This month we catch up with Priya Kodiyanplakkal as she shares her inspiration for becoming a physician and how St. John’s prepared her for Yale University and beyond.
What years did you attend St. John’s School?
What did you do the year following High School graduation?
I went to college at Yale University and majored in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.
Can you tell us about the career path you chose after college?
After college, I moved to New York City and have been here ever since! I went to medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and stayed there for my Internal Medicine Residency. I then moved to Columbia University/New-York Presbyterian Hospital to complete my Infectious Diseases Fellowship. I also obtained a masters in epidemiology from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University during that time. I have now joined the faculty at Weill Cornell School of Medicine and see patients at New-York Presbyterian Hospital.
Outside of work, what other activities/organizations are you involved in?
Whenever I have time off, I love to travel – both domestically and internationally. I love exploring new cities, cultures, and food! During my next vacation, I plan to cross an item off my bucket list and go on safari in Kenya. I am also a huge fan of the arts and since I am lucky enough to live in NYC, I try to take in as much Broadway, opera, and theater as I can.
What do you enjoy most about your current career position?
What I love about my job is that it offers different challenges everyday. I have the incredible honor of trying to help my patients, and each patient is unique. This field is constantly evolving, which means I am always learning too. I also love teaching, so being able to work with medical students, residents, and fellows is incredibly fulfilling.
How did you become interested in your field of study or work?
I have some physicians in my family, and hearing their stories about serving the community in Guam was an inspiration to me growing up. I have always loved he sciences, and my first interaction with the medical field was as a volunteer at Guam Memorial Hospital. When I went to college, I became more interested in the biomedical sciences because of my coursework and mentors. During that time, I also had personal experiences with the healthcare system while caring for a loved one who became ill. It was a combination of all these factors that lead me on my path to becoming a physician.
How has attending St. John’s prepared you for success in college and in the workplace?
The curriculum at SJS definitely prepared me for what was to come in college. I received my International Baccalaureate Diploma from SJS, and was able to get college credit for some of my high school classes.
Do you still keep in touch with your St. John’s School friends?
Absolutely! There is a contingent of SJS alumni here in NYC, and we get together when we can. In fact, a bunch of us met up for dinner recently. I also reconnect with my classmates who are still in Guam whenever I come back home to visit.
What experiences from St. John’s are the most memorable? Do you have a favorite teacher, mentor or counselor?
I have to give shout outs to my STEM teachers: Mrs. Duckrow, Dr. Pearson, and Dr. Odi-Diambra! Thank you for sharing your love and enthusiasm for math and science with us. Your dedication to teaching definitely influenced my interest in the sciences early on.
The memorable moments at SJS involve the time spent with my friends and classmates, forming the relationships that I cherish today. Some of my favorite memories include: playing pusoy dos during lunch, cruising around the island, ACB tournaments, winning a soccer championship, losing many basketball games, and breaking into school after hours and blowing up hundreds of balloons to fill the hallway during our senior prank.
What would you say to a prospective family who is considering St. John’s School?
If you are considering going to college off island after high school, SJS offers opportunities that may help prepare you for that next step. The AP and IB curricula are standardized, so taking those classes are good preparation for college.
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