I recently had the chance to speak with Sylvie Stacy (Class of 07), Olin's first MD. As one of our pioneer Olin alumnae (2nd class to graduate from the college!), Sylvie has chosen a rather unorthodox path in achieving her childhood goal of becoming a doctor. For starters, she went to Olin, a brand new engineering school. Since then she has gone on to study at the University of Massachusetts and has completed most of her clinical internship year in upstate New York. Starting this June, Sylvie plans to enter a preventive medicine residency, which will focus on population-based health care through environmental and policy change. A rather unusual path for an MD, to be sure!
Sylvie's unique career path has led to some different choices, but she has enjoyed every step of the journey. She knew she wanted to work in the medical field, but didn't wish to go straight into college in a pre-med or biology program. Excited by the prospect of a brand new and progressive engineering school, Sylvie decided on Olin and pursued an engineering undergraduate degree, with a bioengineering concentration.
Sylvie says that attending Olin has greatly influenced what she is doing now and what she plans to do in the future. At the time, she had to work hard to be sure she was meeting all of her biology requirements, which included cross-registration at Wellesley and Brandeis. During her senior year, Sylvie participated on the Boston Scientific SCOPE medical design project team. Seeing how much work goes into the design and development of medical tools, Sylvie realized that there must be a need for a person to act as the "middleman" between those who use the product and those who develop it. Olin opened her eyes to a role that was tangentially involved in both medicine and engineering. Sylvie continued to flesh out this role through her time at Olin and during her medical school training.
Starting in June, Sylvie will begin her preventive medicine residency program. She hopes to work with food and drug administrators as a medical officer to learn how things are regulated. She will learn about population-based health care which, while largely a non-medical field, involves interactions with medical directors and other medical professionals to improve the overall health of individuals as well as greater populations. Sylvie's goal is to discover and analyze how medical products get onto the market, and ultimately to work for a medical or biotech company in the development of medical products.
While it wasn't always the easiest path, Sylvie is glad to have started her education at Olin. When she discovered along the way that perhaps working directly with patients was not for her, she utilized the initiative and exploratory tools she learned at Olin to find the niche where she best fit. Faculty and classmates supported her all the way, helping her keep her eyes open to new ideas, opportunities, and options.
What would Sylvie advise an Olin student today? "If you come across someone you find yourself admiring or like their job, talk to them! Seek their advice, stay in touch and use them as a sort of mentor - someone to turn to when you need a fresh perspective. You'll be glad you did, a good mentoring relationship can pay off in spades!"