Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Erica Skipton

skiptonName: Erica Skipton
UR Major:  Biology
Other UR Majors/Minors: English
Additional Education: Medical School, SUNY Upstate Medical University
Current City, State of Residence: Syracuse, NY
Job Title: Medical Student
Employer: US Navy
Community Activities: Syracuse Chorale, multiple free clinics, Vocal Music Club, Global Health Team

How did you choose your major(s)?

I always knew that I wanted to go into a medical career, so I knew coming into college that I needed to do all of the premedical requirements. Just doing that and taking a couple extra biology classes that interested me got me a BA in biology. Someone gave me some excellent advice that I should use my time in college to explore things I wouldn’t get to learn about in my medical education, so I decided to major in something else I love, English.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was a D’Lion for two years and participated in OBOC, Women’s Chorus, and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I also was a TA for organic chemistry, ecology, and anatomy/physiology. The greatest gain from these involvements was the many relationships that I was able to develop and still have to this day. College is a time to really find what you love and explore things that are new and different. While I sincerely believe that I received the highest quality education while at UR and am very grateful for the relationships I formed with faculty members in the classroom, all of my fondest college memories are from the things I did outside of the classroom.

What did you wish you had known before graduating? What would you have done differently?

I think a recurring theme in life is that we very rarely appreciate what we have until it is gone. My years in undergrad were the best years of my life (not to say I don’t love what I am doing now). At no other time during life are you offered the freedom to do whatever you want—to explore, to discover, to interact with friends and peers. Yes, you have to study and complete all your coursework, but I wish I had focused a little less on the classroom in order to truly embrace the community of my peers who lived with me and studied with me every day. UR is filled with unique and wonderful people. Take the time to learn from them and from their experiences.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

I went straight into medical school, which was the right thing for me. Some people still just aren’t quite sure what they want to do, and for those people committing to more years of education and the financial obligation that that entails may not be the right choice. You can always go back to school later, at least in the scope of medical schools, your life experiences will be seen as an asset. For people like me who know what they want to do and have found what they love, going right into graduate school is a good way to go. Medical education is a long road, and the years add up quickly, so getting an early start is not bad.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

I am in my fourth and final year of medical school at Upstate Medical University. I have recently completed my interviews for residency in General Surgery. I chose to join the US Navy in their Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) and will be completed my residency in a Naval hospital after which I will have to fulfill 5-6 years of service with the Navy as a payback. Medicine is all I have ever wanted to do. It is great privilege to participate so intimately in the lives of so many people by being a part of their health care team.