A first generation college grad sets his sights on a career in medicine
The teaching hospital in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, offered an innovative opportunity to college student Charles White—he could shadow physicians as they went about the rigors of hospital-based patient care, everything from performing surgeries to completing paperwork. The experience, which gave White his first chance to connect with patients strengthened his determination to pursue a path to medicine. His journey has brought him to NYMC where he feels both welcomed by the community, challenged by his coursework and inspired by the dedication and caring of those around him. But now it’s not just M.D.s and Ph.D.s. It’s his NYMC peers and colleagues.
Tell us what led you to New York Medical College
The NYMC professors and advisors have a reputation for being really helpful and available for the students. Once I got here, I knew that reputation was deserved—it wasn’t just something written on the website. The small classes and the evening schedule were also a draw. And the diversity of the student population turned out to be the icing on the cake.
How did you become interested in science and medicine?
I’ve been interested in science almost as long as I can remember since I was in an accelerated science program in the fourth grade. That’s the book and the school part. Then, there was the “fun” part. By that, I mean things that were classified as “science fiction.” I knew they weren’t real, but as a child, it always piqued my interest. Especially Professor X from the TV series X-Men supposedly had “mind powers.” To this day, I believe that’s what led me to become interested in neuroscience.
What NYMC faculty member has had the greatest impact on your education and why?
Professor Carl Thompson [Carl I. Thompson, Ph.D., professor of physiology] and Professor Ken Lerea [Kenneth M. Lerea, Ph.D., associate professor of cell biology and anatomy and program director of the interdisciplinary basic medical sciences traditional track] have both be invaluable to me. They are always available to help with explaining concepts. But they also give guidance about how to be a well-rounded student. I spoke on the telephone with Dr. Lerea after I had received the email of my acceptance. I called him, and he asked me genuine questions like, “what do you most looked forward to?” and “what do you want to gain from the program?” I was really impressed with that.
You studied neuroscience as an undergrad. Do you intend to continue on this path?
I had some very meaningful clinical research experiences in neuroscience as an undergrad. One study I worked on tested what infants were thinking, using EEG caps to monitor brain activity—that was pretty amazing. But I have a long way go before I have to decide my specialty. Lately, there are many days that I think the best place for me would be as a general practitioner, particularly in underserved areas. There is a great need.
What advice do you have for incoming GSBMS students?
My best advice is to come ready and willing to learn. Also be ready to work hard because they are definitely going to push you. But the community is so welcoming; so ready to help you learn. There are a lot of people here to support you. Be excited for what’s to come.