Marie Cavuoto Petrizzo '96 studied biology and sociology at Union. Her favorite class was “Social Deviance” and her favorite experience was her term abroad in York, England. Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., she now lives in Old Westbury, N.Y., where she is a physician (allergist/immunologist) and assistant dean for medical education at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.
How did you find Union and why did you choose to attend?
I was interested in pre-med and was drawn to the then 7-year program with Albany Medical College. I was told about the program through a friend of my uncle, whose son attended Union.
Students often feel pressure to do well in college. Did you feel any particular pressure?
I had always been self-motivated to succeed and do well in school. However, I actually think the 7-year program took off some additional stress as I was able to worry less about getting into a medical school and sitting for the MCATs. I just focused on my studies, maintaining a good GPA, and enjoyed the college experience.
Where did you feel most seen on campus? Most invisible?
I felt most seen in the classroom. Because class sizes were so small, I felt my professors got to know me well and I felt their support. There was a great relationship between faculty and students and faculty were very available and approachable. With regard to feeling invisible, I guess I would say that not being part of the Greek system did create a feeling of not being part of a social community.
Have you provided any mentorship yourself, academically or otherwise?
Yes. I have mentored a large number of doctors during their fellowship training regarding their careers in allergy/immunology.
What made you click? Where did you find your niche? What experience made you feel like you belonged at Union?
I felt connected to the other 7-year med students as we followed similar class schedules and were on the same track. I also really connected with the group of students I traveled to England with on my term abroad. What was nice about that experience was that I really got to know and bond with students that were not usually in my circle and I was able to develop new friendships. I also feel like the small size of the school really made students feel like they were known and belonged.
Do you feel your Union experience differed from that of your peers? If so, how?
Many of my friends attended large universities and the experiences were less intimate and less personal. Students at Union all knew one another – while we might not all have been in the same circles, we all were familiar with each other. Faculty also really got to know students which helped us to feel supported. Since there were no teaching assistants, students interacted directly with faculty, who were always approachable and available for assistance, mentorship and encouragement. This is something that is often absent at large universities.
Were there any particular programs or people at Union who really made a difference to you, either academically or personally?
The term abroad was an amazing experience. Aside from the benefits of attending school in a foreign country and immersing myself in the culture of that country, the ability to share the experiences and travel with classmates was exceptional!