Emilia Raszkiewicz (4th Quarter, 2006)

4th Quarter, 2006
Medical Professions Scholarship Winner
Emilia Raszkiewicz

“I am a first generation college student and only child of my family in the U.S., my parents are Polish immigrants and my upbringing has led me to develop the fascinating, often challenging dual perspective resulting from my American and Polish cultural traditions. From a young age, I knew that my future career would have to thrill and challenge me. I knew it would have to emotionally reward me. I was always far ahead of my parents’ plea for practicality, and it was tough – I knew I wouldn’t rest until I made the right decision for myself.”

A Portion of Emilia’s Winning Essay:

Emilia Raszkiewicz

My fascination with science, research, and the wonders of medicine first engraved itself distinctly in my memories of childhood. I recall that at the same time I began to speak fluent English during the first years of elementary school, I also mastered a sharp knowledge of the contents of my mother’s medicine cabinet and many Polish medicinal herbs. I remember myself reciting the titles of these naturopathic remedies for common ailments to my puzzled second grade classmates. I also poured over their Latin names in the encyclopedia, giving myself a premature education in taxonomy.

Science always had the best of me – the gift I most anticipated as a little girl was the beginner’s microscope and slide set that I acquired on my eighth birthday. I always wanted to know why oil and water did not interact fondly and how emotion such as sadness provoked a flushed face and tears. It only seemed like the natural progression of life when I decided to officially pursue in education my passion for the workings of science, medicine and healing.

My curiosity for answering the questions arising around the complex machinery of the earth and the human body has not wavered; neither has my interest for spreading proper instructions for care and healing in the everyday vernacular to every person, regardless of race, status, or creed.

During my high school career I had the opportunity to partake in an organic chemistry class at the very unique Bridgeport Aquaculture School research laboratory where I synthesized acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) from scratch. With the classic laboratory composition notebook in hand, I whet my appetite for professional science: my fascination with the proceedings of research was stronger than ever.

As I learned to work with laboratory instrumental analysis methods including gas chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography, digital UV/Visible spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and atomic absorption spectroscopy, I felt a special feeling dawn on me: I could navigate the science laboratory as would an artist the color palette, or the skillful dramatist the written word by delivering my discoveries and conclusions to the populace. I saw that ultimately, this art of science would help me provide answers to motives I have connected with intensely: the questions I asked about the environment during childhood, cancer therapy, drug and chemical safety, and the delivery of revelations appropriate in their benefit to the research world, and the patient for whom this work would bear significance for their health, quality of life, and alleviation of their pain.

I feel tingles of pride and excitement when my friends ask me about science and medical concerns. I am contented by the expanse of knowledge involving the complex engineering of nature that has given rise to the amazing compositions of absolute precision that is life. At present, my interests in the medical sciences center on primary care, microbiology and eventually working on personal pursuits to increase the quality of simple, reliable medical literature available to the general public and to new immigrants. Proper information is key to prevention.

I would enjoy being a physician’s assistant or medical doctor with additional specialties in research and publication — a niche that I embrace deeply. During my first year of undergraduate study, I was deeply affected by a cancer tragedy, and my passion for knowledge about cancer therapies was heightened. Consequently, my vision in this field of biological study solidified.

My lifelong interest in medicinal herbs also has the structure of a professional goal. As an extra ambition, I would like to help bridge the United States health industry with the prospering European market of effective, regulated herbal pharmaceuticals. I am committed to bringing science and compassion together, and in the future, I would enjoy pursuing professional pedagogy in medicine.

My background of cultural life experiences and appreciation for courses of the humanities and science have served as an appropriate bolster for approaching the daily life with an open mind and particular sensitivity to cultural awareness. Just recently, a medical professional I spoke with regarded my interest in languages as me wanting to be a “doctor to the poor people.” I love the art of languages in their own regard because they come easily to me. But, in contemplating the motive of that trite statement, I surely wanted to know the differences felt in the soul of a “wealthy” person as opposed to a “poor” person as they experience or witness childbirth; the differences between their reaction to a cancer diagnosis, their knowledge of a terminal illness, and the differences between their suffering. I felt my throat tighten at this individual’s statement, and my arms became tense, but I did not flinch or utter a word.

My mother had to leave nursing school in Poland as she fled to come to the United States for freedom during a time of Communist oppression. My grandmother left medical school in Poland after the Second World War to take care of her devastated family and siblings whose home was claimed by the Communist regime. By the means of the individual who made the statement, they were poor, too. They did not speak English back then, health insurance was unheard of, and they had their lives interrupted. But they were rich with compassion. They were both intelligent, confident young women at a time when many women were not allowed or did not even consider attending higher education. I would like to finish what they were forced to leave behind.

I believe there is a common language upon which medicine rests, that of most efficiently applying science, compassion, and a special tolerance towards physical strife, people’s differences, emotional agony, and the joy of recovery. Every person is a unique being, and the language of caring is understood by any human regardless of economic or background status. As an aspiring student of the biological and medicinal sciences, I feel that being in tune with a person’s social-cultural attitude and breaking language barriers is a manner by which trust is affirmed. Pain does not discriminate, and the most trustworthy healers of past and present do not either.

After working and volunteering at several healthcare facilities and much time spent in the laboratory, I feel that my pursuit of medicine is like a cause that I work for. I do not have a podium and microphone and a raised fist, just yet, but I feel like it is my mission to aid and educate. Science, empathy, fighting for people – these are not things that someone wrote in my 9th grade notebook and told me to feel and/or perform.

This decision rests on a lifetime of observances, personal experiences, education, and intense motivation. This decision is the person I am becoming by daily inspirations. There is so much scientific medical progress in many nations, and much of it goes unnoticed by the general public. I intend to never let the stacks of printed paper bureaucracy sway my personal goals.

I hope I am able to meet as many of my professional medical goals as I am capable of in the near future, and I plan to continue to be inspired as I have been since childhood. There is a certain beauty of how the strength of human resilience often dances with physical frailty, and there is something especially gratifying when a medical healer can do the best he or she can to make the two become equally talented partners.

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