"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, April 20, 2015

6. Leah Berkery

Several of the alums featured between now and reunion were degree marshals for their respective colleges during our commencement ceremony in May 1995, an honor awarded to the two students in each college with the highest GPA.

Albany, New York · Agriculture and Life Sciences

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/leah.berkery

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.

I work as a physician at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, NY.  I am a hospitalist, which means I exclusively take care of patients when they are admitted to the hospital.  It is a relatively new medical specialty, and it has been exciting to be in such a challenging and quickly-changing field.  I am also the President of the Albany Area Chapter of the Society of Hospital Medicine, our national organization.

I decided to take on a new challenge last November by participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I actually had not written any fiction since high school, but I was able to write a 57,000 word first draft of a novel within a thirty-day period.

I love to travel, and am about to go on my 22nd cruise!  I also enjoy Zumba classes, and I have been licensed as a Zumba instructor for three years.

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?

The most useful class I took was one that was outside of my major (Biology), but which has proved essential to my career—Scientific Writing for Public Information.  The course taught me how to take technical scientific jargon and translate it into something that people without a scientific background can understand.  Every day in the hospital, I have to explain complex medical issues to patients with no medical background.  It is vital for me to be able to communicate that information in such a way that they fully comprehend their conditions and their treatment options.

What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this year?
I would encourage new students to take some courses in areas outside of their main fields of study—courses which have little bearing on their future career, but which are just interesting or unusual. This is your chance to explore and learn about new things! I was a biology major, but I was also able to take a year of French, a semester of Archeology, and (of course!) a semester on Wines.

What are you most looking forward to at Reunion 2015?

I cannot wait to re-connect with old friends from both Cornell undergrad and Cornell Med in New York City, which I attended for med school—a fair number of my Cornell Med classmates went to Cornell as undergrads as well.  I am looking forward to seeing campus again and doing some sightseeing in the Ithaca area.  I am also hoping I’ll be able to do some shopping at Wegmans!