Alumnae/i Profiles

Paco Aguilar, M.D.
In Cardiology, Measuring Patient Outcomes by the Minute

David Flood, M.D.
A Life’s Work in Indigenous Guatemala: Unlocking Medical Care for the Underserved

Addie Goss
Human Interest Bridges Careers in Journalism and Medicine

Erin Kiskis
From Google Marketing to Ophthalmology

Aidan Tait, M.D.
Rigor of Postbac Program Prepares Graduate for Pediatric Anesthesiology

Nkemjika Ugonabo
Utilizing Linkage Program, Finding Balance at Bryn Mawr



Paco Aguilar, M.D.

Bryn Mawr Postbac 1997
University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

In Cardiology, Measuring Patient Outcomes by the Minute

Paco Aguilar remembers the day in 1997 that he got the acceptance letter for Bryn Mawr’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical program. He was riding in a cab in New York City on his way to the airport to fly home to see his family.

“I open this thick, tattered package, and I read the word ‘congratulations,’ and I just started crying right there in the cab,” he said. “All of the worry and concern over this change was over, and I realized it was all going to work out. To the casual observer of my resume, you have no idea how important that first bullet is. I still have the letter.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Georgetown University, Aguilar worked in banking for three years in New York. He knew it wasn’t right for him within months of starting an 18-month training program.

“I gave myself the benefit of time to finish what I started, work in the field, and make an informed decision about my next step,” he said. “It was the life experience that gave me a whole different perspective. Once I made the decision to pursue medicine, the path forward wasn’t daunting. It was liberating.”

Aguilar was never far removed from a life in medicine. With a physician for a father, Aguilar spent countless Saturdays in his father’s office lounge, waiting for him to be finished with patients. Medicine was always a topic at the dinner table. During his time at Georgetown, Aguilar worked for the campus emergency response medical service.

“Working on the ambulance, running the crew, making a tangible difference in someone’s life – that was where I was the happiest,” he said. “I remember springing the news on my parents – it wasn’t until my father got to ‘hood’ me at my medical school graduation at the University of Chicago [on honor bestowed on physicians], that I think he finally accepted it.”

After completing his medical residency at Yale University and serving as chief resident for a year, Aguilar completed his fellowship in cardiology and sub-specialty in electrophysiology at Tufts University.

Now in private practice in Chicago, Aguilar helps patients with heart rhythm issues and performs pacemaker procedures. He said Bryn Mawr allowed him to accomplish what he was truly capable of, and his work now is a true reflection of how dedicated he was to pursing this career.

“In cardiology, you can measure your success sometimes days, even minutes, later,” he said. “I can see someone get better before my eyes – they can all of a sudden breathe better, they can walk. The extra time with patients, explaining everything to them and balancing their fears, is what means the world to me.”

David Flood, M.D.

Bryn Mawr Postbac 2009
Harvard Medical School


A Life’s Work in Indigenous Guatemala: Unlocking Medical Care for the Underserved

“It just isn’t fair that where you happen to be born determines whether you get sick, if you get access to the quality medical care and if you end up surviving,” said David Flood, who completed Bryn Mawr’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical program in 2009. “We live in an age in which amazing medical discoveries are made every day, yet many sick people just get locked out.”

Flood, who is now a resident in adult internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, attended and graduated from Harvard Medical School in 2015 after completing Bryn Mawr’s Postbac program.

His residency focus is designed to prepare him to continue his work with the Maya Health Alliance, a non-governmental organization that facilitates excellence and linguistic competence in medical care delivery in indigenous Guatemala.

The organization operates 10 clinics throughout rural central Guatemala and reports approximately 20,000 patient visits a year. The communities it serves lack quality medical care. Patients speak the country’s indigenous languages and frequently face difficulties communicating with Spanish-speaking healthcare professionals.

Flood began working with the organization in medical school and has since learned the Mayan language, Kaqchikel, through immersion and with the help of a local tutor.

“This work in Guatemala has become my life,” he said. “I knew since before I applied to med school that I wanted to work in global health, and seeing firsthand the issues indigenous Guatemalans living in remote areas face has solidified my decision to base my life’s work here. Most of our patients in Guatemala have never talked to a doctor in their own language, and so for me it is such a privilege and joy to serve them.”

Flood plans to remain connected to the work in Guatemala during his residency, with the eventual goal of returning to continue his leadership role with the organization while also providing clinical care. He plans to help expand the organization, serve more patients and partner with other organizations and the government to help influence care in the country.

For the person with an undergraduate degree in finance and a career trajectory on Wall Street, Flood now sees his career path as coming full circle. He looks back on his time at Bryn Mawr and credits the program and staff for setting the parameters for him to succeed in this new direction.

“Some of the things I’m working on, like raising capital and seeking investors for the program, tie right back to my finance training,” he said. “At Bryn Mawr, you’re immersed in this environment where all of the other students are just as motivated and passionate as you are, and the advisers have seen so many students in your situation and can show you how to put the pieces together - its just one year to a whole new path.”

Addie Goss

Bryn Mawr Postbac 2011
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Addie Goss

Human Interest Bridges Careers in Journalism and Medicine

Addiction, incarceration, workplace injuries, poverty, homelessness and dementia.

