A Brief Synopsis of My Scientific Journey
By Mathieu Perez
My scientific journey started when I enrolled in MCNDHS. I was new in NYC like many of my classmates and we all had to face similar challenges such as language, for some a completely different culture, and isolation from loved ones for most of us. Though we all had challenges to face, the one thing that we had in common was our new family at MCNDHS. There, I discovered my passion through internships, and made meaningful relationships. This high school became my home, and teachers and staff rapidly took me in as one of their one.
Though education has always come from an internal locus of motivation, I had not determined my career pursuits when I entered MCNDHS. In retrospect, this was a problem in disguise because I was able to explore different opportunities that allowed me to pin-point what I was passionate about. My first and most significant experience took place in Living Environment class instructed by a brilliant and compassionate teacher, Mr. Alfred Lwin. Mr. Lwin created a safe environment for students to not only learn but ask questions. Here, my science curiosity spawned, and I developed confidence to ask questions and ask for assistance if I needed it. Furthermore, Mr. Lwin held (and still does!) University-level research year-long programs. At the time I did not realize the importance of this opportunity but in college I was ahead of many of my classmates because of Mr. Lwin’s lessons and research opportunities. Mr. Lwin was not only my teacher but became my best friend and I often feel like his son.
In the same ways as Mr. Lwin took me under his wing, other staff and teachers showed me that education goes beyond grades. Mr. Mark Testa was my academic advisor, who has always been open to talk to me about my personal life. Ms. Margaret Aylward from CDI knew my personal-life hurdles and has always offered her assistance; she offered me a tutoring job and nominated me for the science merit scholarship that helped me pay for college. Ms. Gloria and Briana were two of the most understanding people that always offered their unconditional advice. It has been important for me to maintain these connections as part of my personal life.
After MCNDHS I was determined to pursue a degree in science, so I began college at Queensborough Community College. I then transferred to The City College of New York and graduated with an honors B.S.-M.S. in biochemistry and biophysics. Hard work and determination allowed me to be part of Harvard Medical School, American Chemical Society, National institutes of Health, MIT, and Columbia, which are some of the institutions where I had obtained prestigious scholarship and fellowships. After college I was determined to enter an M.D.-Ph.D. program. I was fortunate to have scored in the 98th percentile for my MCAT, and to have published several scientific articles that allowed me to receive offers from competitive programs such as Harvard-MIT, Cornell, and U. Penn. I ultimately accepted the full-ride offer from one of the most prestigious programs in the nation and worldwide -the University of California, San Francisco, and the NIH Oxford-Cambridge M.D.-Ph.D. program.
MCNDHS was a strong foundation that not only provided me with knowledge, but it equipped me with meaningful relationships that have shaped my life. I look forward to a future where I will be able to actively participate in assisting people to improve their lives with medicine and science. For now, I hope to be lucky enough to help students, like myself, to not trip over obstacles I once did so that they can progress at a much faster pace.