Dhruv Gupta, MD

Undergrad: Tulane University

 

Over the course of your life, you have lived in every corner of the globe. How has that experience shaped you as a physician and as a person?

“My father works in the oil industry, so every couple years we moved around. I’ve lived in India, Thailand, Venezuela, the US, Canada, Bangladesh, the UK, and Grenada. Living abroad has helped me because it’s taught me how to be adaptable and work with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions. When I meet individuals from cultures different from mine, I feel that I know how to work with them because of the varied experiences I’ve had communicating with others and thinking through challenging situations. My ability to readily adapt helps on the floors because I’m able to work with patients and establish a rapport with them no matter where they come from. Moreover, as a product of living in Venezuela, in addition to it being one of my undergraduate minors, I became fluent in Spanish. It helps tremendously in communicating with Spanish-speaking patients.”

 

How did your upbringing carry into your experience at St. George’s University?

“With my international upbringing, I was drawn to and enrolled in the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program at SGU. England was a wonderful experience, and between basic sciences and clinicals, I really enjoyed living and learning in three different countries. Also, I was able to participate in the India selective in Karad, during which we really got to see the challenges that some physicians have to overcome to provide health care for their patients. It’s a situation in which you’re really asked to step out of your comfort zone.”

 

Why have you chosen psychiatry for your career path?

“I’m really passionate about psychiatry and looking forward to goindg deeper into the field. Various encounters in my life have led me to question what motivates human behavior. I took AP Psychology in 10th grade; one of my undergraduate majors was psych; I went on to do a master’s in psych; and my favorite clerkship during medical school was psych. It’s a lifelong passion of mine based on my experiences. Community mental health care is often stigmatized. There are many misconstrued conceptions. I really want to provide quality psychiatric care, but also to treat a person holistically, with deeper biological, behavioral, and social influences in mind.”

 

You actually accepted the psychiatry residency position at Mount Sinai Elmhurst well before Match Day. How did that come about?

“Less than a day after I interviewed there, I received an email from the program director indicating that they really liked me and would like to offer me a position in their program. I was really surprised because I didn’t know that was something that they could do, but it was very relieving. I’m excited for the opportunity.”

 

Days after officially becoming a doctor, you attended to a patient experiencing an in-flight emergency. What role did you play in her treatment?

“I was headed to India with my mom for a few days, and shortly after takeoff from London, a medical emergency was called onboard. There was a loud thud in the bathroom followed by a page for physicians on board. A passenger had collapsed in the bathroom and was found unresponsive. I initially wondered if there was anyone with more experience—I had just graduated—but I explained that I could tend to her, relying on the knowledge and skills I have gathered over my SGU career.

First, I checked to see if she had a pulse, which she did. We helped get her to the closest seat possible, took her blood pressure, wiped her face with water, and tried communicating with her. She eventually became aware of her surroundings. Her blood pressure ended up being low and her heart rate elevated, and when I examined her, I noted that her tongue was dry, and that she was severely dehydrated. When I began to speak to her, she explained that she had only had a cup of coffee that day, and when she was in the bathroom, everything had gone dark in front of her and she collapsed. I went on to listen to her heart and lungs. We were able to stabilize her with electrolyte solutions available in the first-aid kit, and restricted any further caffeine and/or alcohol consumption over the course of the flight. As the flight continued, we continued to monitor her and make sure she was feeling better.

It was a big moment for me because it was my very first unsupervised clinical experience. I’m incredibly thankful to SGU for the knowledge and skills that they have provided me that helped me attend to the situation onboard, and moreover, for making my dream of becoming a physician a reality.”

Jeff Vacirca, MD

Current Positions: CEO/Managing Partner and Chief of Clinical Research, New York Cancer Specialists; President, Community Oncology Alliance; Medical Director, ION/ABSG; CEO and President, National Translational Research Group

Undergrad: University at Albany

Residency: Internal Medicine, Stony Brook University Hospital

Fellowship: Hematology and Medical Oncology, Stony Brook University Hospital

 

How has New York Cancer & Blood Specialists fit into the puzzle for patients seeking cancer treatment?

