Veterans Day 2017: Q&A with Medical Students Who Have Served

November 10, 2017 by Jennifer Nachbur

The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont is honored to have several veterans among its medical student population. We are grateful for their service to our country, as well as their commitment to serve their patients. Recently, the medical communications staff had an opportunity to conduct short interviews with two medical student veterans in honor of Veterans Day.
The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont is honored to have several veterans among its medical student population. We are grateful for their service to our country, as well as their commitment to serve their patients. Recently, the medical communications staff had an opportunity to conduct short interviews with two medical student veterans in honor of Veterans Day.

Michael Marallo ’19 joined the Marine Corps after he graduated from Rutland High School in 2005 and was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Most of his service involved training or deployment in the Middle East. 

LCoM: What attracted you to medicine?
 
MM: “I have always wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but my perspective changed due to spending much of my life as a surgical patient,” says Marallo, who was injured by a roadside bomb while serving. “It changes the way I treat patients as I continue to gain experience from both sides of the equation, and it will play a large role in how I conduct myself as a physician.”

LCoM: What does Veterans Day represent for you?

MM: “Veterans day is about celebration and respect for one another,” Marallo says. “Our country is in a divisive time. This should be a holiday used to unite via our commonalities and to raise awareness and support the vets that need our help.” 

Richard Mendez ’18 served in the Army from 2005 to 2009, which included five deployments to the Middle East. He graduated from high school in Orlando, Florida in 2002, right after September 11 had occurred. While he initially attended the College of Central Florida, he was not a successful student. After two years, he decided to join the Army, a decision sparked by witnessing his older brother’s positive experiences with the military, including at West Point. 

LCoM: What kind of experiences did the military provide you?

RM: “My service gave me direction and purpose in life and it was something I loved to do,” says Mendez, who added that he gained a broad range of experiences and great friendships while serving. After he completed his last deployment, he returned to college with several fellow service members and finished his degree.

LCoM: Was a career in medicine on your radar before or during your military service?

RM:
“I’d never had an interest in medicine, but after I saw friends injured at war and requiring aid, and received some medical training from the military, I was influenced to pursue medicine,” he says. 

LCoM: What does Veterans Day mean to you?

RM:
“Veterans Day reminds me of those [military] experiences in life, the friends I made, that purpose that I found, which I continue with in medicine: the purpose of service to others,” Mendez says.

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