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January 6, 2020

Office of Pre-Professional Advising and Fellowships Puts Students on the Path to Success

Anna Michalik '15

While an undergraduate student at Adelphi, Anna Michalik ’15 was accepted to medical school, but she decided not to go.

“I was not ready to commit to medicine,” she said. “I needed time. I wanted to travel, to read and discuss ideas with brilliant scholars, to learn about humanity, and to grow as a person.”

Seven years and two graduate degrees later, Michalik wanted to try again. But at 26, she wondered if her chance at medical school had passed.

“I was afraid of potential judgment and a lack of understanding. After all, I was accepted once and chose not to attend,” she said.

But she got the support and encouragement she needed from Robert Schwartz, EdD, director of Adelphi’s Office of Pre-Professional Advising and Fellowships. Michalik, who earned a BS in Biology, has been accepted to medical school and plans to start in July 2020.

“Dr. Schwartz was very open-minded. He assured me my dream of becoming a physician was not at all crazy, but very doable,” Michalik said. “At some points, he believed in me more than I believed in myself.”

Planning for a professional future

Dr. Schwartz works with students who hope to go to professional schools to study medicine, dentistry, optometry, physical therapy or law. He helps them learn about the profession, take the right courses, prepare for the entrance exams, and develop interview and writing skills. He also advises them on where to apply and helps them put together applications. He’s part mentor, part counselor, part parent. He works with around 100 students a year.

The path to a professional school often starts the moment students enter college. Dr. Schwartz begins working with them during their first year and continues through graduation.

The Office of Pre-Professional Advising and Fellowships sponsors seminars where professionals come to campus to talk with students about careers in their field. The office can help students interested in medical or dental school spend one day a week at a hospital or a dental practice shadowing a doctor, and it hosts mock law school classes to give students a taste of law school life.

The office has many partners in preparing students for graduate school, including the Learning Center, the political science department, the criminal justice program, and the biology, chemistry and physics departments. It also helps students interested in receiving international fellowships.

A perfect pitch

When application time arrives, the office helps students write personal statements and gather referral letters from faculty.

“Medical schools are looking for well-rounded people,” Dr. Schwartz said. “My job is helping (students) articulate that.”

For example, he suggested a student who had played semipro baseball in Italy include that experience in the statement he wrote for his medical school application.

“It said something about his work ethic and his willingness to go outside his comfort zone,” he said. That student is now a pediatrics resident at Stanford University.

Michalik earned a master’s degree in international education and history at New York University and was finishing a PhD in world history at St. John’s University when she approached Dr. Schwartz to get a letter of recommendation she needed. Dr. Schwartz added a dose of encouragement. When studying for the MCAT while writing a history dissertation and teaching three undergraduate classes overwhelmed her, she would stop by his office to chat.

“A simple conversation with him would always dispel my doubts and motivate me to keep working toward achieving my goals,” Michalik said.

Following her path

Michalik feels a sense of mission for her career.

“For me, medicine is about service. I plan to serve underprivileged communities in the United States and abroad as a doctor,” she said.

Dr. Schwartz said his office is about service, too.

“I want to be helpful to whoever comes in here,” he explained. “I want to guide them to a path that fits their goals and their interests.”


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Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

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