“Historically, people felt like they had to drive 100 miles to be seen at a major cancer center. Now they realize that they can get the same care, or even better care in many instances, a mile from their house. People don’t have to go far anymore. If there’s a challenge and they need us, we’re right down the road. They can come right in and be seen within an hour. As a community-based cancer center, our goal is for our patients to be treated in the most convenient place possible, in addition to being in a place that has cutting-edge medical care. We want to give them every advantage that a patient could get anywhere else in the world, right where they live and work every day.

Your organization has 25 locations on Long Island. How does the kind of care you provide differ from other hospitals and clinical centers?

“It makes a tremendous difference for us and for them. Patients come into our office and they’re not a number. They’re recognized in every one of our centers because our staff knows who they are. We’ve tried to make it such a place where it isn’t scary.”

How do you believe that oncological care differs from other fields of medicine?

“There’s an intimacy in this field between patients and caregivers that you rarely see. The physicians become almost part of the family in taking care of patients. Also, this is probably the only medical specialty where we have new therapy that comes out to help people almost every month. To me, that’s pretty remarkable. We’re very fortunate in that our cancer center has been on the leading edge in helping define what these new therapies are going to be.”

You mentioned a unique intimacy to the doctor-patient relationship. In addition to the connections you make with your patients, how do you manage your emotions during the difficult times?

“Emotionally, it’s a difficult field of medicine to work in because, no matter how good we are, there are going to be people who die from cancer. It means we have a long way to go in defining what the best treatment is for patients. At the same time, even when we try our best, the outcome has sometimes already been determined. That in itself makes this a tough field for a lot of people to be in. You need to have those small wins every day. Just yesterday, I sat with a woman with metastatic breast cancer who I’ve taken care of for over eight years. I had to have a discussion with her where I said that we couldn’t give her anything in terms of treatment moving forward, but we could do some things about her quality of life in the time that she has left, to make it as meaningful as possible. Even though that was a really tough discussion to have with her, at the end of the day, she felt good about what she was doing and what we’ve been through together, so we’re able to see the next person and keep that positive feeling with you.”

You went from Long Island to Grenada and back. How has attending SGU shaped you as a physician?

“My experience at SGU forged an unbelievable independent group of doctors who worked together through everything. Now as I’m on the other end of it and I make the decision on who’s hired, when I see SGU grads, they get interviewed first because I know what they’re made of. I know how hard we worked, and I also know that they realize the value of teamwork. They know that they have to get through things together. They’re going to be smart, and I’ve yet to meet someone from SGU who wasn’t hard-working and in the field other than for the love of medicine.”

Salvior Mok, MD

Undergrad: University of British Columbia

Residency: General Surgery, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

Fellowship: Cardiothoracic Surgery, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Adult Cardiac Surgery, Yale-New Haven Hospital; Robotic Cardiac Surgery, Cleveland Clinic

What do you most enjoy about your current role?
“What I do is very rewarding because we can really be the difference between life and death a lot of the times. We take the best care of our patients as we can, and they and their family members are very grateful that we help.”

Going from law enforcement to medicine is an unusual transition, but you were in fact a police officer before entering medical school. What prompted you to change fields?
“I was with the police force for three years, but eventually felt that I wanted to do something more. As I got further away from being in school, I realized that sooner or later I couldn’t go back, so I decided to go to medical school. A friend of mine, Kenneth Yeung, MD SGU ’02, who has gone on to be very successful, had good things to say about SGU. I didn’t apply to any other school. The decision was easy for me. It’s a great alternative not only for people in the US but for people like me from around the world.”

You came to Buffalo after training at the acclaimed Cleveland Clinic. How has that experience prepared you for your position at Mercy Hospital and Catholic Health.
“Patients come from all over the world to Cleveland Clinic, which exposed me to diverse and complicated cases. It was a great training environment.

I’m very happy to be here at Mercy Hospital. The cardiology team is excellent and all the partners are wonderful. We work well together, and I feel as though I’m a valuable part of the team. It’s been a great experience so far.”

How would you describe your SGU experience?
“The campus and the island were really beautiful. I had a great time, and I made some friends who I still keep in touch with. Between the various lectures, the visiting professors, and doing my third- and fourth-year rotations at different locations, I was very well prepared.”

