At UAlbany, Cynthia Bernal ’05 found the opportunities and guidance she needed to advance a career in medicine.
ALBANY, N.Y. (October 23, 2013) — Cynthia Bernal ’05 chose the University at Albany because she wanted to attend a school that was a “comfortable” distance from her New York City home. “Not too far,” she said, “but enough so I had the freedom to stretch my wings.” She found even greater comfort and confidence in the academic courses and guidance offered by UAlbany. They led her to new challenges and key decisions that fulfilled her dream of becoming a doctor.
Today, Bernal is the chief resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) at Rochester General Hospital, attending patients “who are going through one of life’s most amazing, intimate moments — having a baby.”
Her nascent goal of a medical career took true shape in college. “My UAlbany education was great preparation for medical school,” she said. “I took biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry — all the courses you need to lay the foundation to take the next step forward.”
She also became a Ronald McNair scholar, a federal program aimed at preparing undergraduates who are either members of underrepresented groups or in financial need for doctoral studies. The scholarship led to participation in a research project at Albany Medical College that enabled her to closely observe one of the school’s physician researchers, Dr. Andres Melendez.
“UAlbany was constantly giving me access to people, places, and opportunities,” said Bernal. “While at UAlbany, I participated in a Dartmouth College program: the International Summer School on Biocomplexity from Gene to System. I conducted research at Albany Med on oxidant-dependent regulation of gene expression. That would not have happened without UAlbany.”
She called Monica Hope, her counselor in the Educational Opportunity Program, “a crucial supportive figure during my years at UAlbany. She knew my goals and what I was interested in and made sure I knew which opportunities were available. It was Monica that made the Ronald McNair research opportunity available to me and helped me with the application process.”
Bernal became interested in obstetrics and gynecology in her third year at Ross University School of Medicine, from which she received her Doctor of Medicine in 2009. “I found women's health to be extremely fascinating,” she said. “Bringing someone's baby into this world is an experience that words cannot match, but the surgical aspect of gynecology sparked my interest and curiosity as well. Minimally invasive surgery and robotics is a passion I look forward to enhancing after my residency.”
Bernal “stretched her wings” at UAlbany well beyond academics. She swam, played basketball and winter sports, was in the Biology Club, the Charles Drew Science Club, and participated in the National Youth Leadership Forum.
“I am very grateful and happy that I went to a SUNY school — that I was able to afford it and be where I am now,” she said. “I made the most of my time at UAlbany, and it paid off personally and professionally.”
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