Janessa A. Sullivan
Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida
Undergrad: Wellesley College
Major: Wellesley College
As a first-year medical student, Janessa Sullivan wanted to learn more about the specialty of plastic and reconstructive surgery. Working from a list of faculty members who had collaborated with students in the past, she identified Terence M. Myckatyn, MD, professor of surgery, as a potential mentor.
“I cold-emailed him, and he agreed to meet with me,” Sullivan said. She ended up conducting research with Myckatyn on clinical outcomes and quality of life in breast reconstruction patients and went on to work with other plastic surgery faculty members as well.
These collaborations helped solidify Sullivan’s decision to pursue a career in the field. “I’m drawn to the reconstruction side of things because it has such an impact on patients,” she said. They also sparked an interest in academic medicine. “Working with Dr. Myckatyn and other attendings helped me see the ways medical practice can intersect with research and outreach in an academic setting.”
“It makes me feel like I can do anything. I can choose any specialty, do community-based work or go into academic medicine because I don’t have to worry about debt. It’s very freeing.”
Sullivan has taken advantage of other opportunities to enrich her education: serving as president of WashU’s chapter of the Student National Medical Association, which addresses the needs of underrepresented minority medical students; teaching anatomy to high school students through the Office of Diversity Program’s Saturday Scholars Program; and talking to prospective students about the medical school as an Admissions Committee liaison.
In her conversations with applicants, Sullivan discusses her reasons for choosing WashU, including the strong sense of community she observed among students when she first visited. “Being a premed student can be competitive and intense, and I didn’t want that kind of environment in medical school,” she said. “The students here genuinely enjoy themselves. They are supportive of each other.”
In addition, WashU’s scholarship offer topped those Sullivan received from other schools. She didn’t fully recognize the benefit of this until recently. “It makes me feel like I can do anything,” she said. “I can choose any specialty, do community-based work or go into academic medicine because I don’t have to worry about debt. It’s very freeing.”