Laura Navarro '01, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine
“My New College studies prepared me for a profession in which teamwork and critical thinking
are of the essence.”
A national Hispanic Scholar from Barranquilla, Colombia, Laura Navarro graduated in 2005 with a degree in economics/biology. She went on to the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine (CCLCM) of Case Western Reserve University on a full tuition scholarship. Navarro plans to practice Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and conduct translational research in the same field.
When (and why) did you decide to become a doctor?
In high school I always cited calculus and biology as my favorite subjects. When it became clear that I was to travel to the U.S. for college, I decided to focus on Economics as a major and to learn a third language (French). However, during one of my trips back home for a summer break, I spent much of my time at the hospital visiting my ill grandfather. As I walked the hallways of the emergency room and inpatient floors, I was drawn to patients and their stories. That experience reminded me how intriguing I had always found the workings of the human body in both health and disease.
What do you like about medicine?
In the medical field, patients walk through your office door as strangers and they walk away as close friends or even family, having shared their deepest fears and deposited an incredible amount of trust in their doctor. I enjoy the opportunity to build relationships with new people. If I had to pick one aspect that I dislike the most it would be the suboptimal health care that we provide our children, particularly the lack of education and emphasis on healthy lifestyle choices and behaviors from an early age. I see myself as a future advocate for a stronger focus on preventative health and education for our children. That’s my passion.
How has your New College experience served you best?
My experience in medical school so far—from the application process all the way through the first two years of training—has proven to require a whole lot of motivation and self-drive. Moreover, the curriculum at CCLCM is designed for independent learners and the educational philosophy relies on a small class size where communication and professionalism are highly emphasized. The educational philosophy at New College is focused on independent learning and student-driven initiatives, with small classes that encouraged discussions among students and faculty. I can’t think of a richer experience that could have better prepared me for a profession in which teamwork and critical thinking are of the essence.
What advice do you have for current students?
The New College curriculum, with its contract system and built-in independent study opportunities, encourages students to engage in both academic and extracurricular activities that may or may not be related to their chosen area of concentration. Take advantage of this sort of “structured flexibility,” yet listen to and seek your faculty advisor’s thoughts on how to time manage best.
Are you doing any volunteer work?
I am currently working with the Office of Volunteer Services and Child Life staff at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital on an evening and weekend volunteer program run by medical students. I also co-captained the CCLCM team for a local American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Actually, my first Relay for Life was in Sarasota, when Sonia Wu (NCF Admissions Office) organized a New College team.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Every Thursday afternoon, when I am scheduled to see patients with a Family Medicine physician in one of Cleveland Clinic’s family health centers, it makes me incredibly proud to hear patients say to me “thank you for listening.” Once I get the medical student volunteer program at the Children’s Hospital up and running, that will probably be up on my list of proudest accomplishments as well.