I am originally from Jersey. I grew up in the same house for the first 18 years of my life. From a small town in rural NJ (it does exist), I was eager for the big city, so I chose Boston for college. I was an English major — as you can imagine, I went back to school after graduating. I showed up in New Orleans, LA, to start an MPH at Tulane with impeccable timing; one week before Hurricane Katrina. So I learned public health first hand while on the ground in New Orleans. From public health I continued on at Tulane to get a degree in medicine. I found myself drawn to the marginalized: the poor, the sick, and the social outcast. So naturally, I am following a career path to infectious diseases.
Why did you decide to become a doctor?
Medicine was a perfect fit for me: it combines social justice with public health and the possibility of curing the individual as well as healing a society. I didn’t have one of those “eureka” moments where suddenly I just knew. I’ve wanted to be a doctor as long as I can remember.
What do you like about the Charlottesville area?
Coming from New Orleans, I have a pretty rigorous hobby — eating. I was surprised and thrilled to find such a unique restaurant scene to explore in such a small town. I live right on the Downtown Mall (to facilitate my access) and there is an array of options depending on one’s mood. Current favorites: Mas, Brookville, C&O and Zinc (to name a few). I’m working on getting into hiking (to facilitate the hobby above) and am accepting trail recommendations.
What opportunities do you have at UVa that made you choose us?
As I was saying above, I’m interested in infectious diseases. I was surprised to find such a strong ID program here at UVA, thinking that one needs to be urban in order to study infectious diseases. But it’s really been great, there’s ID EVERYWHERE. Not only have I had the benefit of being on the outpatient world in HIV clinic, but ID attendings are frequently on General Medicine and the consult service reaches into all parts of the hospital.
Proudest/greatest achievement outside the professional realm?
February 7, 2010: the Saints winning the Super Bowl. Yes, I take credit for part of that! I wore the exact same outfit every game that they won. I went to the same bar to watch. We each had specific cheers for each of our players (shout out to Marques Colston, you are SO TALL). I even had to salt/pepper one of my best friends in order to break her bad luck influence. It was the combined belief of the Saints Nation that carried them to victory against a nearly insurmountable Peyton Manning, et al. Yes. One of my greatest achievements. WHO DAT!!
What are you usually doing on the weekend or during your time off?
I’m most likely to be found at the downtown farmer’s market. It basically occurs in my backyard, so it’s hard NOT to go. I frequent the kale distributors with some regularity. This is new, I’d never really had kale before moving here. See me for recipes.
How did you meet your significant other?
Nick and I met in med school. It was somewhat unfortunate timing given we started dating in our 3rd year. We’d only been seeing each other about 6 months when he asked me to couples’ match with him. I took a leap. Best decision!
Favorite vacation or recreational activity spot?
Ireland. It’s not that I get there often, maybe once a decade, but I think I’d live there given the opportunity. You just can’t beat the kindness of the Irish people, the stoutness of their Guinness, or the drama of the Irish coastline.
Most admired person, and why?
I’ve been blessed with a list of mentors that won’t fit in this article; and as much as I attribute my trajectory into medicine and infectious disease to them, none compare to influence of my dad. He was the first to go to college in his family and never underestimated the value of education. Medicine wasn’t his first choice in career paths for me, but that didn’t stop him from supporting me all the way through. There is no way I’d be here without him.
Best advice anyone ever gave you?
Not advice, but my grandmother was one for saying “this too shall pass”. I thought about having it tattooed on my arm during intern year. It really got me through the sticky parts.
What about you would surprise us?
I’m not sure I should share this as it’s my go-to “fun fact” for all ice breakers, but here goes: I was baptized in beer. My mom is Catholic, and she had a friend who was concerned that my parents were taking too long in getting me baptized (I think I was 7 months old). In extreme cases, a member of the church can sanctify almost any liquid. So my parents’ good friend sanctified the beer. Thus I came into the church. Methodist baptism followed, in a church, in the following month.