Janice Ascencio

Janice K. (Pyke) Ascencio, M.D., B.S.’94

“A Part of People’s Lives”

By Carol Olechowski

Ask Janice Krystal (Pyke) Ascencio what she most enjoys about her work, and she instantly responds, “Being a part of other people’s lives.”

Attracted to the medical profession by the prospect of being involved with people “at the highest and lowest points of their lives,” Ascencio – an obstetrician and gynecologist – sees patients at the four offices of Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania and performs surgery at the system’s medical center. She increasingly incorporates minimally invasive surgery (MIS) into her practice to “allow patients to heal and resume their normal activities more quickly.”

At the University at Albany, Ascencio was a pre-med student majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. “I wanted to go to the University of Pennsylvania, but I was 16 and my mother didn’t want me to go so far away,” recalls the Jamaica native, whose family settled in Queens, N.Y., after immigrating to the United States. When her sister, Holly Pyke-Brown, B.S.’91, urged her to enroll at Albany, Ascencio did, and “it worked out very well for me. Everyone there was very helpful. There was a center where we used to go for tutoring; I immediately signed up for a tutor in every class! It gave me kind of a security blanket; I was able to meet people. I met my husband, Alfredo Ascencio [B.S.’94, business administration], there.”

Although Ascencio was “very focused on my schoolwork,” her mentor and adviser, Professor Daniel Wulff, “wanted me to be a little more socialized. He felt I worked too hard. He wanted me to have a well-rounded experience; he got me listening to opera, and he helped me to do the applications for Phi Beta Kappa and Purple and Gold. He was an inspiration.”

Ascencio, who went on to graduate from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, is “very grateful to have been a student at Albany. The curriculum was very competitive, and I was well prepared for a dynamic career.”