By Cady Kuzmich
Clifton Park — Kaitlin Davis, 17, was recently selected as Shenendehowa’s ShenNext Medicine Scholar.
Davis, a Clifton Park native, will be a senior at Shenendehowa this fall. The ShenNext: Selecting Tomorrow’s Doctors Today program offers Shenendehowa students the opportunity to be accepted to Siena and Albany Medical College’s programs a year earlier than usual. The program is made possible by the collaboration of Siena College, Albany Medical College and Shenendehowa.
Math and science came naturally to Davis from the very beginning. “As I grew older, I realized that I wanted a career where I could interact with people and solve problems. Medicine was always in the back of my mind, especially seeing family members with different medical issues,” said Davis.
Davis recalled how an experience volunteering with CAPTAIN strengthened her resolve to go into medicine. “A girl told a story about how she received cochlear implants and they changed her whole life. I just got a feeling in my stomach that I was meant to do, to be a doctor and impact people’s lives,” said Davis.
Along with her work with Captain Youth and Family Services, Davis is part of the Mu Alpha Theta Math National Honor Society and the Class Council at Shen. She plays varsity soccer and lacrosse as well.
While she still isn’t sure what she would like to specialize in, Davis is interested in neurology and pediatrics. “I work at a summer camp and I really like interacting with children, so possibly something pediatric. I also am interested in the neurological side of medicine and behavioral disorders and similar things. So maybe something that would combine the two, but I really want to learn more about all the different areas of medicine,” she said.
One of Davis’s major strengths, her perfectionism, is also one of her biggest challenges. “I think a lot of the time my biggest challenge is myself,” she said. “I am really stubborn and like to succeed at everything I do. I am the type of person to [get] really upset if I get one point off on a test. I have to always remind myself that some things really are not worth stressing over and that most of my stress is unnecessary. My perfectionism is definitely helpful, but sometimes it gets in the way,” Davis added.
Davis’s biology teacher, Sarah Halbig, has inspired and encouraged her to continue pursuing a career in medicine. “She was a teacher I connected with and still talk to often. I see myself in her and she has become a role model to me. She began college with plans to go pre-med, but later switched to education, so I have been able to talk to her about my goals. She has been a great resource for me and someone I can always go to for support. I really aspire to be like her,” said Davis.
The program “offers acceptance to both college and medical school at the same time and includes a scholarship at Siena of about $18,000 for four years,” according to a press release. A panel of Siena students enrolled in the Siena-Albany Medical College program play a role in selecting the ShenNext Medicine Scholar each year. Davis was chosen out of a pool of 81 candidates at Shenendehowa. Candidates were chosen based on class rank, GPA, course load, honors, AP level classes, character and interest in medicine.
Davis and three other finalists took part in a mentor program at Siena College last year. The three ShenNext finalists were Peter Kirkpatrick of Rexford, Ava Conklin of Clifton Park and Aneesha Achar of Clifton Park. All three were in the top 10 percent of their class.