Senior Hones Patient Care Skills at Harvard

WASHINGTON, PA (Feb. 13, 2013)—Washington & Jefferson College senior Athena Castro has a one-track mind—she wants to be a doctor.

The chemistry major from Upper St. Clair, Pa., spent Intersession interning at Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, the latter working with a world-renowned team of plastic surgeons.

Focused, determined, and uniquely experienced, Castro appears to be on the fast track to making her dream come true. She sought the opportunities in Boston that are often reserved for fellows and medical school students. She focused on research at Boston University School of Medicine, more on patient care at Harvard--joining physicians conducting rounds, attending related lectures, and observing medical procedures.

“Harvard is the best. Once you are there, you see everyone is so knowledgeable and good at what they do,” Castro said. “The experience was amazing. It reaffirmed my plans for the next four years and beyond. The doctors are so confident. The patients are so confident.”

Castro knew she wanted to take advantage of Intersession, W&J’s January term, to gain some additional experience in her field. She did some research, made some phone calls, and impressed both schools with her resume. An Alpha Scholar, Castro has the grades and research and internship experience she hopes will result in admission to one of the nation’s top medical schools.

Castro says the relationships she has been able to establish with faculty members at W&J are invaluable.

“I feel the student/faulty relationship is the most important thing at W&J. Having a teacher write a recommendation letter means the world,” she said. “At medical school interviews, they are interested in the character of an applicant. My teachers know me.”

Castro has also benefited from alumni relationships at W&J, working with 1977 W&J alum William Cruikshank, Ph.D., professor of medicine and director of the Graduate Program of Molecular Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine.

In short, says Castro, “W&J has prepared me well.”