Marcelo Rodrigues Zacarkim graduated from the medical program at Universidade Potiguar (UnP) in December 2012 and has been accepted to participate in a program at one of the world’s most prestigious universities, Harvard University, in the United States of America. Marcelo will be a Clinical Practice Research Fellow from 2013 to 2014. In an interview, the recent graduate talked about his passion for medicine, praised his experiences at UnP and his time there as a student as well as the process to be admitted to Harvard University. Check out the interview:
- What led you to choose medical school?
Curiosity has always been a very strong feature in my personality. I have always been interested in new discoveries in different fields, discoveries that lead to advances that change people's lives. My interest has only grown over time and has become more focused on those findings that not only improve the quality of life, but that also increase lifespan. It was in medicine that I found what I was looking for - a program of study that would give me the knowledge to delve into these topics through research as well as through direct contact with patients and be able to help them.
- How did UnP’s medical school contribute to your personal and professional development?
I knew my school was going to become my second home and after seeing my options, I knew UnP was the right fit. The entire UnP staff welcomed me with open arms and gave me opportunities to participate in tutoring, internships in leading regional hospital and provided me with access to courses in other health sciences during my program. During my program I had the opportunity to be the local director of IFMSA (International Federation of Medical Students), which is part of the DENEM (National Association of Medical Students) and is affiliated with the Medical Student Centre with the full support of UnP’s School of Health. This experience gave me have contact with medical students from different countries, which helped me develop my organizational teamwork and leadership skills. In the professional field, combining the excellence of teaching from experienced teachers, the resources used in theoretical and practical classes, and the encouragement of research, from the first day of the program gave me the knowledge and skills I knew I needed to reach my goals. I initiated several research projects and had the opportunity to present at national and international conferences in countries like Spain and the United States, and completed a clinical internship in Greece and am published in journals in Argentina. All this experience has enriched my knowledge and also sharpen my desire to spend time outside Brazil after finishing my program.
- Regarding the program at Harvard, what will you be doing and how did you win this opportunity?
U.S. universities have accepted students from around the world for many years. When I chose to spend time outside Brazil, my choices were the United States, England and Australia. The process to get accepted to study abroad is quite time consuming and bureaucratic, so that when I got an initial positive response, I focused to make it to the interviews.
The first step of the process is focused on an analysis of resume, transcripts, published works, level of English, letters of recommendation and a brief "personal statement". Once selected, I went through a series of online interviews before I was personally invited to go to Boston. When I received the acceptance letter from Dr. Felipe Fregni, the course director, I was told it was my performance in the interviews that pushed me to the top and earned me a spot at Harvard in 2013-2014.
The "Clinical Research Fellow Practice" it focused on clinical research, where I will have theoretical and practical activities from Monday to Friday at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Medical Center - University Hospital of Harvard Medical School. The course objective is to increase the interest of scholars from developing countries in clinical research and basic science. The proposal is to train physicians so that they become leaders with international connections and that will give me the privilege of being trained by renowned cardiologist Dr. C. Michael Gibson, whose global reputation earned him the recognition of "America's Top Doctors" by the U.S. News & World Report.
- What does this achievement mean to you? It is the realization of a dream?
When I was 16, I did the last year of "High School" in the United States, more specifically in the state of Connecticut and it was there that I began to hear about the most prestigious universities in the world. I remember that American students longed to apply to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Oxford and others. Since that time I wanted to one day study at Harvard, however I kept this dream bottled up until I felt I had the skills and experience to earn a spot. This achievement shows that the dream of a teen can be realized many years later, in my case at age 26, so there's time for everything, what you need to do is prepare and invest in yourself. Thank you very much to UnP for contributing to my education and hence the realization of this dream.
This article was originally written in Portuguese and has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.