Seniors study to help others beyond the heart

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Sydney Kim '20

Gracie McDevitt ’20, Alexa Choy ’20, Elisa Howard ’20, and Julie Drago ’20 plan to study on a pre-med track in college.

This article includes updated information since its original publication date of May 8, 2020.

Four members of Sacred Heart Greenwich’s Class of 2020 will pursue a pre-med track at their respective colleges this fall.  Seniors Alexa Choy, Julie Drago, Elisa Howard, and Gracie McDevitt plan to combine what they have learned during their time at Sacred Heart, their interest in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM), and their passion for helping others in college and in their careers. 

Alexa Choy ’20 will be attending Cornell University where she will major in biology and society.  Sydney Kim ’20

Alexa will be majoring in biology and society at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  This major is a combination of required pre-med courses, science and math classes, and humanities-focused studies.  Alexa believes that it will provide her with valuable context and perspective as a medical professional. 

“When choosing my major, I was very cognizant of the fact that I did not want to study medicine in a vacuum,” Alexa said.  “I wanted to understand the philosophical and ethical topics that come with the STEM field, and understand the relationship between science and the world.”

At Sacred Heart, Alexa is a student in the Upper School Science Research class and is the co-head of the Pre-Med Club.  In addition, she helped organize the November 2019 Operation Med School conference as the co-president of Operation Med School New York.  Most recently, SKIN, The Journal of Cutaneous Medicine, published Alexa’s research paper that she began during a summer internship in 2018 and completed with the help of Ms. Mary Musolino, Upper School Science Teacher.  

Alexa is grateful for all of the opportunities that she has had at Sacred Heart, both within and beyond the school’s STEAM program.

Julie Drago ’20 will bring her interest in biology and medicine to Southern Methodist University. Sydney Kim ’20

“I think that Sacred Heart has prepared me immensely for college and for my future career,” Alexa said.  “The environment at Sacred Heart has enabled me to explore my interests limitlessly, and really narrow down what it is I want to study in the future.”

Julie will major in biology on the pre-med track at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  At Sacred Heart, Julie found her biology and anatomy courses to be the most influential on her decision to pursue pre-med.  She looks forward to new opportunities to explore her interests in college.

“I chose biology as my major because it is a subject that has made me love learning and eager to learn more about life,” Julie said.  “I am so excited to learn in a new environment, with labs and activities that are more advanced than what we did in high school.  I can’t wait to expand my knowledge and continue my journey to my lifelong dream of joining the medical field.”

Julie draws her inspiration to pursue medicine from her family members, specifically her grandfather and her aunt, both of whom are medical professionals.  Her grandfather was Chief of Medicine at New York United Hospital Medical Center in New York City, and her aunt is an anesthesiologist.  In the footsteps of her aunt, Julie hopes to enter the field as an anesthesiologist.

Elisa plans to double-major in neuroscience and molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.  Her uncles Dr. Andrew Schmidt and Dr. Robert Schmidt are gastroenterologists, and they were Elisa’s first inspiration in the field of medicine.

Elisa Howard ‘20 will be studying neuroscience and molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University this fall. Sydney Kim ‘20

“After spending time in [my uncles’] labs and discovering their role in the restoration of human health, I have uncovered my desire to become a physician to diagnose, treat, and help heal others,” Elisa said.  

In her classes at Sacred Heart, especially biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus, Elisa feels that her teachers have provided her with a stable foundation for college and her career.  Outside of school, Elisa volunteers in the step-down unit of White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York.  She began volunteering at the White Plains Hospital during the summer before her senior year.  

Elisa believes that this experience has helped her confirm her interest in the field of medicine.  

“I assist nurses in taking vitals, collecting lab specimens, answering bed calls, and fulfilling patient requests,” Elisa said.  “My experiences have reaffirmed my desire to pursue a pre-med track in college.”

After she graduates from college and medical school and completes her internship and residency requirements, she hopes to enter the field as a neurosurgeon.  Specifically, Elisa aspires to conduct operations that address the disorders relating to the central and peripheral nervous systems. 

Gracie plans to major in anthropology and minor in dance at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont.  She chose anthropology as her major because she hopes to explore human life from a different perspective than that which her pre-med course requirements will provide. Through her major, Gracie also hopes to further develop her passion for the natural environment.  

In alignment with Sacred Heart’s third goal, a social awareness which impels to action, Gracie’s interest in and passion for helping others inspired her to study on a pre-med track in college.

“I have always been interested in medicine because I knew I wanted to do something that made a real, concrete difference in the lives of others,” Gracie said.  “I love the problem-solving aspect of medicine and the connections that doctors are able to make with people of so many diverse backgrounds. Most of all, I have been so inspired by the genuine compassion of the people in my life who work in healthcare.”

At Middlebury College, Gracie McDevitt ’20 will be majoring in anthropology. Sydney Kim ’20

Like Alexa and Elisa, one of Gracie’s extracurricular activities helped spark her interest in the fields of STEAM and medicine.  During the summer before her senior year, Gracie participated in a shadow program through Sacred Heart.  She shadowed Dr. Michael Pittaro, MD, a cardiologist who works at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Dr. Carole Nicole “Nikki” Gorman, MD, a pediatrician at Village Pediatrics in Westport, Connecticut.  Gracie was able to observe the work of a medical professional in the operating room, hospital, and office.  

Beyond college, Gracie hopes to participate in research and community outreach, especially those in relation to pediatric medicine and healthcare.  

“Although I have plenty of time to decide on what to specialize in, I am especially interested in developmental pediatrics and pediatric neurology,” Gracie said.  “I would also like to somehow continue my love of writing in my medical career, perhaps through writing a book or blogs. Writing about medicine and raising awareness about health issues, particularly those that affect children, is one way I hope to use my career to give back to my community.”

Featured Image by Sydney Kim ’20