Student Achievement

An Aspiring Doctor Finds Inspiration at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Elisabeth Tavarez

September 23, 2019—Marist students have long supported the good work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Last year, in fact, Marist was named a top ten fundraising college by the hospital, which offers free services for children battling cancer. According to the organization’s website, “The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion, or a family's ability to pay.”

Katie Poluzzi, a transfer student double majoring in biomedical sciences and medical technology, is proud to be associated with this worthy cause. She serves on the executive board of Marist’s annual Up ‘til Dawn fundraiser, which brings in tens of thousands of dollars every year to support St. Jude’s work, and her commitment to raising funds for the organization is deeply personal. Says Poluzzi, I started raising money for St. Jude because of the amazing treatments and support they bring to families all around the world. Patients and their loved ones never have to worry about a bill; they only have focus on trying to get better. In high school, I lost a dear friend who had a rare sarcoma, so I knew that helping out an organization such as this would be a beautiful way to honor her memory and help those who are experiencing one of the scariest times in their lives.

As an executive board member, Poluzzi had the opportunity attend the St. Jude Collegiate Leadership Seminar in Memphis this summer, along with about 200 other college students from across the country. The conference included leadership and fundraising training, as well as the opportunity to tour St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and interact with patients and medical staff. For this aspiring physician, the experience was a dream come true.  According to Poluzzi, Shadowing an oncologist and interacting with patients and their families are experiences I will never forget. I learned so much about proper patient care, current research being conducted, and the procedures these young patients have to endure. It truly was a magical experience seeing everyone in the hospital have a smile on their face, working 24/7 to provide the best care possible.

The junior from Clintondale, New York is on the pre-medical track at Marist, and experiences like the conference at St. Jude are preparing her for a future career as a doctor. In Poluzzi’s view, Marist is definitely prepping me to become an excellent health care professional. My professors provide endless support answering questions and explaining difficult concepts. In labs, we learn a lot of hands-on material, which really helps solidify what we are learning in class and prepares us for graduate school. Marist’s School of Science has a gross anatomy lab that undergraduate students have access to, a resource that greatly enhances their studies. Students obtain additional hands-on experience through internships in local health care provider offices and faculty-sponsored research. Poluzzi’s professional goal is to advance the fight against childhood cancer by becoming a pediatric oncologist. Having proven her firm commitment to the cause, she is well on her way to achieving this goal.

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