HM alumni admitted to exclusive Mount Sinai program

Oliver Steinman and Steven Borodkin

Out of 1000 applicants Eden David ‘16, Lily McCarthy ‘16, and Justin Tang ’16 were among the 40 recently accepted to the Donald and Vera Blinken FlexMed Program at Mount Sinai Hospital.

The FlexMed program allows college sophomores to apply for early acceptance to The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. It is the first school in the country to create a progressive and rigorous admissions path for students who seek early assurance of admission. Students in the program are not required to take the MCAT and have fewer pre-med requirements compared to other students who apply to medical schools.

Tang, a bioengineer major at Rice University, found out about FlexMed through a friend who had been accepted the previous year. He was attracted to the program because it would allow him to pursue his interests in bioengineering research and he would not have to worry about the MCAT and other typical pre-med requirements.

“The virtue of the program is that you can pursue your interests without the constraints and time consuming portions of the regular pre-med program,” Tang said.

David, who currently studies neuroscience and behavior at Columbia, applied to the program because she knew that she wanted to be a physician from a very young age.

“I felt as though I needed the flexibility and time to spend my remaining undergraduate years exploring the gender, cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic factors that influence different communities’ emotional and physical responses to disease,” David said.

As an Italian Renaissance major at Yale, McCarthy was drawn to the idea that she could pursue her dream of becoming a doctor while continuing with her interests in the humanities.

“I think that Mount Sinai designed the program with the goal of innovating medical education and cultivating position to our more humanistic side which ultimately benefits the patients,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy believes that the school cultivated her interests by allowing her to focus on both STEM fields and the liberal arts. During her years at the school, McCarthy was able to pursue her interest in Italian Renaissance through the Independent Studies program where she studied anatomical drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. On the STEM side, her interest was sparked by a biology class taught by science teacher Dr. Matthew Wallenfang in her freshman year.

“Science at Horace Mann is so hands on and dynamic that it is impossible to not love science,” McCarthy said.

Similarly, David thinks that the school is a place where one can truly succeed in both STEM fields and the liberal arts. “I learned at Horace Mann that the skills necessary to close read a text in AP English, for example, are the very skills necessary to parse through a scientific paper,” David said.

Tang also believes that the school is a place where one can excel in both the liberal arts and STEM.  Not only do students develop their abilities in STEM subjects, but they also learn other important skills like how to write a paper, Tang said.

David believes that her acceptance into FlexMed shows how the academically rigorous environment of the school pushes its students to exercise their sense of curiosity. Similarly, McCarthy’s acceptance further proves the school’s academic reputation and culture, demonstrating that students are both adventurous and multifaceted learners, she said.

“I think HM does a great job of pushing that interest in sciences while still fostering things outside of the STEM field while making sure we leave high school with a really solid foundation,” Tang said.

All three alumni emphasized the impact their high school teachers had on their lives. “I remember early morning meetings with my advisor,  Dr. Palfrey, who would patiently listen to my concerns and provide me with great advice,” said David.

“David was always enthusiastic about everything she did; she was a hard worker but really enjoyed everything she did,” science teacher Dr. Stephen Palfrey said.

David also said that her math teacher Mr. Jones did a great job of helping her while she was struggling in Pre-Calculus BC Honors in her junior year.

“She is intensely, naturally curious and she combines this curiosity with the ability and drive to explore on her own. The independence that she developed on my watch was amazing. I knew, by the end of that year, that Eden could do whatever she wanted to,” Jones said.

For McCarthy, Head of Upper Division Dr. Jessica Levenstein played a significant role in her time at the school. She spent a lot of time with Levenstein outside of class, who introduced her to the idea that art and science are not mutually exclusive.

“Lily embodied the life of the mind at HM. She excelled in all her classes because she constantly observed the connections between the different fields she was studying,” Levenstein said.