Giving it Her All
As a Division 1 (D1) soccer player, Noelle Batista used her work ethic and team-oriented mentality to excel in sports. She brings that same drive to her studies at the College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM), where she is pursuing a dual degree in Osteopathic Medicine, D.O./Academic Medicine, M.S. As an Academic Medicine Scholar, Batista applies what she learns by teaching anatomy lab, osteopathic manipulative medicine lab, and doctor-patient relationship lab. “Throughout my life, my mentality has always been to put 120 percent into everything I do,” says Batista, who was selected as the mentorship coordinator of the National Pre-SOMA committee (Pre-Student Osteopathic Medical Association) for the 2022-2023 academic year. The committee aims to help pre-medical students learn about the osteopathic medical community. She spoke to New York Tech News about her journey.
Tell us about yourself. What brought you to New York Tech, and what has your experience been like so far?
I was born and raised on Long Island. I graduated from Hicksville High School before accepting a scholarship to play D1 soccer at New Jersey Institute of Technology. I graduated from there in 2019 with a B.S. in Biology and started medical school at New York Tech right after college.
Both my family values and sports background have influenced every aspect of my approach to medicine and how I treat patients. My parents instilled in me core values of hard work and accountability, and Sunday dinners with my grandparents and cousins were a reminder to connect with one another and grow.
NYITCOM is filled with incredible opportunities, from research and early clinical exposure to clubs and extracurricular activities. However, what makes NYITCOM so special is that it isn’t just a school or educational institution, it’s a community and a family of students, faculty, and staff who support and encourage one another. I believe that people end up where they are supposed to, and I am forever grateful that my journey has led me here. Being so close to home, I also have the added benefit of making it to Sunday dinners. When I’m not studying, of course! I am entering my fourth year, and I’ve come to realize that NYITCOM has become my family.
Why did you choose to study medicine?
At my kindergarten graduation, I walked across the stage with my plastic medical kit and said I would be a doctor when I grew up. For as long as I can remember, this has been my dream. My love of learning and intellectual curiosity drove me to pursue a career in medicine.
Studying medicine has felt so natural for me; it has become my ultimate sport. It requires grit; you must be tough mentally, physically, and emotionally. As I reflect on my time in medical school, I realize that while my drive to pursue a career in the medical field began as a desire to learn, it has evolved into a commitment to continuously motivate and empower those around me, to collaborate with others, and to treat my patients with the highest level of care.
What excites you most about a career in medicine?
I’m interested in emergency medicine and critical care. The atmosphere of working in the emergency room or ICU [intensive care unit] has been the closest I’ve felt to being a D1 athlete since I graduated from NJIT. Every shift is like a game day—you must be prepared for all possible situations at any given time. To care for patients in some of the most difficult situations, you must be meticulous, think fast, be bold, and above all, you must remain calm and collected to make decisions under pressure. In this environment, you rely on maximal team effort and communication between your patient, your patient’s families, and the entire healthcare team.
You are working with Associate Professor Dong Zhang, Ph.D., to study the BRCA (breast cancer) gene. Can you talk about what you are researching?
Working in Dr. Zhang’s lab has been such a rewarding experience. I am working with an incredible team, student Manrose Singh; Alexis Perez, research assistant; and fellow academic scholar Sanket Desai. Our main project has been studying the molecular mechanisms of DNA replication, DNA repair, and DNA damage response to define their complex roles in cancer development. The BRCA gene is a tumor suppressor gene known to contribute to these processes and is one of many targets that we study in the lab. The goal is to identify novel molecular targets in these pathways that may be used for cancer therapy, specifically in cancers that are otherwise known to have poor clinical outcomes.
What advice do you have for first-year medical students?
Whenever it gets stressful or overwhelming, I always encourage students to recall how long they dreamt of making it to medical school. Getting here was the hard part! You’ve made it. You’ve done the hard part. Now it’s time to enjoy it. I find something that I am grateful for every single day because this has been my dream for so long. With that mindset, every day becomes something special. Also, you will be surrounded by peers of all ages with all levels of experience in all fields of study. Learn as much as you can from everyone around you, be open to new experiences, and collaborate with your peers!
This interview has been edited and condensed.