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Medical Science Meet Austin LaRocca

Austin LaRocca, Drexel Master of Science in Medical Science Program Graduate


Hometown: Sicklerville, New Jersey
Undergraduate: Drew University, BA in biochemistry and molecular biology, and Spanish
Graduate: Drexel University College of Medicine, MS in Medical Science


Can you tell me a little about yourself before you came to Drexel?

Before I came to Drexel, I was just finishing my bachelor's degree at Drew University. I majored in biochemistry and molecular biology, and Spanish. I grew up in South Jersey, right over the bridge, about 25 minutes away from Philadelphia.

Why did you apply to Drexel's Master of Science in Medical Science (MMS) program?

Drexel was on my list for medical school. I had a late interview, so my rejection came late too. I needed to find something else and began to look at other options. The rejection letter had mentioned the master's programs here. I did a little research and liked what I saw, so I decided to apply.

How is the program going so far?

It's been really enjoyable. The whole reason I picked the Medical Science program is because they advertised this immersion into the medical and clinical field. I think clinical experience was the thing that was lacking on my medical school application the first cycle. In the program, I think I've gotten a feel for what is to be a medical student and what it is like to work with people and have a clinical mindset. Before that, I had only a research background.

Can you tell me about any research that you are doing now?

With the Master of Science in Medical Science program, the second year is dedicated to a research project. You're allowed to pick what you're interested in. I decided to do research in the clinical psychology field, which is a big turn for me because I worked in cancer biology during undergrad. Now I work in the Geller Lab. They collaborate with Chavis A. Patterson, PhD, at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). We look at stress and anxiety in parents who have babies in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

What is your relationship with the faculty like?

They are lovely. I've gotten to know some of them pretty well, especially those involved with the pre-health and pre-med program. I also know some of the professors in the College of Medicine who taught some of our lectures. They are nice and always open for questions. They seem like they are really interested in you and how you're doing.

What is your relationship with your classmates like?

It's also been lovely. In the Medical Science program, there are only about eight of us. During the first year, we share classes with a bigger cohort of about 60 people. You get to know a lot of them, but when you are in your own little cohort from the MMS program in the second year, you really get to know one another. There's a feeling that we are all in this together. We have a group chat together and are always messaging one another, and we all know what's going on in each other's lives. We are a support team for one another.

How do you like living in Philadelphia?

I live right in Center City and really love it. I came from the suburbs, which is fine, but I love how I can walk out of my apartment and be surrounded by people and have great restaurants near me. It's very lively. If that's a vibe you like, you'll enjoy it here.

What are your plans for after you complete the Master of Science in Medical Science program?

I got into Cooper Medical School of Rowan University for this upcoming cycle, so in August I will be starting orientation week. My long-term goal is to do a surgical residency and become a surgeon.

Did the Master of Science in Medical Science program help you get into medical school?

Yes, I don't know what I would have done without the Medical Science program. It would have been a lot harder to get the things I needed on my application in order to get that offer of admission.

What advice do you have for people who are considering attending Drexel's Master of Science in Medical Science program?

If you think that you need more research experience and more clinical experience, this is a great program for you. It won't be easy, but if you are really dedicated to becoming a doctor, you'll put in the hard work and get through it.

Drexel University College of Medicine Medical Science program graduate students participating in a group discussion.