Weill Cornell Welcomes New Class of Physician Assistant Students
Danielle Langone knows in her bones what she's meant to do for the rest of her life.
"Being a physician assistant is my destiny, but it took me a while to get here," said Langone, 29, of Staten Island. "It took me a few careers to figure it out."
|Weill Cornell's Master of Science in Health Sciences for Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2014
Photo credit: Amelia Panico
She began her professional career in public relations editing press releases. Then a dietician working in a hospital. Now she's at Weill Cornell Medical College as one of 33 students in the Master of Science in Health Sciences for Physician Assistants Program, Class of 2014.
"I know I'm going to come out of Cornell with an amazing education," Langone said. "I'm excited to grow and learn and apply it all into the future."
Program administrators are lauding the Class of 2014 — for which 721 people applied — as one of the best classes accepted in the 26-month PA program at the Medical College.
"This is one of the most highly qualified classes that we have admitted," said Gerard Marciano, program director and instructor of physician assistant studies in clinical surgery.
These 33 students have an average undergraduate grade point average of 3.63, an average science GPA of 3.65, and scored an average 63rd percentile on the GRE.
At the traditional white coat ceremony hosted in March, these students embarked on a journey that, as Dr. Katherine Hajjar, program chair and the Brine Family Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, put it, will be just as important as the destination.
"Becoming a physician assistant is not an end in itself — it's actually a beginning," said Dr. Hajjar as she addressed the class for the first time, citing Homer's tale of Odysseus as a metaphor for the life and work of PAs. "It is a way of life that requires dedication, but also reaps incalculable rewards."
This was just some of the wisdom students gleaned during the March 22 ceremony, which featured the insights of Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, Dr. David P. Hajjar, dean of the Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Dr. Katherine Hajjar and Erika Bramlette, clinical coordinator and instructor of physician assistant studies in surgery.
"It's where I'm supposed to be and where I want to be," said Langone about starting the program.
But it took a family tragedy to show Langone that health care is where she belongs.
Langone's father was diagnosed with lung cancer several years ago. She was at his side as he underwent treatment and met with his doctors and medical professionals.
"I was very grateful for what they did for my father," said Langone, whose father eventually lost his battle with cancer. "It was very inspiring to me."
John Quigley, too, knows that he's in the right place. Deployed to Iraq with the military, Quigley, 30, observed as physician assistants provided both routine and traumatic care to troops and civilians in military hospitals.
When he left active duty in 2005, Quigley, who had previously earned a bachelor's degree in business, went back to school for his science prerequisites and moved to New York from California for Weill Cornell's program.
"I'm looking forward to completing the program because the knowledge and skills I will obtain will allow me to provide health care to people who might not have been able to get it before," he said. "I'm really looking forward to making that impact and difference in people's lives."