? I have always been interested in science. Components of clinical research solidified my interest in medical science. Aside from the educational content and challenge, I always was interested in health and public service. These two aspects, science and service, seem to be the pillars of medicine, at least for me. Read more…

Rajal Sharma

NU 2009 - BS./MS Chemistry; Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Class of 2018 (MD/PhD)

What led to your interest in a career in medicine? Who or what inspired you?    A lot of personal experiences with physicians inspired me to pursue a career in medicine. In college I also found that I had a knack for basic science research and found that I could pursue both. I was drawn to the cutting-edge nature of medicine and its ability to change lives. I saw modern science really changing medical practice but I also saw gaps where modern science could really help. I realized that by pursuing an MD/PhD, I could have a role in filling these gaps. Read more…

Ann Tukpah

NU 2007 - BS Biochemistry; Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Class of 2015

What led to your interest in a career in medicine? Who or what inspired you? Initially, I was curious about science and medicine which led me to major in biochemistry at NU. However, over time I became exposed to so many different professions that allow one to learn and be innovative while helping to take care of others. I was also always encouraged by my family and my family’s work ethic, which really allowed me to believe that I could pursue a rigorous education. The lack of opportunities for women and girls, especially, and the high disease burden in my home country of Liberia further motivated me to commit to medicine and broaden my interest in public health. Read more…

Kwesi Blackman

NU 2009 - BS Biology; Howard University School of Medicine, Class of 2014

What led to your interest in a career in medicine? Who or what inspired you?
As an 8-year-old boy I used to watch a show on the Learning Channel about surgeons performing various types of surgeries.  I remember my mother asking me “why are you watching this kind of stuff?” and responding, “That is what I want to do when I grow up.” I found it so amazing what they were doing. I did not have any doctors in my family and my only experience with a real doctor was when I would go for my yearly physicals. So, a TV show on the Learning Channel every Sunday night was what first inspired me to become a surgeon. Read more…

Joseph Pepe – Osteopathic Medicine

NU 2011 - B.S. Health Science; Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2015

What led to your interest in a career in osteopathic medicine? Who or what inspired you?
I have always enjoyed the medical field.  I worked as a patient transporter in high school, which exposed me to all different aspects of the medical system.  Osteopathic medicine, in particular, has a strong emphasis on training its practitioners to be intuitive primary care physicians.  This philosophy is one of the reasons I feel the profession fits so well with my personal goals and values.  Though not all physicians serve in the primary care field, I believe that all physicians must be great general practitioners, first and foremost, no matter their level of specialization.  My experiences with emergency medicine, in particular, have shown me the importance of personalized care, which can so often be overlooked in such a hectic and fast passed field. Read more…

Jeffrey Cumplido

NU 2010 - B.S. Biology; Tufts University School of Medicine, MD/MPH 2014 Residency - Brown, General Internal Medicine

As a new Doctor, what advice would you give to Northeastern PreHealth students?   Medicine is a fascinating interplay between clinical knowledge/clinical reasoning and interpersonal relationships that together dictate how good or bad we perform as providers. My biology background certainly prepared for the former (clinical knowledge/reasoning) more so than for the latter. But my other experiences at NU – the social entrepreneurship, study abroad – complemented the strong scientific background with the opportunity to understand other cultures, understand the barriers that people face in all aspects in their lives, and how to interact with people that had a very different story than my own. All of these play a major role in being able to translate clinical knowledge and reasoning into patient centered treatment plans. As such, I would encourage students to try to step out of their comfort zone and take advantage of the endless opportunities at NU to experience something different and new, and to reflect on how those experiences differ from theirs and how they pose different challenges. Read more…

Kristen Bonkowski – Dental Medicine

NU 2010 - B.S. Biology; Georgia Health Sciences University, DMD 2014; Residency: Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program at Georgia Regents University

As a new Dentist, what advice would you give to Northeastern PreHealth students?  Really understand which dental schools you’ll be applying to-  there are benefits to each program and you really want more then to “just get into” a graduate program. You want the school to share in your philosophy and be a great stepping stone to your next step. You also need to consider what will work for you financially. Read more…

John Daggett

NU 2010 - B.S. Biology; Tufts University School of Medicine, Class of 2014

What led to your interest in a career in medicine? Who or what inspired you?
Early on I admired a team of health care providers caring for my grandfather when he took ill. Teamwork was so evident, and it was great to see a group of dedicated people working to care for another person. My exposure at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on co-op with inpatient physical and occupational therapists later confirmed my desire to pursue medicine in the hopes of caring for those in need. Read more…

Katy Applin

NU 2010 - B.S. Mechanical Engineering; Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Class of 2015

What led to your interest in a career in medicine? Who or what inspired you?
I originally thought I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. After a couple of co-ops in the field, I realized that I didn’t like the idea of spending most of my time working behind a desk. It was at that time that I began to seriously consider medicine. It had all of the challenging aspects that were offered with engineering; however, it was much more interpersonal. Read more…

Kevin Greene

NU 2011 - B.S. Behavioral Neuroscience; University of Massachusetts Medical School, Class of 2016

What led to your interest in a career in medicine? Who or what inspired you?
My first co-op was the first time I felt certain that medicine was something I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.  The co-op was with an HIV/AIDS epidemiology research group at Mass. General Hospital and what really struck me was the clear distinction between the goals of my co-workers vs. those of my friends on co-ops in other majors.  Read more…

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