Among other requirements Scholarship applicants must write two essays with the following subject matter:

 

Complete an essay on one of the following three topics (no more than 500 words): 1. Describe your service to others through medicine, and your tenacity and accomplishment while under pressure. 2. Discuss the significant challenges you have encountered in your life, what you did to overcome these challenges and what positive impact you have made as a result. 3. Describe your experience in performing a clinical rotation in a third world country, disadvantaged community, or equivalent, and how it affected your outlook on providing medical care to those less fortunate.

 

Complete an essay on the following topic (no more than 500 words): In what ways have you contributed to your community, work or charitable organization? Beyond your career aspirations or current employment, how do you plan to use your degree to enrich and give back to your community?

The following three AUC Medical students are recipients of the 2015 Scholarship (essays edited for brevity and emphasis on history previous to AUC):

 

David Kenneally

When you start off as a teenage parent, not much is expected of you. The judging looks began with the hospital staff when I presented my state-provided medical insurance and with the more mature patients who gave me sideways glances as I passed by. I knew what they were all thinking: that life as I knew it was over, and most opportunities for my future were now out of reach.

As a young parent, I worked two jobs in order to provide for my child and save money to eventually attend college. Even though it was difficult at the time, the thing that affected me most was the idea that all opportunities were closed off to me. I remember a time when I was working a 1AM shift at the movie theater. An older, wiser coworker dismissively told me “there’s no way you’ll ever make it to med school”. That was almost exactly 20 years ago, and now I’m lucky enough to be here in St. Maarten and to be well on my way to becoming a doctor.

In the intervening 20 years, there were many challenges that made attending medical school a very distant dream. I worked full time to put myself through college while juggling utility bills and trying to support my growing family. I cannot think of a time in the past 20 years when I have not been working two jobs simultaneously. In fact, my wife still likes to remind me of the customers who would call for website repairs on Christmas Day.

I have worked to balance my responsibilities to my family and to my community, and to make the most of any opportunity that I had. My children’s school did not have a qualified computer science teacher and so in order to give them and the rest of the students an adequate education, I volunteered as the teacher for six years. The work was time consuming but I found it immensely rewarding, particularly as I saw many students move on to programming careers that they never had imagined before.

Through all of this, I had never given up my dream of attending medical school. Even though I am finally attending AUC full-time, my personal challenges have not subsided. In fact, I now face an even bigger challenge that continues to push me to my limits, as I work to balance academic achievement with being the best father and husband that I can be.  With my older children being in college now, I continue to work as programmer on breaks and holidays in order to financially support them and provide them with the tools that they need to succeed as well.

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Unlike many traditional medical students, I come from a computer programming background. Prior to attending AUC, I worked as a computer programmer for 12 years, and managed the IT department for a non-profit education foundation. Additionally, I spent the past 6 years as a volunteer, teaching computer science classes to high school students.

While working for the foundation I implemented a one-to-one laptop program, where every student in our schools would have a laptop computer of their own for schoolwork. I organized scholarships and donations in order to ensure that all of our students would have equal access to this educational opportunity, regardless of their financial situation.

I also volunteered at our community hospital in the emergency room, providing an extra pair of hands to a staff that was often stretched thin.

 

Kevin Kresofsky

POPP!!! The sound that my baseball glove makes as the baseball careens into the brand new leather. We would spend hours outside throwing the ball around the yard, my dad and I. It was one of the many special things that made our relationship unique. At the time I had no worries in the world and everything seemed to have been falling in my favor although I’d rarely think of it like that, as a 13 year old kid. Unfortunately, as many of us already know, life is unpredictable no matter who you are. It was the summer between freshman and sophomore year of high school and I was at camp. I was slightly surprised by the fact that my family friend and neighbor picked my sister and I up from camp, because our mom usually bore that responsibility, but I soon forgot about it as I turned on my gameboy and became fully determined to beat the next level in my new super mario game. As we departed from the car upon our arrival in the driveway, we were both caught off guard by an unusual neighbor leaving from inside our house to whom I asked, “what is there a party going on?” Little did I know that these were the last words I would speak before I would lose that little boy who loved to spend hours in the yard pretending to steal a home run from over the wall, or throw out a runner trying to score. As we walked into the house I first noticed my mother sitting on the couch with her eyes swollen and red, holding a used tissue in her hand. Recently having lost my uncle, I knew what this was a sign of. I began to feel short of breath and I felt my heart rush, I asked “where is daddy?” with no immediate response I ran through the house opening all the doors screaming “dad!” not wanting to believe the truth; he was gone. I vowed to step up and become the man of the house, take care of my mother and sister, and make my dad proud. I finished high school, earning multiple academic and sports awards; I proceeded to go onto college because I know that’s what he would have wanted for me. During my undergraduate I decided that I wanted to give back to people. I want the chance to give people extra time with their loved ones. I decided medical school was the path for me. I got into the American University of the Caribbean and obtained a 4.0 during my basic sciences, and achieved a 257 on my USMLE STEP 1 exam. I believe I am making my father proud by giving my all everyday to something I am passionate about; just like the baseball catches we used to have for hours in the yard.