Russell Langan, MD

The patient, a man in his 50s, was in search of hope. His outlook was bleak; he’d been given six months to live, suffering from metastatic (Stage 4) cancer. The patient then sought the opinion of doctors at the National Cancer Institute, NIH, including then-fellow Russell Langan, MD SGU ’07.

“We treated him with a very aggressive, novel immunotherapy, and he responded exceedingly well,” Dr. Langan recalled.

The patient had a complete response to his therapy. Five years after the treatment, he visited Dr. Langan’s parents in upstate New York and asked if he could plant a tree in their yard to signify his appreciation for the care he received. Dr. Langan, now a surgical oncologist and hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB) surgeon at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and RWJBarnabas Health, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, appreciates those victories, and the impact that his care has had on so many.

“It’s touching to know that you’ve affected someone in such a fashion,” he said. “It’s just something you never forget.”

As a cancer surgeon, Dr. Langan and his team regularly collaborate with numerous departments to achieve the best possible outcomes for their patients and make seismic changes in their patients’ lives. His responsibilities center around operative and non-operative therapies related to disease and cancers within the abdomen, specifically those involving the liver, bile ducts, gall bladder, and pancreas. He enjoys not only the technical aspects of his position but also the long-term relationships that he’s able to build with patients and their families.

“I believe that there’s no better job out there,” Dr. Langan said. “The interpersonal interactions you have as a surgical oncologist far supersede other careers. You can offer hope to patients where others cannot. They put trust in our hands, and it drives me to do better.”

That said, the path to such a specialized field was quite arduous. After earning his Doctor of Medicine at SGU, Dr. Langan went on to complete five years of a general surgery residency at Saint Barnabas Medical Center and Georgetown University Medical Center. In addition, he completed three fellowships spanning five years.  But the journey was worth it. Through his decade of training, Dr. Langan has been involved with numerous clinical trials and has conducted research of his own, leading to national presentations, manuscripts, and book chapters devoted to multiple aspects of surgical oncology.

He isn’t alone among St. George’s University graduates practicing in such a specialized field.  While at the NCI, he worked closely with another SGU alum, Peter Prieto, MD SGU ’06, who performed his general surgery residency at Yale University.  Following their time at the NCI, Dr. Langan completed his fellowship in complex general surgical oncology and hepatopancreatobiliary surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, while Dr. Prieto went on to complete a fellowship in  complex general surgical oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.

They are the top two cancer centers in the United States according to US News & World Report.

“There is no doubt in my mind that SGU students can pursue whatever career they want,” he said. “There is no doubt about that.”

Dr. Langan came to St. George’s University after earning his bachelor’s degree at Cornell University, one of the largest sources of undergraduates to attend SGU’s School of Medicine. Before enrolling, however, he flew down to Grenada and spent five days talking to faculty and students—on and off campus—to learn more about the entire experience.

“After I did that, I had a sense that it was really going to get me where I wanted to be,” Dr. Langan said. “Not only is the island beautiful but it’s safe, and the people there are very welcoming.”

Outside of the basic sciences curriculum, he appreciated getting an early start on patient care by visiting Grenada General Hospital and participating in numerous health fairs and community events. As a result, he felt “exceptionally well prepared” for his board exams and rotations. In addition to his studies, he spent his free time playing intramural sports and hiking Grenada’s mountainous terrain.

“The education, lectureship and the laboratory mentorship that I had at St. George’s University far surpassed my expectations,” Dr. Langan said. “The education at SGU is literally top-notch. It’s one of the best places to train in the world because it prepares you well not only for the objective criteria for board exams but also for the real-life aspects of practicing medicine.”

The foundation he received allowed him to match into his top-choice program. His extensive research has helped him author more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and seven book chapters dedicated to surgical oncology. In addition to his clinical roles, Dr. Langan is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.

Dr. Langan enjoys his role as a mentor to young medical students who share the same dream that he had, so they too can positively influence the lives of others.

Roxanne Graham, MD

Amid a storm in an impoverished area outside Cape Town, South Africa, Roxanne Graham, then just a high school student, witnessed the impact that a physician could have.

