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Tiffany Panko

Pankos white coat ceremony

1.     The basics: hometown, current city

Hometown: Webster, NY;  Current city: Rochester, NY

2.     Do you identify as deaf, hard of hearing or another term?

I don't like this question :)  I usually answer that I'm whatever you want to call me (as long as it isn't 'hearing impaired') and really, that I'm just Tiffany.  I'm fine with being called deaf or hard-of-hearing.  When appropriate, I speak up and ask that 'hearing impaired' isn't used.

3.     Your educational background: mainstream/school for the deaf; high school; college and major; graduate/medical school and major; additional training/education

 I went to Rochester School for the Deaf full-time up until the 6th grade.  Between the 7th and 9th grades, I went to a public school full-time and then from 10th grade until graduation, I went to Webster Schroeder high school in the mornings and RSD in the afternoons.  I received my bachelors degree (a multidisciplinary degree in psychological and premedical studies) and a MBA at RIT.  Before entering medical school, I also became certified as a nurse assistant at BOCES #1.  In just a couple of weeks, I will be starting my second year at the University of Rochester Medical School!

4.     What about your field interests you the most?

I really enjoy medicine because it combines the hard science with the soft science of caring for people.  While there are a lot of ways to help people, I really enjoy the medicine portion of it, too, and that's what ignites my fire to do what I do (and got me here!)

5.     What barriers did you encounter in your education?

I've had to make sure that I have good interpreters - not only that I have them, but also that they are a good fit for my needs and for the class.

6.     How did you overcome those barriers?

I learned to be a self advocate early in my life.  I have a very supportive mother that worked hard to make sure that I had all the support services I needed in high school.  I am very fortunate that the University of Rochester Medical Center has a team of interpreters that work hard to make sure that my experience is as close to smooth as possible (it's still medical school!).

7.     What advice would you give to others interested in pursuing a career in the science field?

Be persistent!  If you know you want something, don't stop chasing your dreams.  Volunteer along the way, for both related and unrelated things -- to make sure you want to pursue medicine and to show the applications committee that you are sure and that you give back to the community!

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