Student Spotlight: Russell Levi C’21

Russell Levi C’21                               

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Brooklyn, NY. Raised in Staten Island, NY

What attracted you to Drew?

One of the first things that attracted me to Drew was seeing and feeling the campus atmosphere. During the initial college tours, I really liked the idea of small class sizes, and how I would be able to make meaningful connections with both my professors and other students. Also, knowing that I would be pursuing some form of science, the large amounts of different science and research departments really pulled me towards choosing Drew.

Why did you choose neuroscience as a major and biology as a minor?

I have always loved learning about all different concepts in biology, but if I had to pick one of my favorite concepts, it would have to be the nervous system. The intricacies and interactions stemming from the molecular basis to the systemic to the cognitive basis and how they are intertwined has always fascinated me. Taking the upper level neuroscience courses offered at Drew introduced me to a new depth of the field which I would have never seen otherwise, and has pulled me towards learning more and more about it. The amount of different routes neuroscience can take within the field as a whole, as well as within the major at is one of the main things that drove me towards choosing it as a major.

Did you have an idea of a dream job when you started at Drew?

I knew I wanted to go into medicine when I first started at Drew. Seeing how physicians work and serve to treat their patients in the various shadowing experiences and clinical internships I’ve participated in has solidified my drive to pursue medicine. Another driving force has been my family members who were physicians in Ukraine in the 1970s and 1980s. Hearing about how they loved medicine and worked each day to help their patients was inspiring and allowed me to see another angle of what medicine was about.

Have you done any internships?

During my sophomore year, I participated in the EMT Cadet Program with Madison Volunteer Ambulance Corp. Unfortunately, it was cut short right after the initial quarantine period last March, but it was a wonderful learning experience and I highly recommend it to anyone looking towards a career in medicine if the program is started up again.

Prior to the pandemic, I was a clinical research assistant in the Emergency Medicine Department at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Here, I participated in a couple of research projects helping with patient consenting, data collection and data entry. The projects revolved around pain medication, patient comfortability, and length of stay in the emergency department and I was able to learn an immense amount about the entire hospital research process.

Currently, I am shadowing physicians in the Medical Health Center of Middletown in order to observe the day-to-day schedule, as well as learn more about the doctor-patient interaction. Also, I am beginning to volunteer at a local fire company, The Old Village Fire Company in Middletown, NJ as a volunteer firefighter. I loved the experience I had during the MVAC cadet program, and am looking forward to continuing volunteering as a first responder.

Do you have any mentors at Drew?

During my freshman year, my advisor Chemistry professor, Dr. Adam Cassano, guided me through the daunting environment of the first year in college when I didn’t know much about it. Once I declared my major, Professor of Neuroscience and Biology, Dr. Roger Knowles, took over as my advisor and helped guide me from that point to now. Without his guidance and belief in me, I would not have been able to graduate a year early. My research advisor, Dr. Jonathan Crowther, has also guided me through the process of participating in lab research and has taught me a great amount about the intricacies of his research in the past year.

What issue in the world means the most to you?

One issue that I have thought about recently is the growing shortage of physicians. The American Association of Medical Colleges projects a massive shortage of physicians within the next 10 years. This is a growing issue as physicians are becoming overwhelmed with the sheer amount of COVID-19 cases, but also various other health complications which can potentially arise within a year, five years or even ten years. Without training more physicians, the issue will continue to spiral out of control which can have drastic consequences for future healthcare.

What are a few of your favorite memories of Drew? 

Most of my favorite memories at Drew involve my suitemates. Whether we’re playing videogames in our suite, or just hanging out, the memories I have made with them are some of the best.

What advice would you give students who are just starting out that you wish you had when you started?

To anyone starting out either a pre-med track, or college in general, I would tell them to try out a lot of different things, but start them early, and stay consistent with the things they do decide to do.

What are your career goals? Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

I am currently studying for the MCAT and hoping to apply to medical schools in May. In 5 years, I hope to graduate from medical school and start the journey of residency. From my past shadowing and volunteer experiences, I really like either emergency medicine or anesthesiology; however, there is still a long way before that decision has to be made.

Are there any fun fact (s) you would like to share?

  • Up until senior year of high school, I had competed in Latin and Standard Ballroom dance for about 8 years.
  • I can speak Russian.
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