From Bonaventure to GWU–My transition and passion for the schools

My hands shook. My eyes welled. My neurons fired in directions I had never before felt.

My smile consumed my entire face.

I held my acceptance letter to the St. Bonaventure University/ The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences dual-degree, B.S./M.D. program. At the age of 17, I had a conditional seat in the most-applied-to medical school in the country. With my Bonnie pride and medical school excitement, I signed the necessary documents.

The letters M.D. after my name–my dream becoming a reality. (more…)

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He rubbed Q-tips around his mouth and saved a girl.

A drawing Marina sent to us in a letter.

Coming home from my summer job one night in July 2005, I heard an unfamiliar voice linger in the hallway. Walking closer to the origin, I saw my dad in the family room speaking with a dark-haired man I had never seen before.

He introduced himself as Jay Feinberg, the founder of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. I still had no idea why he stood in front of me.

My dad said that Feinberg had called him at work the day before because he was a potential stem cell donor for a person with cancer.

Put into a national stem cell donor bank a few years prior, and never really heard from the organization since, my dad completely forgot about his simple cheek swab until this call.

Feinberg told my dad over the phone that he could potentially save the life of an 11-year-old girl with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, cancer of the blood or bone marrow. (more…)

Beware of friends bearing gifts.

Danielle Schenone, a senior biology major, talks to a freshman class about sexually transmitted infections . photo by taken Kristin Sotak

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y.–St. Bonaventure University freshmen fill the room for their University 101 class, a first semester course to transition students from high school to college life. On the white projector screen blanketing the blackboard, a YouTube video plays.

She sits with her ponytail high atop her head. Her anonymous silhouette tells her story to the class.

During her year-long relationship with her boyfriend in high school, the topic of having sex came up in conversation. While she would not be his first, he would be hers.

Avoiding the awkwardness of asking her boyfriend if he had gotten tested for sexually transmitted infections, she made the worst decision of her life. She trusted him.

And they had sex without a condom. She thought she had nothing to worry about. (more…)

Got organs?

Nancy Matthews and her daughter, Hannah . photo taken from blogspot: nancymatthews.blogspot.com

ST. BONAVENTURE (Sept. 17)–From around the corner, I can hear the smile on her face—happy to breathe, happy to walk, happy to be alive.

Once an active member of the Journey Project at St. Bonaventure University, Nancy Matthews walks into the Thomas Merton Center, a home of the past.

Familiar Thomas Merton Center faces, excited to see her for the first time in years perhaps, compliment Matthews on how healthy she looks.

Formally meeting her for the first time, I courteously reach out my hand to greet her.

“I am sorry, but I can’t shake hands with you,” says Matthews, a mother with cystic fibrosis. (more…)

Getting a D isn’t all that bad…

My black patent leather flats click quickly behind the physician, trying to keep up with her pace. Doreen DeGraaff, a

 

Vitamin D supplements . photo taken by me

 

doctor of medicine in obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN), glides from one patient room to the next in her office in Livingston, New Jersey.

This particular Monday in August, she endlessly examined more than fifty women, each of which she knew on a personal basis.

After meeting with each patient, she updates each file. Any new medications? How’s your son? Isn’t Argentina beautiful? Have you gone for a colonoscopy yet? Do you take vitamin D tablets?

The last question creates a pause in the conversation. DeGraaff listens for an answer as she does with her patients during every appointment. (more…)