Mary Beth Gadarowski '15 majored in biology and minored in religious studies at Union College before earning her medical degree from the State University of New York Upstate Medical University (May 2020). Now a resident physician at San Antonio Military Medical Center, she is pursuing a career in dermatology. Mary Beth is active in many organizations, including GLODERM (the International Alliance for Global Health Dermatology), the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and the American Medical Women’s Association. The last recently presented her with its 2020 Glasgow-Rubin Citation Academic Achievement Award. Passionate about global health and HIV research, in medical school she was a student investigator for an HIV study in Kisumu, Kenya, through the SUNY Institute for Global Health. Mary Beth has also helped establish a patient database for Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE) at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and been published in the International Breastfeeding Journal and the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology Case Reports. She is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. At Upstate Medical University, she was involved with the shelterless female population in Syracuse, through a collaboration between the Women’s Health and Empowerment Learning Group and the Syracuse Rescue Mission Alliance.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career or volunteer activities?
The greatest challenge in the field of medicine and healthcare that I have encountered is the desire to help and reach as many people as possible, especially women and children, and provide better access to healthcare, resources and education. The disparities and various socioeconomic situations are difficult and heartbreaking at times. It is challenging to address the social determinants of health that influence and often dictate the overall wellbeing of our patients. But each day in medicine is truly a privilege. It is incredibly humbling and rewarding to treat, provide care, and ultimately participate in the healing nature of our profession with patients. The continuity in care, establishing rapport and making a difference are beyond gratifying.
Who inspired/inspires you, both professionally and personally?
I am extremely passionate about global health. During my time in South Africa (as a Union College Minerva Fellow), I had the privilege of entering the lives of women and children afflicted by poverty, HIV and food insecurity. Lauren Cohen ’78, founder and executive director of The Gift of Hope, inspired me with her tenacity, dedication and commitment to women and children. The degree to which she truly cares is absolutely remarkable. The incredible mentors and advisors who have provided invaluable guidance and insight, both professionally and personally, are some of my greatest inspiration. Their selflessness, willingness to help and unwavering belief inspires me to give back to others. Last but not least, my friends and family always have inspired me, and will continue to inspire me with the endless depths to their constant and unwavering support and encouragement.
What advice would you offer today’s women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
Embrace and seek opportunities, engage in your local community, and strive for excellence. Never settle. Life is too short to fall short of pursuing anything but your dreams!
What was your most formative experience at Union?
Many of my formative experiences can be attributed to the Union College Scholars Program. I felt privileged to assume a leadership role, take part in book clubs, lunch events and the longitudinal Scholars Research Project. This flexibility enabled me to pursue a project in the Political Science Department. The duration of the project taught me how to set goals, meet deadlines and participate in a long-term collaboration. The emphasis that Union places on a well-rounded education enabled me to minor in religious studies and to engage in a yearlong dance practicum. I believe this truly shaped my outlook in regards to the humanities and broadened my perspectives. And of course, the lasting relationships with friends and faculty shaped who I am. I cannot even fathom what my college experience would have been without the influences and involvement of the Union College faculty.