Returning to her home turf opens doors for the future
Liza Sukra, an M.S. student in the GSBMS, vividly remembers waiting for her yellow pre-school bus as a four-year-old living in NYMC student housing while her mom, now a pediatrician, completed her medical studies. Though her academic career has taken her a long way from the local pre-school, Sukra, now a graduate of Duke University, returned to NYMC in the fall of 2016 to pursue her Master of Science degree—and finds she relishes the sense of community, with faces both familiar and new.
Tell us what led you to New York Medical College?
My mom [Vanessa Sukra, M.D. ’95] is a graduate of the New York Medical College School of Medicine and completed her residency in pediatrics at Westchester Medical Center. My godmother, an internist, who was a fellow student and mentor to my mom when she was at NYMC, was an inspiration too. When I completed my undergraduate studies, I had not yet finished all of my pre-med requirements, and I wanted to challenge myself before applying to medical school. When I learned about the program here, I knew it would be the perfect fit. And it has been.
What achievement are you most proud of during your time at NYMC?
I am proud to have completed my first year. My transition from undergrad to grad school was a bit difficult, as I finished my undergraduate education in August and started classes here two days later! But the small size of the program at NYMC compared to my undergraduate degree program was a big help. You don’t feel like you are competing with hundreds of students like you do as an undergraduate student. It’s been really nice to see the same people and know you are all working toward similar goals.
Have you had any clinical experiences?
Yes, I had an interesting experience shadowing at the Duke University Cancer Center. Although I applied to shadow a physician specializing in the area of allergy and immunology, which is the area I am interested in, I was placed with a physician specializing in oncology and immunology. The doctor was so well-respected in the hospital, it ended up being a great experience for me. It was also quite an emotional journey because while I was shadowing, my grandmother passed away from cancer and I was interacting with all of these cancer patients . I also served as a research assistant at the Duke Center for Autism and at the Duke University Cognitive-Behavioral Research and Treatment Program. Earlier, I worked in a pediatrician’s office locally doing patient intake. It’s been a wide range of experiences, but they each helped solidify my decision to pursue a path to medical school.
What class or experience has had the greatest impact on you?
I would say that my entire undergraduate major—cultural anthropology—has had the greatest impact—even though it was not purely science- related. However, one of the things about being a doctor is dealing with people and communities that are diverse, and only getting more so—and that is one of the reasons I chose the cultural anthropology major. I also added as many pre-med classes as I could as an undergraduate. I truly hope this combination will make me more culturally competent as a health care professional.
What advice would you give incoming GSBMS students?
I would tell incoming GSBMS students to take advantage of all of the resources available at NYMC. Not only do we have professors who are extremely accessible, but older students in the Basic Medical Sciences program, in the medical school, and in various Ph.D. programs have proven to be great tutors, have helped guide me, and have given me sound advice during my first year.
How do you unwind and relax?
One of the perks of being from the area is that I’m home! Spending time with my family and best friends is a luxury I didn’t have in college, and it is one of my favorite things to do to unwind. We like to try new restaurants, go to some of our favorites, and go bowling. I also will admit, I enjoy a good television binge-watch from time to time.