SUNY Downstate Student Profile: Eileen Harrigan, COM 2018
Where did you do your undergraduate education and what did you study? I went to Wesleyan University, and I studied Biology and Neuroscience & Behavior.
Who is/was your favorite professor at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and why? I’ve enjoyed learning from lots of professors at Downstate, but I have to say that the person who has influenced me most is Dr. Yaacov Anziska, an alumnus of Downstate. I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Anziska during the Neurology clerkship and I was so impressed by the way he educates and advocates for his patients. He is one of the most knowledgeable educators I have come across during my time on campus, and he is constantly seeking educational opportunities for his students. His level of clinical expertise is something I really aspire to.
What is your favorite memory so far of your time studying at Downstate? I think my favorite memory at Downstate has to be when a few classmates and I organized an event to raise awareness of racism and discrimination in medicine. We set out to join students together in a conversation on social responsibility in medicine, and we were unsure of what to expect in response to our campus-wide invitation. We planned for days and days. We organized for days and days. When the time of our event finally arrived, I was so thrilled to see dozens of students, faculty and staff members in attendance to join us. Some students shared their experiences with racism, while several faculty members offered their support and solidarity. It was incredible to witness such deliberate mutual support on our campus, and I am so grateful for that experience. It makes me so proud to know that I am part of a community that is both diverse and passionately dedicated to equality and justice.
What is/will be your specialty? I expect to pursue a career in Neurology.
How has the Alumni Association for the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate helped you (scholarships, clubs, events, white-coat ceremony, senior week, research, summer research, technology, healthcare in developing countries elective or other)? The Alumni Association supports groups like the Brooklyn Free Clinic, which is a student-run clinic at Downstate. With the support of the Alumni Association and others, we offer free and very-low-cost healthcare to our uninsured neighbors in Brooklyn. This clinic serves as a major milestone in our careers. It is often the site of our first doctor-patient relationships, where we can explore both the compassionate and practical sides of the healthcare system. The BFC also provides an environment where we can find mentorship from volunteer attending physicians and build our clinical skills.
Is there anything else that you think Alumni would like to know about you? I grew up as the youngest of four in a small town on Long Island called Manorville. My dad worked as a plumber and my mom became a policewoman when I was in middle school. I moved to Brooklyn after graduating from Wesleyan and began working in the lab of Eric Nestler at Mount Sinai. There, I studied the neural mechanisms of substance abuse and mood disorders. I became determined to attend Downstate after meeting several Downstate-educated physicians and taking an interest in the public healthcare system. Since my time at Downstate, I’ve been involved in the Student Ethics Society, the Brooklyn Free Clinic, Flu Shot club, and a new student organization called Downstate Dialogues, which a few classmates and I recently created. Through this group, we host conversations and events on campus focused on issues of race, gender, and identity in the medical field. My long-term goal is to use my experiences from Downstate to work towards creating a more equitable healthcare system.
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