SAGES 2015 Medical Student Scholarship Award Winners

Award-Winning Essays from SAGES 2015 Medical Student Scholarship Program

Congratulations Marc Olivier Duverseau, Collin Howser and Cypriana Koziak, winners of SAGES 2015 Medical Scholarship Award Program!


For the third consecutive year, SAGES Membership Committee successfully administered the Medical Student Scholarship Award program that offers participating medical students attending medical schools in the United States and Canada the chance to meet, network, and attend educational courses alongside experienced surgeons attending SAGES annual meeting.

This year 69 medical students submitted their personal essays in a competition to win three awards that provided complimentary meeting registration, a check in the amount of $2,000, an award certificate, and recognition during the meeting. The essays were outstanding. The Membership Committee is delighted to share the top essays with you.

Essay #1: Third Year Medical Student, Marc Olivier Duverseau, Ross University School of Medicine

Being from Haiti, I have grown up taking nothing for granted in life. I was brought up with the mindset that whatever you want in life, you must ardently persevere to obtain it. In January 2010, a terrible earthquake devastated my home country. The damage was unimaginable and the pain and agony I felt inside were even worse. Although I was attending college in Florida at the time, I went back as soon as possible to assess with my own eyes what had truly happened. Words will never be enough to explain what I saw. Thankfully, my father is an Orthopedic Surgeon, and my mother is an Anesthesiologist, and so I was able to get deeply involved with helping the population in need. The amount of patients and the diversity of their problems were like nothing I had ever seen before. Diagnoses ranged from simple fractures, to mutilated limbs and body parts, to hanging appendages. Such an event can truly scar one for life. By then, my decision to become a surgeon later in life had been made. The friends and tears that I lost created a gap in my soul, a gap that could only be replaced by fulfilling my goal in life. I do believe this purpose is to practice the surgical arts. As I assisted my parents and other surgeons in dealing with the incessant flow of critical patients, I actually felt as if I meant something on this planet. I treasured this feeling, and wanted to turn it into a lifelong opportunity. Although I am currently attending medical school, you may not know that being a foreigner made this road logistically and financially difficult. I’ve made it through so far, however I struggle daily with obstacles. These include immigration issues, finding hospitals that accept foreign students, and fighting the unfortunate stigma associated with being an international medical graduate. Fortunately, I am not the type of person to let such things bring me down; instead I keep aiming higher and higher. Attending the SAGES meeting would really help me find the jumpstart for a potentially beautiful career in surgery. I would be able to meet top-notch surgeons who have gone through the hardships of the profession already, and see how they may help pave the road for me. Although the financial aid would be very helpful, the recognition of my ongoing mission would be even more fantastic. I do think SAGES will help me attain my career goals, and all I ask of you is a chance to prove so.

Essay #2: Second Year Medical Student, Collin Howser, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Throughout my medical education I have been drawn to gastroenterology, a field of medicine that continues to provide innovative approaches to cancer therapy, advancements in minimally invasive surgery, and better outcomes in preventative medicine. These aspects of gastroenterology have given me the opportunity to incorporate my expertise in biomedical engineering to design novel medical devices that I believe will advance the field.

During the summer of 2014, I co-invented (provisional patent application serial number is 62/034,677) an effervescent CO2 insufflation device with the potential to reduce patient cost, alleviate patient discomfort following colonoscopy, and improve the quality of patient care. The device development received funding and is currently in pre-clinical evaluation. In addition, several gastroenterologists have agreed to trial the device upon FDA 510(k) clearance. The device is capable of generating carbon dioxide to serve the needs of an endoscopy suite throughout the course of a normal day by using a tank of citric acid solution and a reaction chamber containing solid sodium bicarbonate. A valve is used to control the flow of acidic solution into the reaction chamber and the resulting carbon dioxide is carried via a flexible tube such that it may be easily integrated into various applications for use over the course of the day. I am more than happy to share with SAGES the complete patent and references if requested to do so.

My experience designing an FDA approved medical device further strengthened my desire to study minimally invasive surgery in gastroenterology. Attending the SAGES meeting and receiving the mentorship of physicians specializing in this discipline would only further reaffirm my interest and future goal of becoming a gastroenterologist. I look forward to continued involvement with SAGES and the opportunity for potential future mentorship.

Essay #3: Third Year Medical Student, Cypriana Koziak, University of Alberta

Applying for the scholarship to marySAGES Conference is an exceptional opportunity for me due to my personal, professional, and research interest in general and laparoscopic surgery. Attending the 2015 SAGES conference would help me attain my career goals by furthering my education in the field of general surgery, making me a more competitive applicant in the field of my choice, as well as guide future projects and understanding of my research in surgical simulation and skill transference.

SAGES. The SAGES Conference would be an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge and learn new skills from individuals with experience in the field of medicine of greatest interest and fascination to me. As I am pursing a medical career in general surgery it would be valuable and exciting to attend a conference of such caliber and international collaboration for the advancement of the surgical profession, and to learn from world-renowned surgeons and leaders of their respective fields.

The conference will also allow me to experience an environment with individuals passionate about their careers and their patients, in addition to a commitment to life-long learning. Being paired with a SAGES Member Mentor would be my chance for advice and inspiration for achieving a successful and meaningful career in general surgery.

Over the past 6 months I have been working on a project in surgical simulation researching eye-hand coordination and the ability to learn pre-tool gaze movement during laparoscopic exercises using the FLS (Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery) model. This project also includes analyzing the transference of learned simulation skills to surgical procedures. I hope that attending the conference will expand my knowledge of the most current laparoscopic techniques and procedures, allowing me to apply new methods and approaches to the learning aspect of laparoscopic skills, and choose simulation skills with the highest yield for surgical procedures. Research on the transference of simulation skills to real life surgical competency could affect surgical residency training, in particular the addition of more rigorous simulation training. I hope, through this research, to make an impact on the training of surgeons and residents, especially in the expanding and innovating field of lapa roscopic surgery.

This conference is a beneficial opportunity for students, residents, and staff at any level of training in their career. Attending at this stage of my medical career is an ideal opportunity to grant me exposure to the vast breadth and innovation of general surgery and the surgical community, especially in light of the mostly missed but essential surgical education in pre-clinical medical curriculum. Additionally, this conference would benefit my research of laparoscopic simulation and surgical skill transference by expanding my knowledge in this field, and allow me to contribute to the surgical community. I hope that my sincere interest and pursuit of a career in general surgery will make me a competitive application for both this application and for residencies. Thank you for your time and consideration.

The application is now closed.
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