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Medical school is an intimidating and daunting task, however by adopting qualities of successful students before you it can become a more manageable journey.

After leaving the island I continued with my community action. I participated in a basketball tournament for underprivileged students as a volunteer of the hospital at Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center, and also took part in a community health day with the hospital. During this event we visited patients at their respective homes to give them healthcare information and guidance.

 

Vicken Zeitjian

I worked as part of a team of students and faculty physicians in providing healthcare to underserved communities. I recognized my passion to play a vital role in a person’s health and appreciated the rewarding experience. However, it was not until I began clinical rotations that my knowledge, confidence, and tenacity were put to test.

As a medical student on the island, the expectations for patient care were minimal. The focus was always on mastering the basic sciences. Upon beginning rotations, I was given responsibilities that seemed daunting at first. I began with my medicine rotation and was on wards for the first 8 weeks. On my first day, I was quickly assigned 5 patients and was expected to not only evaluate them, but also to know their stories well enough to answer any questions that the residents or attending had during rounds. I was no longer shadowing, but was being depended upon as a team member. I recall being called upon by the attending who asked what the next best step in management is for one of the patients. While, I had learned disease processes and treatments, identifying the next step in management was new to me. I was expected to integrate my basic sciences knowledge and critically reason what the most important next step was. I answered to the best of my ability. Sometimes I would be correct, but often times I would learn through incorrect answers. In many similar instances such as these, I had my confidence shaken, but even those experiences I am thankful for because I learned not only from my mistake, but also learned to take criticism. With tenacity I have been able to move forward.

An experience that demonstrates an accomplishment under pressure occurred unexpectedly during a night on-call shift. I was in the intensive care unit checking up on my patient, when a nurse in the next room yelled “he is crashing.” I stopped evaluating my patient and ran next door to help. I immediately called code blue and began chest compressions. Within 1 minute the entire room was full of residents and a couple attendings; they had taken over the situation. Fortunately, the patient made it through this episode. Although it seemed like I didn’t do much, I received various compliments by the residents and felt somewhat accomplished in this pressured situation. The rush I felt in those couple minutes was indeed overwhelming, but it was an experience worth having because I anticipate the next time code blue occurs, I will approach the situation in a slightly more composed fashion.

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Two events took place where free clinics were set up in disadvantaged communities and healthcare was provided to both adults and children. This was both an academically educational and humbling experience for me. In the first free clinic, I met patients who were receiving care for the first time in their lives. It brought joy to not only be able to address their concerns, but also to educate them about health maintenance and prevention.  I remember one particular lady in her 50s who had been suffering from the symptoms of hyperglycemia. She experienced progressive weakness, fatigue, blurred vision, polyuria, and tingling in her feet for the past 3 months. We discovered her elevated blood glucose, and I had the opportunity to educate her on her disease and necessary lifestyle modifications, which would help her control diabetes as well as diminish her symptoms. She was astonished to find out the potential complications of diabetes, and was tremendously grateful for our help. In my first clinic, I recognized my passion to play a role in a person’s health especially in someone less fortunate. In the subsequent clinic, I took leadership initiative to organize the volunteer work in an elementary school community. I was able to gather ~15 students and 3 faculty physicians to participate in this free clinic. We were grateful to have provided care to 120 patients.

After obtaining the MD degree from AUC, I would like to participate in a mission trip to Armenia with an organization called Birthright. Birthright organizes volunteer work in Armenia in various fields for youth between the ages of 20-32. I am Armenian by nationality and have always wanted to give back to my country through the medical branch of Birthright Armenia. I took a previous trip to Honduras with Global Medical Brigades before starting medical school and found that to be rewarding, although working as a volunteer without the training of medical school made it difficult to contribute as much as I would have liked. I anticipate contributing to the healthcare of those disadvantaged in Armenia, with the training of a physician, will be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My goal is to go on a one-month mission after graduating medical school by April 2016 and before beginning residency.