Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Gary Volkell

volkellName: Gary Volkell

Occupation: Medical Student at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine

Education (UR and additional): B.A. (’11) from the University of Rochester and NYITCOM

Current city/state/country of residence: Merrick, NY USA

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I fell in love with the campus the first time I visited.  I was won over by the tour guide and the school’s friendly atmosphere.  However, the two things that I loved the most were the fact that the mascot was a yellow jacket (a nuisance to most people) and the school flower was the dandelion, a weed.  This little bit of humor made Rochester stand out.

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

I was originally a Physics major but switched from that to Computer Science then finally BCS.  I sat in on my first BCS class hoping I would enjoy it more than the previous majors I had tried.  I immediately became absorbed in the material after just a few minutes and I never looked back.  It was the perfect fit for me.

What resources did you use on campus that you would recommend current students use?

In addition to the professors, Melinda Adelman, the BCS Undergraduate Coordinator, was one of the most helpful people I encountered at U of R.   I would have been an absolute mess had she not been able to guide me through the process of being a BCS student.

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

I had Eboard positions in both the UR Cinema Group and Creative Arts Club.  They served as a means to keep me in touch with my passions and be involved with U of R in a meaningful way.  Additionally, they served to make me a better leader.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus?  Have you continued those relationships?

I viewed many of my professors as mentors during my time at U of R.  Chief among these is Daphne Bavelier, who served as a teacher as well as a PI in her lab.  I learned more about the field of BCS than I ever could have hoped by doing research with her. We still keep in touch.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am currently a medical student.  At the end of my freshman year I became very ill but my doctor was able to bring me back to good health.  During my sophomore year I realized that I wanted to help people feel better, the way my doctor had helped me.  BCS was a great starting point for getting into the field of medicine because it fulfilled most of the premed requirements and offered tremendous insight into the brain.