Commencement 2019: VP&S Student Stories

Etoro Ekpe, VP&S Class of 2019
Etoro Ekpe, VP&S Class of 2019

Etoro Ekpe seeks to improve maternal medicine care. "Racial disparities in the United States are contributing to the rising maternal mortality rate in America," she says. "With black women disproportionately dying from pregnancy-related complications, I am even more determined to make a difference in the lives of women across the United States. My perspective changes when giving life becomes a battle to save a life: Delivering babies gives me joy, but saving a mother’s life gives me purpose."

Through Columbia's MD-MPH program, Ekpe says she was able to develop "a new and broader perspective of how to holistically care for patients." She'll put what she learned into practice as an obstetrics & gynecology resident at Northwestern University. 

Read more about Ekpe


Naralys Batista, VP&S Class of 2019
Naralys Batista, VP&S Class of 2019

“Medical school was filled with highlights of all kinds,” says Naralys Batista, who grew up in Washington Heights. “There was the time I got a blood draw on the first try, the first time I made the right diagnosis, the first time I saw a patient wake up after a heart transplant.”

Her activities included serving as president of the Black and Latino Student Organization and singing in a jazz band made up of fellow students. After graduation, she will serve her community as an anesthesiology resident at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Read more about Batista


Max McClure and VP&S Dean Lee Goldman, MD, at VP&S Student Research Day
Max McClure and VP&S Dean Lee Goldman, MD, at VP&S Student Research Day

At Columbia, Max McClure found a place where he could explore disease ecology and learn medicine while pursuing an MD-MS in biomedical sciences. He conducted research on ticks and Lyme disease and participated in the Columbia Student Medical Outreach clinic.

“I’m looking forward to returning home to California and putting my medical skills to use for the greater good of my future patients,” says McClure, who will continue his training as an internal medicine resident at Stanford University. “I think health care is a human right and contributing to the provision of that right is an exciting opportunity.” 

Read more about McClure


Sharon Madanes and her daughter, Sage, in her painting studio
Sharon Madanes and her daughter, Sage, in her painting studio

Sharon Madanes is both painter and physician. Her medical training informs her colorful paintings, which often depict limbs and torsos and interpret her experiences in anatomy lab, on clinical rotations, and more.

"Ultimately I realized that so much of what drives me, and what brought me to medical school in the first place, is thinking about patient stories, about the psychology of experiences, about the way the brain works and mental health," says Madanes, who will go on to a residency in psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine. "I wanted to spend time talking to patients ... I think in psychiatry there is this chance to really have a deep connection with somebody else and think through problems with another person in a rewarding way that does justice to artistic thought."

Read more about Madanes.