Corey Ballaera of Bergen County, NJ, studied physics for his undergraduate degree in the College of New Jersey. But a major in physics he said, didn’t compare to the volume and intensity of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies in Biological and Physical Sciences Program.
“The was one of the toughest years of school for me,” said Ballaera who attended the program at TouroCOM Harlem’s campus. But he had no regrets. “It was everything I wanted.”
Ballaera, along with more than 100 students, celebrated their matriculation from the TouroCOM Harlem and Middletown programs on May 8, 2017. The ceremony for TouroCOM Harlem students took place at the Al Hambra Ballroom in Harlem; the ceremony for TouroCOM Middletown took place at the Paramount Theater in Middletown.
The year-long program provides students with the masters degree and the highest achieving students directly matriculate into the TouroCOM DO program. The year is an often grueling exercise in scholarship, but for the students who celebrated on the sun-dappled streets in Harlem and Middletown, the challenge made the celebration more meaningful.
Students spoke of a variety of reasons they wanted to attend: to better prepare for their first-year of medical school, to retake the MCATs and even to examine whether the medical profession was a good fit for them.
Shanira Suazo, a graduate of Clarkson University who plans to retake the MCAT said that she felt “so accomplished” after graduating from the TouroCOM Harlem program.
“I feel stronger than ever,” she said, holding a bouquet of flowers.
Krystal Savice studied dental hygiene as a student at NYU. After practicing as a hygienist for three years, she said she realized she wanted to do more in healthcare. She looked into osteopathic medicine and discovered the TouroCOM Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies in Biological and Physical Sciences.
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“The program was life-changing,” said Savice. “I didn’t think I’d make it through. But I remember what my mentor in TouroCOM said: ‘Remember your passion and channel it.’ I felt more confident with every test.”
Dr. Lynne Holden, a member of the TouroCOM Harlem board and the director of Mentoring in Medicine, a program that helps minority students enter the medical field, was the keynote speaker for the Harlem celebration. Dr. Ulrick Vieux, the psychiatry residency director at Orange Regional Medical Center, where many TouroCOM Middletown students fulfill their rotations, was the keynote speaker for the TouroCOM Middletown celebration.
“Remember your roots and be grateful for what Touro has provided you,” said Dr. Vieux. “This is a top-notch institution. As program director when I’m looking at residents I’m secure with the quality that Touro provides.”
TouroCOM Middletown also presented awards for the first time in their medical simulation internship, where students learned how to insert IV and restoring basic airway functions in the TouroCOM Middletown Medical Simulation Lab.
Describing the program, Dr. Alan Kadish, president and CEO Of Touro College and University System, explained:
“I know that many of you made great sacrifices in order to reach this landmark,” he said. “It marks an important milestone in your life… Whatever path you choose, I am hopeful, and confident, that Touro has equipped you with the knowledge you need to achieve your goals.”
TouroCOM Harlem Alex Torres thought so.
“I had a lot of personal growth in the program,” said Torres. “Succeeding in the MS program taught me how much potential I have.”