Blackwell Scholars Prep for Med School – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Blackwell Scholars Prep for Med School

This year, the Classes of 2008 Blackwell Medical Scholars, seniors Meaghan McCarthy and Nicholas Baranco, will graduate and go on to study at the SUNY Upstate Medical Center.

Applying during their senior year of high school, McCarthy and Baranco met the rigorous academic requirements and demonstrated a commitment to a career in medicine as required for the scholarship. As recipients, they receive full-tuition scholarships for four years here as well as a guaranteed seat in medical school at SUNY Upstate Medical Center, and a waiver of the requirement to take the Medical College Admission Test.

Growing up in Malone, N.Y., McCarthy, a biology major and dance minor, says she always wanted to be involved with medicine. “I was one of those kids who knew at an early age that I wanted to be a doctor. Both of my parents are nurses, and so I grew up watching the Discovery Channel (and not ER) and listening to descriptions of operations over the dinner table. I guess I inherited from them a fascination with the human body and how it works.” As a dance minor and through her Anatomy of Dance class, McCarthy was able to connect dance to medicine and gain a rounder, more personal take on medicine. “It just made sense.”

While at HWS, McCarthy has interned at the Biology Summer Science Program as a research assistant under Dr. Ning Zhang at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES),an extension of Cornell University. During her internship, McCarthy researched DNA hybridization using macroarrays. “I would estimate that I ran hybridization tests on over 100 plant and soil samples, which are routinely submitted to the NYSAES, in order to test the effectiveness of the macroarray diagnostic technique.” In addition, McCarthy appears as the second author of an article titled “A Macroarray System for the Detection of Fungal and Oomycete Pathogens of Solanaceous Crops,” which was recently submitted to American Phytopathological Society of Plant Disease.

She also interned at the Finger Lakes Surgical Center in Geneva and at Geneva General Hospital. Without the pressure of the MCATs and their requirements and with her requisites completed, McCarthy says she got to try some things she never expected to, like research at the NYSAES for two summers, a semester abroad in Galway and singing in an a cappella group. “It’s been really fun.”

Baranco, who hails from Sewanee, Tenn. (a town of less than 2000), is a physics major and German minor and also knew from a very young age (four, he estimates) that he wanted to be a doctor. He is currently interning at Geneva General Hospital in the radiology department, and, concordant with his interest in surgery, this fall he interned at Geneva General with Dr. Peter D’Silva, a senior surgeon. His time at the hospital was divided between the office and the operating room, allowing him to see different sides of medicine.

Like McCarthy, Baranco says that the Blackwell Scholarship afforded him opportunities “to do what he wants to do [at HWS], to take advantage of a liberal arts curriculum.” Baranco has taken advantage of both the sciences and the foreign languages at Hobart and William Smith. “The entire physics department has been extremely influential to me throughout my years at HWS,” says Baranco. “Professor Penn has pushed me to new levels of academic achievement. Professor Allen has helped me to understand physics and my life goals in a much clearer way.”

But Baranco’s scholarly interests don’t end at the lab door. “I love studying German culture, language and literature,” he says. “Professor Klaus’ passion for the language and his ability as a professor motivated me to pursue studying German at HWS. Ultimately, he played a huge role in my decision to study abroad in Tübingen last spring.”

Baranco is also an active Eagle Scout as well as a fencing instructor for the HWS club team, which he got involved in during his first year.

Both McCarthy and Baranco will attend the SUNY Upstate Medical Center, continuing in the pursuit of their collective childhood ambition of becoming Dr. McCarthy and Dr. Baranco.