Name: Devin R. Halleran
Class Year: 2015
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
Undergraduate Institution: Hamilton College
Degree: BA English
President, Class of 2015 (This is not really an award but it's the best I can do!)
Hobbies: Playing the piano, watching movies, and playing catch (I played baseball in college so I like to keep my arm in shape in case the Yankees need another pitcher in October).
Favorite Movie: The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s technically three movies, but I’ve justified watching them in one sitting by convincing myself that it’s just one.

What influenced your decision to pursue a career in Medicine?
I was working in finance after graduating from college with a degree in English and no plans to be a doctor. In fact, as the son of a surgeon, it was the one career I was able to definitively rule out. That changed when I received a text message in 2007 from my best friend, who had cystic fibrosis, informing me that he matched for a pair of lungs and was on his way to New York City for transplant. That was the moment I knew that I wanted to work in a field that allowed me to impact others’ lives as significantly as my friend’s (and, indirectly, mine as well).

What has been your most gratifying moment in medical school so far?
I spent the summer at Stanford University doing research in cystic fibrosis and bronchiolitis obliterans (chronic lung transplant rejection). On days when I had some downtime, I would shadow in the pediatric CF clinic. A resident and I were finishing our visit with a patient when, just before leaving the room, the young girl came up and gave me a hug. Knowing the course of the disease and that she had already been through more in four years than most experience in a life, and that in some small way my brief interaction with her was able to alleviate just a bit of her suffering nearly moved me to tears. Being unable to do more for her was an incredibly helpless feeling, but it will always serve as a reminder of why I chose this field.

What faculty or staff member has most positively affected your experience at Upstate Medical University thus far? Why?
Everybody has been so wonderful that it seems unfair to single out any one person! But Dr. Amy Friedman, a transplant surgeon at Upstate, has really been great to me over the last year. I contacted her last fall to express my interest in surgery, and she enthusiastically invited me to her office to meet. That meeting led to an invitation to scrub into surgery with her, which led to a small research project that culminated with first authorship on a poster that was named a “Poster of Distinction” at the 2012 American Transplant Congress in Boston last June. Of course, none of that would have been possible if I was told to come back as a third or fourth year, but Dr. Friedman was willing to extend herself for my education, which I truly appreciate.

What has been your most challenging aspect of medical school thus far? Why?
I’ve always been a very outgoing and social person, so it can be difficult at times to temper my natural inclination to engage and talk with everybody when I have piles of notes to get through. This has caused me to lose touch with many close relationships I had before school began, but I do my best to keep in contact with most.

If you could pass along any advice to an incoming Upstate Medical University medical student, what would it be?
The sum of human medical knowledge has evolved far more rapidly than the brain, so don’t be surprised that you can’t learn it all. Enjoy your time in medical college, be humbled by the complexity of the human body, and don’t be afraid to seek guidance when your own expertise falls short.

What experience in medical school has surprised you the most?
I have been most pleasantly surprised by the helpfulness of everybody with whom I have come into contact—my classmates especially. You hear horror stories about gunning first year medical students ripping pages from textbooks in the library, but my experience has been the complete opposite. The people who comprise the Class of 2015 are a group of the most intelligent, compassionate, and hardest working I have ever known and I witness them bending over backwards for one another on a daily basis. They have made my experience at Upstate a great one.

What are your aspirations following medical school?
Following medical school I plan to enter into a general surgery residency followed by a pediatric surgery fellowship. I also enjoy research and plan to devote part of my career to academics.

What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time I like to play the piano, catch up on sleep, spend time with friends and family, and watch the Yankees or Syracuse basketball games both on TV and in person. And I’d be a terrible English major if I didn’t put reading down here too!