Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Clifton Resident Sets Sights on Career in Medicine 

Demarest, NJ: While many high school sophomores are still a few years away from choosing a career path, Czarina Marie Alfonso is already taking significant steps toward a future in medicine.

Alfonso, who is a member of the Class of 2020 at the Academy of the Holy Angels, recently finished second in a competition at Georgetown Medical School, and then visited the Philippines to bring pneumonia vaccines to local children.


“I attended a three-week medical program at Georgetown, where, in our spare time, we were to put together a research poster on our preferred topics,” the Clifton resident said of her experience. “On the last day of the program, everyone gathered in an atrium and presented the poster to our peers, professors, and the council of the Georgetown Medical School.


“I chose to do research on the effects of electroconvulsive therapy versus standard antidepressants on a depression patient's HAM-D score.”


After completing the program at Georgetown, Alfonso and her parents took their annual trip to the Philippines. This journey included a service element Alfonso organized throughout the previous academic year, and now plans to expand.


“Throughout the 2016-17 school year, I solicited money from relatives and family friends,” she explained, adding, “I collaborated with a local pediatrician to use the money to vaccinate day care aged children against pneumonia.


“We vaccinated 100 children in the mountain province of Antipolo, though many of the children walked two hours to come and get vaccinated. I'm in the process of establishing this program as a nonprofit organization, so we can receive grants and funds to vaccinate more children in different provinces.”


Asked about her interest in medicine, Alfonso explained that her curiosity was developed and nurtured at home.


“As the daughter of two doctors, I grew up hearing about different cases and various medical terms at our dinner table,” she explained. “Hearing about what my parents did at work inspired me to follow in their footsteps at a very young age. After perusing the medical journals my parents would receive in the mail, I was amazed by how changes and developments in medicine can affect and impact the lives of numerous individuals, both sick and healthy. The thought of not only improving, but also saving, people’s lives is something I have always wanted to partake in.”


Alfonso sees herself earning an undergraduate degree in biochemistry or biology before entering medical school. She said she would like to pursue a Ph.D./M.D. program, noting her love for research and her desire to have her own practice or work at a hospital.


“Cardiology and dermatology are the specific specialties that appealed to me during my time at Georgetown,” she added.


Alfonso’s busy schedule includes competitive fencing and volunteer work at a hospital. Her extracurricular activities at Holy Angels include involvement in Angels Enable, a group that has used 3-D printing equipment to create prosthetics, including a hand. Alfonso is also assistant vice president of the AHA club known as MEDS, an acronym for Medical Enthusiasts Determined to Succeed. MEDS participants receive guidance and strategies from medical professionals who offer information regarding students’ educational choices and tips for balancing their personal and professional lives.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.



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