“I found myself gravitating toward and reporting on these stories of human suffering and social justice,” said Addie Goss, who completed Bryn Mawr’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical program in 2011.

Originally from Los Angeles, Goss attended Brown University and majored in science and society with the “very, very clear intent” of becoming a journalist for NPR. After a series of journalism internships, Goss graduated and found herself working for the media organization in Washington, D.C.

Her work as an intern, production assistant and freelance reporter for NPR took her all the way to Mali in West Africa. Working alongside two of her friends who were training in medicine and had founded a community health initiative called Project Muso, Goss covered stories about a malaria vaccine trial, overarching health system issues and U.S. politics and image in foreign countries.

One incident during Goss’ four months in West Africa planted the seed toward a career in medicine.

“A mother with a very ill toddler came to my house, basically in desperation to save her son,” Goss said. “He had been misdiagnosed with malaria several times, and she was asking for my help in arranging further medical care. My medical student friends were able to get him to a hospital, but it was too late – he died of typhoid fever just a few days later. Not having the skills or knowing what to do with the situation directly in front of me left me feeling helpless.”

Back in the U.S. and working for the NPR station Wyoming Public Radio, Goss was 23 years old, living somewhere totally new and traveling across the state to cover stories. It was during this time that Goss discovered a talent for intimately connecting with her subjects, getting those she interviewed to open up to her.

“But more and more, the stories that my colleagues thought were my best work – the stories that were the most emotionally impactful – were the ones that left me worrying about how my subjects felt when they heard it,” Goss said. “Maybe bringing the overall issue to light was more important than the discomfort of the person featured, but I wasn’t sure.”

After conversations with more than 30 people working in public health and interest professions, including the physicians in her own family, Goss decided it was those in the medical field who were most like her.

She sought out a postbac program she could complete in a year that had an excellent reputation. Bryn Mawr’s program became her top choice because it was  “appropriately hard and focused specifically on students like me.”

“Everything at Bryn Mawr felt intentional,” she said. “The course material, the pacing, the opportunities for teamwork – it was a trusted, proven process. It’s surprising even now how close we all are, given how intensely focused on ourselves we had to be during that one short year.”

Now a fourth year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania, Goss is looking at residencies that will allow for long-term relationships with patients where she is their primary provider.

“To me, medicine isn’t all that different from journalism,” she said. “It’s purpose-driven work within a community. I’ll get to talk with people and work through issues. Only now, I’ll have the training to directly help them.”


Erin Kiskis

Bryn Mawr Postbac 2012
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

From Google Marketing to Ophthalmology

Working for Google at the headquarters in Mountain View, Ca. To many undergraduate students, it’s their dream job

After graduating from Pomona College in Southern Ca., Erin Kiskis, who majored in international relations with a minor in economics, worked in investment banking before joining a consumer travel start-up company. She was with the company for one and a half years before Google acquired it.

Following the acquisition, Kiskis began working as an associate product marketing manager for the Google search engine, which included running marketing campaigns, managing social media and organizing other product managers. But a business trip to India made Kiskis re-think her career and make plans for a change.

As an undergraduate student, Kiskis spent time in Eastern Africa, studying economic development. Global issues and an international perspective became an important part of her life, and a draw to Africa an ever-present pull. However, during her sophomore year, Kiskis began having health issues, and she needed to focus on figuring out what was wrong.

“It took me six months to get a diagnosis, but finally, at 19 years old, I was told I had Hodgkin's lymphoma,” she said. “Twelve weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation, and to this day, I’m still taken aback by the amazing care I received during that time. They worked treatment around me, and I was able to stay in school and remain myself, despite having cancer.”

Fast forward to India, and Kiskis is meeting with fellow Google staffers at the company’s offices in Hyderabad. A sleek, modern glass building, limos transporting her and her colleagues to luxury resorts. Sightseeing. But Kiskis couldn't stop looking beyond the walls of her isolated cocoon, thinking about the local people she passed on the street and in traffic.

“Here we were talking about whether it was 1 billion or 2 billion people using Google, and I bet many of these people outside of the building were just wondering how they could get by and provide for their children,” Kiskis said. “I kept wondering, ‘if I lived here and had cancer, would I have gotten the same treatment?’”

Kiskis returned home and began researching postbaccalaureate premedical programs, ultimately choosing Bryn Mawr because of the one-year time frame, rigor and reputation of the program and linkages with some of the best medical schools in the country.

Now through her third year of medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, Kiskis plans to pursue a residency in ophthalmology with the eventual goal of working in academic medicine.

“There’s such a need for ophthalmology care in the developing world, but even more so, medical education,” she said. “It makes a lot of sense to me to use my training to research, teach other doctors and improve the circumstances and health of those existing outside the glass buildings.”


Aidan Tait M.D.

Bryn Mawr Postbac 2009
UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program

Rigor of Postbac Program Prepares Graduate for Pediatric Anesthesiology

“To me, the Bryn Mawr Postbac experience reinforces the message ‘You didn’t miss out on being a doctor. You can do this, and we will show you how,’” said Aidan Tait, who completed Bryn Mawr’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical program in 2009.

