Right on Track
Kyle Fitzgerald is on track to receive his M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in spring 2021, but he’s just warming up for the next mile: medical school. He plans to continue his studies at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) and hopes to one day become a family physician.
Fitzgerald, who studied kinesiology as an undergraduate at Hampton University, is working with Troy Camarata, Ph.D., assistant professor of basic sciences at NYITCOM-Arkansas, to investigate the health impacts of agricultural burning and air pollution. Alongside Camarata, he is applying his understanding of the human body to examine how particulate matter released by fires may contribute to respiratory issues.
The Box sat down with Fitzgerald to learn more about his academic journey and what inspired him to pursue a medical education.
When did you realize you wanted to enter the medical field?
There hasn’t been a single moment that put me on this path. Choosing medicine has been a consensus of various experiences in my life. However, the most prominent reason is being fascinated with the complexities of the human body and the potential to impact others. Doctors get to build lifelong relationships with their patients, and I would love to walk alongside another person while helping to prevent chronic disease.
What did you study in undergrad, and why did you choose that degree?
I attended Hampton University, an HBCU in Hampton Virginia, where I received my Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. I also graduated from the Hampton University Freddye T. Davy Honors College. I received the Presidential Scholarship all four years of my tenure at Hampton and received a nomination for the Presidential Cup award in my senior year. Furthermore, I have received the Tom Joyner Hercules Scholarship and the 2018 UNCF (United Negro College Fund) Achievement Capstone Scholarship.
I chose kinesiology because I played sports throughout my life, and it held my fascination. I ran track on my high school team and received the equivalent of the school’s MVP award. Also, in track, I was on the relay team that broke the school’s record as well as became state champion in the medley relay.
Learning the science behind exercising gave me a higher regard for sports. Understanding the “behind the scenes” of the body fuels my fascination with the fantastic machine that the body is.
Can you talk about the research you are doing with Assistant Professor Camarata on agricultural burning and air pollution?
Due to COVID-19, I am conducting virtual research for Dr. Camarata. I have spent most of my time compiling an Excel template that the research lab will use to input data we have received from Medicare and the data that we are personally collecting through air quality sensors that are placed throughout Jonesboro. Dr. Camarata hosts weekly meetings, which serve to develop a community of the research teams on various projects. In our forums, we present our projects, brainstorm solutions to problems, and offer advice. We also share a few laughs.
Why did you choose your current degree, and how has it prepared you for medical school?
I chose the biomedical sciences master’s program to better my chances of being accepted into the D.O. program. You hear that medical school will be arduous, but until you experience the curriculum, can you grasp how challenging it is. I feel the program has taught me how to manage my time. Moreover, I discovered that the material isn’t necessarily difficult to grasp, but the challenge is the propensity to digest the vast amount of information.
New York Tech is equipping me with the knowledge I will one day need to change lives. Through the various resources available to me, I have also learned how to be resilient to excel in medical school. I love the care that the professors have for their students, and I genuinely feel that most of them care about my success as much I do.
How do you maintain a balance of work and personal time while in school?
I always remember to have fun. Without fun, what is the purpose of life? My hobbies are watching cartoons, talking to friends, praying, writing poetry, and most importantly, volunteering at church for the kid’s ministry. These are what keep me going during this challenging season of my life. I am also working on a book of poetry that I hope to have published soon. My poems span a broad range of topics, but I love to write about love. I’m a romantic at heart! Another theme that is continuously in my poems is social justice and Black history.
Between your school work and hobbies, do you still find time to run?
With the vast amount of material given in school, I have unfortunately placed exercising as a secondary priority. However, I’m making a change this semester to remember that my physical health is a top priority. A physician must be in shape. I wouldn’t be a qualified guide in health if I, myself, lacked healthy habits.