Nicholas Santos-Powell thrived in high school, loving science and math and was always fascinated by the intricacies of the human body. When it was time to look at colleges, he found himself drawn to Mount Ida and intrigued by the combination of a program in forensic science and time on the lacrosse field.
Within weeks of leaving Fairfax, Virginia to come to campus, intense discussions with the faculty of the Mount Ida School of Applied Sciences told him that his future lies in medicine and he transferred to the pre-medical program with his eyes set on becoming a surgeon or a physician researcher studying infectious disease.
“My passion for science and wanting to work on hands on projects is why I chose to pursue a career in medicine. Since an early age, I have been mesmerized by the workings of life. The human body is a remarkable mechanism with numerous amounts of diverse systems producing an organism that could almost never be artificially reproduced,” Nicholas says.
“I grew up with a single mom who raised four boys and who is my role model. I have become strong-minded and determined to go for what I want in life,” says Nicholas. And it is that determination that has led him, as a freshman to being elected president of the Pre-Med Organization on campus and to secure a summer internship at Yale University.
“The small size of Mount Ida has allowed me to interact on a one-to-one basis with the amazing faculty. They have seen my potential and have gone way beyond the classroom to help me realize my dream.”
At Yale, Nicholas was chosen from a vast amount of applicants across the county of which only 80 were selected, to participate in a 6-week program this summer where he will work side-by-side with doctors and faculty learning about the medical profession and what it holds. In addition there will be workshops in science and communication as well as sessions with admissions counselors on what it takes to apply – and get into – medical school. In addition, the program allows for the opportunity to network and is designed to help position him as an excellent candidate with all the requisites to be admitted to medical school when he applies to Harvard Medical School and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Nicholas is also keen on giving back to the community. He will be volunteering as an ambassador this summer at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Boston, both helping patients and working in the pathology lab.
In the future, Nicholas would like to learn more about microorganisms and gain experience in research on antimicrobials. “I’m concerned about the over-use of antibiotics. It has been determined to be the wonder drug. It is used on a daily basis to treat an overabundance of infections.”
This matter is scary and exciting to Nicholas because “microorganisms that cause disease are getting more immune to modern medicine and we have to find new ways to balance the use of antibiotics.” We could use, he says, “more of the newly discovered micro-flora associated with larger organisms to fight infections. A great deal of research would have to be done in order to get to this point. The possibility of being part of the research that may solve this problem is very exciting to me.”
Nicholas knows the road ahead will not be easy, but he is ready. “I enjoy a challenge that leads to a rewarding objective. Although medicine is a tough career, it is also extremely rewarding. The doctors I have conversed with during my volunteer experiences at health facilities as well as in my personal life have all reinforced this. I have always imagined working closely with people in a professional and stimulating environment, and in my opinion, a career in medicine is one of the best ways to achieve this because it blends the critical thinking of a scientist with compassion. My ultimate career goal is to do just this.”
And you can be sure, whether the road leads to a career as a researcher in the world of antibiotics and microorganisms or as a neurosurgeon, Nicholas will succeed.