Anthony Ungaro is the winner of NYIT's student speaker contest and will address students at NYIT Commencement on Sunday, May 18. He balances his academic studies with work as a certified medical assistant at the Comprehensive Spine and Pain Center of New York. He also volunteers in the pediatric emergency department of Mount Sinai Hospital and as a science and math tutor for economically disadvantaged high school students. Prior to NYIT, he served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including a deployment to Iraq during the 2004 Battle of Faullujah.
Why did you choose to study at NYIT?
Because it's one of the very few schools that offers an interdisciplinary studies major. I feel this degree program is something that shares similarities to the way I think about life-that we all should strive to be multifaceted and unique in our understanding of the world. NYIT's program does that well, and with appropriate discipline choices, it goes beyond preparing students for whatever obstacles the world may throw at them.
What have been your best experiences at NYIT?
Attending the American Medical Student Association's Regional and National Conventions in New Jersey and New Orleans, respectively. I represented NYIT's Department of Life Sciences in various medically-related symposia. These experiences enabled me to tackle areas of concern in the health care field, while promoting teamwork and honing my networking skills.
What are your career aspirations and how has NYIT has helped you on this path?
I aspire to become a physician through a nontraditional approach. This route was made possible by NYIT's interdisciplinary studies program. I chose this path instead of a traditional approach because it is my understanding that becoming a physician requires more than just knowledge of science. It demands that you have a multidisciplinary understanding of the world, which will aid in better communication with and treatment of patients. I aim to incorporate the discipline and compassion I have learned from my life experiences and course of study to better the lives of those in need of medical care in the future.
What is an example of an interesting class project that you've experienced here?
A challenging final paper for a course on American Nervousness: Mental Health and Madness in American Literature and Culture taught by Elizabeth Donaldson, Ph.D., associate professor of English. For the project, I was tasked with expounding the main character's mental state in Edgar Allen Poe's short story, "The Tell-Tale Heart," by writing a historically appropriate and stylistically accurate epilogue. I expanded upon my creative writing skillset and formulated a plot about an era that was otherwise unfamiliar to me, in a manner that would have indicated the opposite. This project taught me that breaking out of my comfort zone is when the learning process truly begins.
What were you looking forward to most when you came to NYIT?
A brand-new experience, one that I haven't had any exposure to. I have spent the majority of my life working in an entirely different field than what I had planned to study at NYIT. The thought of embarking on a journey to seemingly "uncharted territory" was something that has excited me for quite some time and continues today.
Describe some of the transitions you had to go through from the U.S. Marine Corps to college.
Although college was a considerable change of pace for me than when I was in the Marine Corps, I have excelled in my studies due to the discipline and motivation the Marine Corps instilled in me. Those traits have become integrated in every aspect of my life and serve as an ideology to achieve success.
What is something that others are often surprised to learn about you?
I ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle, often to and from class.
What do you enjoy outside of college?
Baking, playing bass guitar in a band, and taking my pitbull, Donny, on long walks.
Who inspires you?
I thank my family, especially my Grandma Helen, for being a positive influence on me throughout the duration of my collegiate journey. I would not have been able to do this without their support.