“It was raining and raining, and a family had come to our clinic to tell us that a woman had given birth,” she recalled. “An ambulance couldn’t get close enough, so a doctor, a nurse, and I ran there in the rain to help. At that point, I said ‘wow, this is awesome.’ ”

Dr. Graham spent five months at the clinic, and it was a life-changing experience that she looks back on fondly as she completes her first year of a pediatrics residency at Western Michigan University School of Medicine.

“I was volunteering so I wasn’t earning any money, but I loved going back there every day to see the kids,” she said. “I always knew that I wanted to help kids because they’re the future of the population.”

WMU has been the ideal training location for her, as she’s taken on a wealth of responsibilities as an intern, yet has had plentiful supervision from attending physicians and chief residents. She also appreciates having open communication lines with them, allowing for feedback and for answers to any questions she may have.

“It’s challenging, but I’m really enjoying it,” she said. “I’m glad I matched here because the people are just phenomenal—they’re so kind and helpful.”

Of course, she had to adapt to a cooler climate in Michigan. Dr. Graham earned her Bachelor of Science in human life sciences from University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in 2011, and then a Bachelor of Science with Honours from its Tyberberg Campus a year later. She completed a year of stem cell research, and upon learning about SGU’s campus and credentials at an area information session, she applied and enrolled.

“I just thought that SGU was such an awesome opportunity,” she said. “I’m very adventurous and wanted to see another part of the world, plus I loved that it’s on an island and that I could meet new people.”

Dr. Graham made friends quickly, and through frequent study groups, she navigated her way through the rigorous courseload. On the side, she was a member of the University’s Pediatrics Club, and also carved out time to participate in the popular Thailand selective, during which she and several other SGU students had the opportunity to learn about traditional eastern style medicine and modern medical practices in both Bangkok and Krabi.

The trip had an added benefit. While in Thailand, she met her future husband, who had been visiting on holiday.

Dr. Graham’s upbringing in South Africa and international experience at SGU—between Grenada, Thailand, and the United States for clinical training and residency—has piqued her interest in global medicine. Dr. Graham plans on entering the global medicine track at WMU, which has brought residents to places like Madagascar, Peru, and Cuba in the past.

Her journey has taken her to places all over the world, just as she’d hoped.

“I’m really glad that I took the opportunity to go to SGU,” Dr. Graham said. “I met amazing people along the way, I met my husband, and I feel that if I’d stayed at home, I would not have been able to do what I’ve done and to experience the world like I have. I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be.”

– Brett Mauser

Carmen Avendaño, MD

As a fourth-year emergency medicine/pediatrics resident at University of Maryland Medical Center, Carmen Avendaño, MD SGU ’14, is just where she wants to be. And considering her family’s roots in medicine, perhaps it’s where she was destined to be as well.

Dr. Avendaño hails from a family of “many doctors and engineers”—her great-grandfather, grandfather, father, two uncles, and cousin were all physicians. Now a doctor herself, she is thriving in UMD’s unique combined program, for which she alternates three-month periods in the two fields, allowing her to see a wide array of patients, both young and old.

“Every day is different,” she said. “It’s like a puzzle that you have to figure out. There are some quiet days, but in the ED, there are also shifts when you have four codes come in at once. Sometimes you don’t have a break, but you don’t want a break. You just want to keep it going.”

Born and raised in Chile, Dr. Avendaño went on to graduate from the University of Minnesota with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and neuroscience. She spent a year in the everyday workplace, but didn’t feel fulfilled. That prompted her to jump into medicine with both feet.

“I knew it would take a lot of hours and a lot of work, but I didn’t want to sit at a desk; I had to do something to help people,” Dr. Avendaño said.

She applied at once to St. George’s University, and was accepted to the January 2010 entering class. From the beginning, Dr. Avendaño was drawn to critical care, and joined SGU’s Emergency Medicine Club shortly upon arrival. In addition, she used her experience in neuroscience to tutor students through the Department of Educational Services. Dr. Avendaño also made the most of her leisure time, enjoying Grenada’s many beaches, and playing hockey soccer, and flag football, among other activities.

