NYMC > News and Events > News Archives

SOM Student Commencement Speaker Embarks on OB/GYN Residency

Ashley Sacks is Set to Inspire the Next Generation of Physicians at Commencement

May 07, 2024
Ashley Sacks, SOM Class of 2024
Ashley Sacks, SOM Class of 2024

What inspired you to pursue your degree?

I was originally a business administration major when I entered college, but an experience I had before college shifted my career path. Before I attended the University of Southern California (USC), I deferred my enrollment and took a gap year volunteering in Israel, where I worked on the Magen David Adom ambulances and taught English. I fell in love with the work that I was doing. I felt so much purpose every day. I had an amazing experience, but I went back to my original plan of studying business. It wasn't until the end of my sophomore year in college when I really started to rethink things and realized I might not be on the right path for myself. At that point, I decided to pursue medicine.
What type of research have you been involved in during your time at NYMC? 

I pursued a wide variety of research, most specifically in OB/GYN and psychiatry. My OB/GYN research has largely focused on urogynecology, comparing suture types for different surgeries in that field and seeing if there's one that's better than the other. For my psychiatry research, I evaluated a Suboxone service that Lidia Klepacz, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, created at Westchester Medical Center, and I looked at whether there were any racial or ethnic disparities in the patients who were referred to her service for treatment as well as the outcomes for these patients in terms of their length of hospital stay and whether we successfully connected patients with outpatient addiction services.
What has helped motivate you along your educational journey? Have you encountered any challenges along the way?

I encountered many challenges along the way. I don't have any family in medicine, so this is a completely new world for all of us. It is challenging to navigate, especially if you don't have that sense of guidance, in terms of how really to pursue a career in this field. But what I did have was support from my family and my friends. They are my biggest cheerleaders. I absolutely couldn’t do this without them. I'm just grateful to have had that support to guide me through medical school.
After you graduate, what is your dream career?

I will be pursuing a residency program in OB/GYN at Northwell Health. I think I would be very happy working as a generalist in the field, but I also can see myself being really excited about some of the fellowship opportunities that can stem from a residency in OB/GYN. Of course, I'm also nervous. I think it will be a challenge, but it is one that I definitely welcome and I'm excited to get started.
What made you choose NYMC?

I really loved the focus that NYMC had on community, specifically among the students. I picked up on that very quickly. I felt it in each student interaction I had and in each conversation with faculty members. Everyone really stressed that once you're here, we're family and we're all going to get through it together. That sentiment carried on throughout my time here. The people here are very collaborative. Students are always sending study guides in the group chats and willing to help each other out. Being able to feel supported by your peers and faculty while going through such a difficult journey like medical school really made a difference.
What has been your favorite aspect of being an NYMC student?

Definitely the people. I also can't say enough about the training, academics, and research opportunities. All of that has been wonderful. But I believe that the key to enhancing all those small aspects that NYMC offers lies in the people who are there. I couldn't say enough wonderful things about my classmates. They are some of the most brilliant, curious, driven, and kind people I have ever met. And the faculty is there to support you each step of the way. I'm really grateful for the people that I've met.
What faculty member has had the greatest influence on you here?

Dr. Klepacz has had the greatest influence on me. She teaches the Brain and Behavior course, which was my first introduction to the field of psychiatry. I love how much counseling and education there is in that field, and how focused you are on the specific patient in front of you. She taught me to treat each patient with a fresh set of eyes, which is a mentality you can carry into any field you go into. I was very fortunate to have worked with Dr. Klepacz in the Sydney E. Frank Fellowship Program between my M1 and M2 years. I was then accepted into The H.I.L.L.S. Mentorship Program that she directs. The program focused on learning about the field, as well as learning about yourself and how to grow as a physician. Having a female mentor, somebody that can show me how to be a strong female in medicine, is something that I'm incredibly grateful for.
What advice would you give applicants or incoming students?

Try everything. It’s exciting. There are so many opportunities in medical school that you can explore. I went on a transplant organ procurement where we went on a helicopter to another hospital, and then helped place fresh organs into another patient. It was an incredible experience. I tried to expose myself to everything I could because once you're a resident, you don't have that time to explore anymore. Being able to take advantage of those unique opportunities is something that's special about medical school. Also, medicine is challenging. Do not lose sight of why you chose this profession and do not get caught up in some of the glamorization of medicine. Trust yourself and know that you are meant to be here and that you're capable. Everything you hope for will come to fruition.
Outside of your studies, what are your hobbies or interests?

I love to play board games to destress and hang out with my family and friends.
Are you a part of any student organizations or interest groups?

I’m involved in the OB/GYN Interest Group and the Psychiatry Interest Group, I spent some time working with the NYMC Center for Human Rights, where we conduct some of the psychiatric evaluations for people that are seeking asylum in the United States. I also worked with the Gender and Sexual Minorities Lecture Series doing research and looking at how talking about these concepts in more of a relaxed setting helps students in medical school feel more confident working with a diverse patient population as physicians. I was also involved in the House of Representatives at NYMC, representing the Kogel House. I'm very grateful to now be involved in the Gold Humanism Honor Society, where this year I served as co-president of the NYMC chapter.
What is a fun fact about you?

I grew up as an official toy Tester for The National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval program, which meant I tested board games and educational games all throughout my childhood. It made me absolutely fall in love with games. It was super fun and a great way to spend time with my parents and my four siblings.