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Four NNY students to attend medical conference in Washington, D.C.


Four north country students want to be among the next generation of medical providers.

Participation from teenagers Sylvia Nentwick, Gouverneur; Alex D. Gagnier, Tupper Lake; Janessa Vaadi, Mannsville, and Emma Silverthorn, Watertown, in the Feb. 14 to 16 Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Washington, D. C., will make them one step closer to just that.

“My aunt is a physician — a psychiatrist — so what she does interests me,” said Miss Nentwick, 17. “I actually want to be a cosmetic surgeon. Ultimately, I want to make people feel better. People are more accepting of cosmetic surgery now than they were before. They’ll want to help people more if I help them.”

The anticipation of even being accepted into SUNY Binghamton to pursue undergraduate studies before medical school, she said, has her wondering how she can use her time to further educate herself on medical issues and careers.

The congress, a program of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, is intended to “honor, inspire, motivate and direct those top students in our country and help them stay true to their dreams,” according to the academy website. The honors-only program is for high school students who have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher who want to become physicians or enter the medical field.

Attendees also will be entered into the academy’s free mentoring program, and have a chance to win a full medical school scholarship, covering tuition only, to a U.S.-based medical school, up to $185,000. Two $10,000 medical school scholarships also will be awarded.

Mr. Gagnier, 15, said his dream is to go to a postsecondary school in the Boston area, to study the more scientific aspect of medical fields. His interests are in technology and medical research.

“I lost a grandfather to lung cancer,” he said. “Going through losses and sadness, you can see if you can help. With other fields you could indirectly help them, but with medicine, you’re there; you’re helping them.”

He said he has a particular interest in stem cell research, and hopes to meet people and listen to speakers at the congress who will help him narrow his postsecondary focus.

Interests in math and sciences runs in Mr. Gagnier’s family, he said, as an uncle is a cardiosurgeon and his grandmother is a biology teacher.

Family supported the roughly $1,500 cost of Mr. Gagnier’s trip, but Miss Nentwick said she enlisted help from family, friends and local agencies, including the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, which gave her $800 toward her total cost. Gouverneur Hospital and SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, also offered support, she said.

Miss Silverthorn, a ninth-grader in the General Brown Central School District, raised nearly $1,200 through an online fundraising effort. As part of her GoFundMe profile, she said her ambition is to become a cardiologist. She wrote: “When I was 13, my father almost died from endocarditis; he underwent heart surgery and had a mechanical valve implanted when his aortic valve was damaged by strep bacteria. This experience and a lifelong interest has influenced me to study cardiology.”

For more information on the congress, visit

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