“My experience at SGU was wonderful,” she said. “The classes and the teachers were great, and it’s such a beautiful island. I met people from all over the world who have the same exact priorities that I did.”

The unique January start time proved beneficial as she continued her studies, giving her extra time to study for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step exams, as well as time to travel before entering residency.

Dr. Avendaño enjoyed SGU and the island so much that she has returned to Grenada four times since graduating to reconnect with former faculty and staff, including Assistant Dean of Students Duncan Kirkby, with whom she plays hockey, and SGU staffer and friend Molly Campbell. Additionally, Dr. Avendaño encouraged her brother, Javier, to enroll in SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. He is scheduled to graduate later this month and walk with his veterinarian cohort in New York City in June.

“SGU gave me all the qualities and resources I needed to get where I needed to be,” Dr. Avendaño said. “I would definitely recommend it.”

Seleipiri Akobo, MD, MBA

Before and during her time at St. George’s University, Seleipiri Akobo, MD SGU ’15, MBA SGU ’16, had traveled all over the world—from her native Nigeria to the United States, United Kingdom, Thailand, and more. Now with a degree from SGU’s School of Medicine, she believes she can go anywhere she wants to continue her career as a physician.

“In family medicine, you have real experiences, use a wide range of skills, and are trained to deal with patients of different ages and backgrounds,” said Dr. Akobo, a second-year family medicine resident at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “I really want to be better at every aspect of it, and know that I can. I like that there are so many career options, including fellowships, that I can do.

“I can’t tell you for sure how my life will turn out,” she added, “but I see the big picture and believe that I am equipped to make decisions that will help patients and families.”

Dr. Akobo’s desire to enter the world of medicine took root at age 6 when a sickness left her brother bedridden in the hospital. His condition meant many hours waiting for a resolution, waiting for improvement.

“I had all these questions, and I saw how effective the doctors and nurses were in helping alleviate the pain and struggle that our family was going through,” she said.

She expressed her ambitions to her parents, who connected her with family friends in the medical field. Dr. Akobo’s upbringing then included even more trips to the hospital, but for a different reason—she wanted to learn and to help.

Dr. Akobo went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in human physiology from the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria, and then immigrated to the United States to continue her education at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. She earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from PSU before going on to serve as a registered nurse in Minnesota and Texas.

Dr. Akobo then turned her sights toward becoming a physician. When considering her options, at some point in the process, she “fell in love with SGU” because of its beautiful setting and track record for graduate success.

“I remember telling my dad that if I was able to go to the Caribbean, it has to be SGU,” she said.

The University’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, for which students spend their first year of study at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England, presented a unique opportunity that she couldn’t pass up. Upon enrolling, Dr. Akobo enjoyed its small class sizes, one-on-one time with NU faculty, and the ability to explore the region in her free time. In addition, her newfound friends became a tight-knit family that joined its Grenada classmates beginning in Term 3.

Dr. Akobo took advantage of the plentiful educational resources at SGU, including its Department of Educational Services, which provided test-taking strategies and study skills that prepared her for important exams and her clinical training in New York City. She diversified her résumé by completing a two-week medical selective in Thailand, as well as a research and teaching fellowship at SGU. After graduating, Dr. Akobo added a Master of Business Administration (MBA) as well, and she also holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Des Moines University.

“It’s nice to put in the work and see it pay off,” Dr. Akobo said. “SGU gives you the resources that allow you to succeed.”

Her success came when matching into the family medicine program at HCMC in 2016, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

“Medical school is not just about intelligence; the process is about staying power and resilience,” she said. “Along the way, you might actually have setbacks, but that you’re passionate about it and that you’re willing to commit to working toward that goal will set you apart. At the end of the day, I wanted this and I did it.”

Sepehr Lalezari, MD

As a bariatric and minimally invasive surgeon, Sepehr Lalezari, MD SGU ’11, believes the procedures he performs is as much about the lives that are positively affected as it is about the weight loss.

“To take someone who has struggled with something for their entire life, who are taking a multitude of medications, and then to see them be able to play with their kids, and go out and live a life that they couldn’t before is very rewarding,” he said.

