DOCTORS OF TOMORROW 2020-2021 WINNING ESSAYS

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$300 PRIZE ESSAY WINNER: ALEX VASILAKOPOULOS

Monsters Inside Me. That one Animal Planet TV show has fueled my dreams to pursue a career in medicine since I was nine years old. Each episode featured three stories of people infected with rare diseases, such as rat lungworm or leishmaniasis. My family was disgusted by the show; I was enthralled. I had never been so passionate about something: I would play along with the show and successfully diagnose patients with necrotizing fasciitis and Naegleria fowleri. The infectious disease specialists, reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, would solve the
mystery by piecing together vital clues from the patient’s symptoms, history, and lab results, ultimately finding a diagnosis. Fever, cloudy urine, and petechiae on the legs: dengue fever. Jaundice, repetitive nightmares after returning from Ghana, and elevated eosinophils: malaria. Infant with loss of both appetite and motor control: infant botulism. Ever since my father decided to flip to channel 57, I have wanted to become a pediatric infectious disease specialist. My goal is to diagnose children with mysterious illnesses around the world, by working with either Médecins Sans Frontières or the World Health Organization. It appears that Monsters Inside Me spawned a monster inside of me, one determined to find the diagnosis.

$200 PRIZE ESSAY WINNER: NOELLE NACCARATO

I came from a test tube. To understand which major influence contributed to my desire to become a physician why not start at the very beginning. My parents had a difficult time getting pregnant so they turned to a reproductive endocrinologist for help. They used In Vitro Fertilization with the implantation of three embryos to get pregnant. Two of them stuck and here was the conception of my brother and I. We grew up in an amazing home with two great parents who we both love dearly. They were meant to be parents and raised me so incredibly well. It breaks my heart to think that there was a chance that without IVF I would not be here today. There are many other couples who are unable to have children on their own and cannot become amazing parents without IVF. I would like to take part in helping with that. I desire to become a reproductive endocrinologist so that I can be part of the solution and positively impact those who are experiencing the same challenges that my parents did. This is extremely personal to me as one doctor made the difference for my family, and I wish to be the doctor that makes a difference for others.