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Uncommon Talents Among Smarties


Perhaps one of the most unique aspects in the culture of medical school is the integrative class of students that survive together through the obstacles in this metamorphosis. Individually and as a collective whole, we trudge through the same curricular rigors, learning to balance life, work and everything else in between. We bond with our fellow classmates, through celebration or suffering. Our mutual bonding is a way to observe the diverse background and hidden talents that make our big family unique and multifaceted. Beyond our scientific acumen, some of us juggle side-hobbies as musicians, chefs, craftspersons, comedians — and the torrent of talent runs abundant.

Alexis is one of these unique bodies. As a non-traditional student, his path to medicine is unusual and unexpected in the aspects of performing arts as well as service. Though he grew up as a Canadian professional actor, he jokingly states his acting career started “in utero.” When he started undergraduate at Yale University, he was actively involved in the university theatre and various film programs, thriving in the collegiate community and demonstrating the empathy necessary to relate to characters. Later on, he spent a few years in the professional acting circle in Los Angeles, producing some television movies and participating in screenwriting projects.

When asked about his interest in medicine, Alexis has always been interested in the study of people. Having been a science geek growing up, he felt burnt out after majoring in pre-med in college and wanted to explore the world some before committing to a life of medicine. Although he pursued his artistic and performing passions prior to medical school, he was always engaged in the science and humanitarianism, starting a tutoring company four years ago and creating a specialized program for blind students. Interested in the underrepresented populations, he worked with experts in different fields create digitized programs that explain visual images from textbooks into descriptions for blind students. This provided a novel way for this unique population to engage in the visual aspects of textbooks. Alexis’ ongoing project has not only been implemented in many universities, but it can also convert any educational material into text and auditory format.

To Alexis, medicine and the performing arts are one and the same. “It’s about people! And I love people!” He exclaims in enthusiasm when inquired about the similarities between the two fields. The people-centric approach and storytelling involved are major attractors for him to pursue medicine as well as performing arts. The adaptability, listening, flexibility and critical thinking are also additional overlaps that he has observed.

Having just started medical school, Alexis has loved the burgeoning path of his lifelong passion though he admits to the incredible amounts of studying that already inundate his life. Going forward, Alexis intends to keep his extracurricular passions: screenwriting, maintaining his tutoring company and participating in humanitarianism efforts available at his institution. Currently, the greatest challenges he foresees is keeping up with the academic rigor while maintaining his various extracurricular interests. As any reasonable medical student, his worst worry is being unaware of his own limitations and becoming overly ambitious. Looking forward to the future, it’s going to be a bright and busy year for Alexis!

Nita Chen Nita Chen (35 Posts)

Medical Student Editor and in-Training Staff Member

Albany Medical College

Nita Chen is a Class of 2017 medical student at Albany Medical College. To become cultural, she spent her early educational years in Taiwan and thoroughly enjoyed wonderful Taiwanese food and milk tea, thus ruining her appetite for the rest of her life in the United States. Aside from her neuroscience and cognitive science majors during her undergraduate career, she holed herself up in her room writing silly fictional stories, doodling, and playing the piano. Or she could be found spazzing out like a gigantic science nerd in various laboratories. Now she just holes up in her room to study most of the time.