Dr. Lalezari recently completed a bariatric and minimally invasive surgery fellowship at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, MD, and is now opening an advanced bariatric and minimally invasive general surgery practice in Los Angeles—where he grew up.

“What I enjoy about bariatric surgery is how technically demanding the cases are,” Dr. Lalezari said. “You’re always trying to better yourself and find different ways to do the operation more efficiently and with fewer incisions. It’s very interesting. Every day is new and exciting.”

At Johns Hopkins, he learned the most cutting-edge procedures such as single-site surgery and endoscopic surgery—“truly incisionless surgery,” he called it. Training at JHU was an “honor” and has put him in a unique position when starting private practice.

Born in Iran, Dr. Lalezari moved to California with his family at age 4. With the help of a highly influential primary school teacher, he overcame early difficulty with learning the English language to become a high achiever, eventually graduating magna cum laude—and two years early—from UCLA with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience.

Always dedicated to education, he spent some time as a high school biology teacher, after which he set off on his journey to become a physician, enrolling at St. George’s University.

“SGU was the only Caribbean school I even considered,” he said. “It had a good reputation, and I knew a lot of people who went there, worked hard, and ended up in the places they wanted to be.”

He embraced the culture in Grenada, where among other activities he provided instruction in basic life support through the American Heart Association and helped facilitate neuroscience review sessions.

“The faculty, staff, and people in Grenada were great,” Dr. Lalezari said. “It’s a great place to learn, and the education I received set me up to be successful. I also appreciated all the support from the staff there. If I had any questions or needed anything from them, they were always available.”

For his clinical training, Dr. Lalezari trained throughout the United States, including Florida, New York, California, and at Minnesota’s prestigious Mayo Clinic. Although he studied neuroscience as an undergrad, he steered his career toward bariatrics and minimally invasive surgery after seeing the long-term effects that his care could provide, as well as the long-term relationships he could develop with patients—similar to that of his primary care doctor growing up who first inspired him to pursue a career in medicine.

“With bariatric surgery, I love the relationships you develop with the patients,” he said. “They’re looking for a way out of their current situation, they’ve been fighting their entire lives, and you help them meet their goals. In the end, they’re so happy. The relationships that develop with patients over time is why I got into medicine in the first place.”

After graduation, Dr. Lalezari earned a general surgery residency at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati—his top-choice program—and he ascended to the rank of Chief Resident for the 2015-16 year. Following residency, he went on to complete his fellowship at Johns Hopkins—also his top choice.

Throughout his training, he has felt very much on par with his colleagues from US schools, and it was clear that SGU grads were “hungrier for success.”

In bariatrics, his success is now measured in the magnitude by which his patients’ lives are changed.

“I’m living what’s been my lifelong dream,” he said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with where I ended up, I love what I do and I have so many career choices because of where I’ve been. It’s been an amazing journey.”

Kris Mahadeo, MD

Pediatric cancer patients are met with an inconceivable challenge at an early age, and it will have been a long journey by the time they meet Dr. Kris Mahadeo. The 2003 St. George’s University graduate is the Section Chief and Medical Director of Pediatric Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

In many cases, he said, it’s the patients’ “last hope.” It’s also their best hope—MD Anderson is the leading cancer center in the United States.

“A lot of times, patients were admitted and have stayed for a long period of time,” said Dr. Mahadeo, who also serves as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics. “It’s a process, but when children can go home, which they never imagined in their lifetime, their reaction is priceless. It’s very fulfilling.”

Dr. Mahadeo has been on a long journey of his own, but has found a home in Houston. He grew up in Trinidad and Tobago before he and his family moved to New York City when he was 8. He went on to graduate cum laude from Adelphi University in New York with a Bachelor of Science in biology.

With an eye on studying medicine, he applied to 10 medical schools, with St. George’s University as the only international school. Through current students and graduates, he learned that SGU had “all the elements of education” for students to be successful, as well as a track record of placing graduates in highly competitive residency programs.

“There are so many graduates throughout the country who are quite successful,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t even realize your doctor is an SGU graduate.”

From day one, Dr. Mahadeo focused on obtaining a competitive residency, committing himself to his studies during his basic science years in Grenada and then two clinical years in the United States. He entered SGU with primary care as his likely career path, but was drawn to immunology over time, particularly as it relates to cancer care.