For Tait, she hadn’t taken a chemistry course since high school, and the rigor of the Bryn Mawr program still stands out as something that set her up to succeed in medical school. She credits the program with teaching her how to handle multiple demands on her time and balance stress and workload with life.

Now a 2015 graduate of a dual medical and master’s degree program at the University of California at San Francisco, Tait is a pediatrics and anesthesiology resident at Stanford University. Her path now is vastly different from just a few years ago.

A lifelong athlete from Oklahoma, Tait entered Harvard University as an undergraduate convinced she’d be a sports journalist and work for ESPN. It took one internship the following summer to make her reconsider and instead pursue her interests in politics, history and foreign languages.

“I declared my major in Latin American studies, and from there, I studied abroad in Costa Rica, Argentina and Brazil,” she said. “I taught English and worked on projects focusing on economic development, policy and social issues.”

It was the trip to Brazil before her senior year that Tait calls a “game changer” for her. While working for a nonprofit that prepares low-income youth for employment opportunities, Tait was confronted with the harsh realities of the children’s circumstances.

“Here we were in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, trying to teach children teamwork and perseverance, but we knew what they were facing at home – horrible accounts of substance abuse, physical and sexual abuse and serious illnesses within their families,” she said. “I had this profound realization that we can’t be successful with economic development unless we start with a healthy community. I was 22 years old and knew I needed to be a doctor, but I knew nothing beyond that.”

Tait returned to school and started searching for postbac programs. She found Bryn Mawr and was immediately set on attending – it had the best reputation, an excellent track record of medical school acceptance and an extremely personal and intense advising program.

Within her first month in the program, Tait met with a program adviser who encouraged her to look at UCSF because of a unique partnership the university had with UC Berkeley that would allow Tait to merge her interests in medicine and social sciences/public health through the dual medical and master’s program she ultimately ended up attending.

“The beauty of medicine and public health is that you can help an individual in such a direct and meaningful way but at the same time have the analytical capacity to understand the needs of a population,” Tait said.

Tait ultimately hopes to return to Brazil to work in a hospital setting, providing anesthesia care for children in low resource settings and helping to teach and train other medical care providers.

Nkemjika Ugonabo

Bryn Mawr Postbac 2012
University of Michigan Medical School

Nkem Ugonabo

Utilizing Linkage Program, Finding Balance at Bryn Mawr

According to Nkemjika Ugonabo, who completed Bryn Mawr’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical program in 2012, the year she spent at Bryn Mawr was academically challenging, rigorous and incredibly focused. But it wasn’t without balance.

Some of Ugonabo’s best and most impactful memories from her time in the program are when she was outside of the classroom, engaging in community and healthcare settings and bonding with her classmates.

As a volunteer with Community Volunteers in Medicine, a clinic in West Chester, Pa. that provides free medical care to low income families, Ugonabo would rush from her postbac classes to provide counseling and HIV testing to patients at the clinic.

She and another postbac student also organized a dinner at a local women and children’s shelter in honor of World Food Day. Ugonabo and 10 of her classmates cooked and served dinner to about 50 people at the shelter, showcasing foods and sharing music from various cultures while interacting with the women and children.

“It was being able to be involved in these experiences that helped me through the stressful times,” she said. “In the middle of classes, exams, the MCAT and application process, I could step outside of it and have this reminder of why I wanted all this in the first place.”

Originally from New York City, Ugonabo attended Stanford University as an undergraduate and majored in human biology with the intention of pursuing a career in public health and health management. After graduation, she lived in Chicago and worked in management consulting as a business analyst, a position that allowed her to evaluate business processes within healthcare systems, involving everything from philanthropy to the pharmaceutical industry.

But it was a four-week period she spent in Oaxaca in Southwestern Mexico the summer after her junior year at Stanford that had Ugonabo feeling that the medical provider path was more in line with her ultimate career goals.

“We were living with host families and volunteering at clinic and hospital settings, seeing firsthand the ethnic and cultural issues and problems with healthcare access this community faced,” she said. “I loved what I was doing in my job, but something kept drawing me back to my time in Mexico.”

Ugonabo began exploring a career in medicine, volunteering in health settings and speaking with mentors and professionals in the field. She contacted a staff member in admissions at Stanford University School of Medicine who had traveled with her on the service trip to Mexico. He talked her through the different paths someone could take to attend medical school and suggested she look into post baccalaureate programs like Byrn Mawr.

It was ultimately the one-year time frame, success rate of medical school acceptances and hearing from other students in the program that made Ugonabo choose to attend Bryn Mawr.

Now a fourth year medical student at the University of Michigan, Ugonabo utilized a linkage between the school and Bryn Mawr to go straight to medical school after completing the postbac program without taking a gap year during the application process.

“Going through the linkage program, you have to choose which medical school is best for you, study for and take the MCAT and go through the admissions application and interview process all while you are still in postbac classes,” she said. “But the advisers at Bryn Mawr are with you every step of the way, helping you juggle it all. They have a wealth of experience and work extremely hard to help you accomplish your goal of getting into medical school."