Describe your path since graduating from Portsmouth Abbey School.
I graduated from Portsmouth Abbey School in 2015, and I am now a rising Senior at Brown University. The summer after my freshman year, I began working with a program called Connect for Health at Hasbro Children’s Hospital where we work with low-income families to find community resources. I also began volunteering at Clínica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, a free clinic that provides medical care to uninsured Spanish-speaking patients in Providence. Working with these organizations made me realize that I wanted to use my love of biology to serve my community by pursuing a career as a doctor. I have recently had the opportunity to take a larger role in these organizations by overseeing fellow Advocates as a Team Coordinator at Connect for Health, and working on grant proposals and data analysis initiatives as a Project Manager at Clínica Esperanza. Last semester, I also had the opportunity to work as a Teaching Assistant in a biochemistry lab course.
One of the defining moments of my college career so far was when I took “Beyond Narnia: The Literature of C.S. Lewis,” a class taught at Brown by Infectious Disease doctor and fellow Portsmouth Abbey alumnus Dr. Tim Flanigan ’75. I got more involved in the Brown RISD Catholic Community, and Dr. Flanigan even sponsored a trip to NYC for Brown students to see a play about C.S. Lewis. In the summer after my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to shadow Dr. Flanigan and his colleagues at Miriam Hospital as they helped patients with infections like HIV and Lyme Disease. This experience helped me realize how much interest I have in this field, and I decided to choose a concentration in Immunology within my Biology major.
Dr. Flanigan also introduced me to another Infectious Disease doctor at Brown, Dr. Sanchez, who coordinates a medical exchange program in the Dominican Republic. This summer, I received funding from the Brown International Scholarships Committee to conduct research at an HIV clinic in a large public hospital in the Dominican Republic. We interviewed patients about adherence to their medications to better understand the factors that affect their ability to remain in care. We found that transportation is a major barrier as many patients have to travel long distances to avoid going to a local clinic because the discrimination against people living with HIV is so great. It is our hope that the results of this study will capture these narratives in a way that will help to make HIV-related healthcare more accessible.
After I graduate this May, I plan to spend a year continuing to do clinical research before applying to medical school.
How did your experience at Portsmouth Abbey School help you become the person & professional you are today?
My time at Portsmouth Abbey set the groundwork for all that I have done since graduating. My parents Susan and Shane are currently faculty members at Portsmouth Abbey, teaching Math and Science respectively. From an early age, I loved to help them set up chemistry experiments for their students, and it was in the same lab where I found my love of science in Ms. Brady’s AP Chemistry class. Señor Guerenabarena’s class has inspired me to take a Spanish class each semester in college, which allows me to easily communicate with Spanish-speaking patients in the clinics where I work. Humanities and history classes taught me how to think for myself and speak confidently. Going on trips to Lourdes and Chile during my high school summers informed my ideas about service and faith. My eight years as an Altar Server were also formative in my Catholic faith, and being a Prefect in St. Mary’s allowed me to form the strongest friendships in my four years at the Abbey. The academic rigor and full days of classes and sports taught me time management, which has enabled me to have so many fulfilling extracurricular experiences alongside my academics. Most of all, I believe my education at Portsmouth Abbey gave me a sense of purpose and a desire to engage in meaningful work.
What is a piece of advice you'd give to current Portsmouth Abbey students?
It has only been three years since I’ve graduated from the Abbey, so I can’t speak to working in the “real world” quite yet. However, I do know that the Abbey taught me perseverance and hard work. I felt extremely well-prepared when I began college, and the study skills and work ethic I gained during my time at Portsmouth Abbey School helped me immensely. The opportunity to go to the Abbey is so incredible and unique, so be sure to take advantage of all of it. Immerse yourself in the community life, and give yourself time to explore what you’re passionate about. Get to know your teachers and houseparents; they will be your biggest advocates. Work hard, and use the amazing opportunities at the Abbey to serve whatever community or cause is important to you.