Dr. Mahadeo’s road to a career in hematology and oncology continued as he completed his pediatric internship year at Maimonides Children’s Hospital in New York City, and finished his residency at the Children’s Hospital at St. Peter’s in New Jersey. He opted to broaden his knowledge—and strengthen his resume—by earning a Master of Public Health from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Dr. Mahadeo then advanced to a pediatric hematology oncology fellowship at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and a pediatric blood and marrow transplantation fellowship at Duke University Medical Center.

His exposure to an international student body, faculty, and patient pool along the way has prepared him for his career in pediatrics.

“To meet people from across the world in Grenada, and then to work alongside classmates from other schools in the US, I think it shapes your perspective on health care,” Dr. Mahadeo said. “The global experience is really helpful for me because in this specialized field, we’re taking care of patients from all over, and we have to understand what’s endemic in those areas and treat patients in alignment with their values.”

Before joining MD Anderson, he spent three years as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein Cancer Center and an Attending Physician and Director of Marrow and Blood Cell Transplantation at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City. He served a similar role at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as Director of Quality Management and Attending Physician in Los Angeles. Dr. Mahadeo’s extensive research has focused on allogeneic stem cell transplantation and immunotherapy for solid tumors and genetic diseases, as well as critical care outcomes for children undergoing therapy. He currently serves as co-chair of the HSCT sub-group of the Pediatric Acute Lung Injury and Sepsis Investigators (PALISI).

The success stories are reminders of why he has gone down this career path. There’s the high school student whose transplant gave her a second life, the patient from Angola who messages him every year, the time a child who, after his third transplant, met his unrelated donor at halftime of a celebrity soccer game.

And the times when his pediatric patients can go home.

“We do a discharge parade, the staff and patients come out, and there’s confetti,” he said. “It’s very rewarding.”

Mondel George, MD, BSc

At a young age—just 17—Mondel George set off on his journey to become a physician. Born and raised in Grenada, he didn’t have to travel far to attend his dream school.

“St. George’s University was then, and still is, the most prestigious institution in the Caribbean, so there was nowhere else I would have rather attended,” said Dr. George, a 2015 School of Medicine graduate.

In addition to being a general practitioner on the island, Dr. George pays it forward at his alma mater by working as a learning strategist in the Department of Educational Services, providing medical students with the tools and tips to succeed both in their studies and in their careers.

His contribution is part of a network of support that helps the entire student body, just as it did for him through his undergraduate and medical studies at SGU.

“One thing that really sets SGU apart from other institutions is the amount of support that is offered to its students,” stated Dr. George. “There are numerous avenues for helping students, from the Psychological Services Center to University Health Services, including the Department of Educational Services and faculty open office hours. As a student, if you’re ever in need, there is someone here to help you at SGU.”

While pursuing his Bachelor of Science within the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), Dr. George was also a member of the Undergraduate Student Government Association and the Caribbean Students Association, while also serving as a teaching assistant and a volunteer at the SGU radio station. After completing his bachelor’s degree in three-and-a-half years, he took the summer off to work in Grenada’s Ministry of Agriculture.

In the past, he had volunteered with the Sickle Cell Association of Grenada, with mental health organizations, and at his local church. With a desire to help those in need, he applied to SGU’s School of Medicine program and received a scholarship to attend.

“When I started medical school, I felt like the foundation I had in SAS was incomparable to those students who did not previously attend SGU,” added Dr. George. “I was not only familiar with the campus but also with the professors, the test-taking formats, and the different resources I could go to for help. I never once felt like I was left alone in the wilderness. I feel like the lecturers here at SGU do an excellent job in terms of guiding you toward having a successful career.”

Dr. George greatly appreciates the foundation that SGU has created, which he is building upon to this day. He is a Charter Class member of SGU’s Master of Education program, with a graduation date of May 2018. Dr. George encourages others to follow a similar path to achieve their own goals.

“As an international university that is well respected, the diversity that SGU offers in unlike any other,” he said. “The connections that I made in undergrad are still present in my life today. The hands-on support that the University offered prepared me well to enter such a noble profession.”