The 50th anniversary of women’s arrival at Union features a year-long celebration of women and their contributions to the College, their communities and the world.
Shari Midoneck-Pochapin '85 majored in chemistry at Union College before graduating from Cornell University Medical College in 1989 with an M.D. Trained in both internal medicine and infectious disease, she spent the first 20 years of her career as an internist at the Iris Cantor Center for Women’s Health at Weill Cornell Medicine. During that time, she was also involved in medical education. For 17 years, Shari ran a course in the medical school that prepared students for the start of clinical work. In 2010, she became associate dean of Academic Affairs at the medical college. In 2013, Shari started a small concierge internal medicine practice in New York City. She continues to teach medical students at Weill Cornell and is a clinical associate professor of medicine at the medical college. At Weill Cornell, Shari also sits on the Board of the Alumni Association and on the Student Affairs and Education Committee of the Board of Overseers. She is president of Sutton Place Synagogue and has been on the Board and Executive Committee for over 15 years. Shari is the first woman to serve as president of the synagogue.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career or volunteer activities?
As a physician, it is truly an honor to go to work every day with the ability to make a difference in someone’s life. That incredible honor comes with a great deal of responsibility and, occasionally, challenges when dealing with people when they are most vulnerable.
Who inspired and/or inspires you, both professionally and personally?
The person who inspires me most is my husband, Mark Pochapin. We are both physicians and met in medical school. Mark is a leader in his field and recently became the president of the American College of Gastroenterology. Despite all his accomplishments, he remains a compassionate clinician, intellectually curious and a true leader among his peers. He teaches me every day, by example, how to be a better person and doctor. He is a great husband and father, as well. He has been my biggest advocate. I am very fortunate.
What advice would you offer today’s women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
You can do anything if you set your mind to it. Don’t ever sell yourself short. When I was the associate dean, I was responsible for helping people with their applications to residencies. I remember one meeting with a woman who was at the top of the class and applying for a very competitive residency program. I recommended that she apply for the number one program in the country and she said, “It intimidates me.” I responded, “Nothing should intimidate you. You can do anything.” Needless to say, she was accepted at the number one program and was a star. My advice is to go for your dreams and don’t let anyone, including the voice in your head, tell you that you can’t do it.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
There were many, but the most formative was being on the Student Forum and becoming a Student Trustee. The leadership opportunity that this afforded me and the confidence that I developed through this opportunity was something that I took with me to medical school, residency, my day-to-day interactions and my career. I am very grateful to Union because the college allows students to get involved and make a difference.