Student Spotlight - Meet Daniel Szvarca, a third year medical student
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your hometown and why you decided to pursue medical school.
I was born in Curitiba, Brazil and my family and I immigrated to the United States when I was 6 years old. At the time, my father got the opportunity of a lifetime to transfer to the US and without any friends or knowing any English, we moved to Florida. Needless to say, it was one of the most difficult and challenging times in my life. However, it truly made me the person I am today. After living in Boca Raton, Florida for many years, we once again relocated to Atlanta, Georgia while I was in high school. I then attended The University of Michigan before coming to medical school at GW. I want to become a physician because I witnessed firsthand the obstacles that millions face in obtaining proper healthcare, not only in countries around the world like Brazil, but also right here in the US. My experiences early in life with immigration gave me a unique perspective on the meaning of social responsibility and service to these communities that are far too often underserved. I feel privileged to have had opportunities in my life that allowed me to be in the position that I am today, and I believe that it is my responsibility to empower those from marginalized communities similar to where I am from by being the best possible physician I can be.
What brought you to GW?
To me, GW is one of the most unique medical schools in the country due to the fact that it is in the heart of Washington, D.C. I chose GW because I believe that becoming a physician is about much more than learning facts or making a diagnosis. I want to be a physician that not only helps patients on the clinical side, but also is actively involved in public policy as well as medical education.
Are there any special/memorable research or special projects you have participated in while at GW?
One of the best things about GW is the variety of opportunities that are afforded to us while in medical school. Since day one, faculty members have reached out to students offering to work with them on research and special projects. Personally, I had the privilege of working with both Dr. Norman Lee and Dr. Zhiyong Han on projects concerning developments in biochemical, oncological markers and dyslipidemias respectively. What struck me the most was how involved they were in student education. They not only valued furthering knowledge in a specific field, but also cared about equipping students with the tools to become revolutionary researchers.
In addition, one of my most treasured experiences at GW has been working with Dean Deyton and Dr. Bartholomew in the Students for Clinical Public Health group. Our mission is to enhance the clinical public health education of all GW students, as this is a crucial aspect of today’s healthcare professional. Words cannot express how thankful I am to these mentors and all of the other amazing faculty I have worked with while at GW.
What's been the most unexpected, surprising or challenging experience as a GW student?
It is surprising how much you grow and develop in such a short amount of time. Medical school is of course an intense, fast-paced experience and so at times it was hard to appreciate how much you are learning and evolving on a daily basis. However, looking back now, what most sticks out to me is how close I have become with all of the people I have met along my journey. From my fellow students, to my mentors in the hospital to the front desk staff, each and every relationship has played an integral role in my GW experience. One of my passions in life is the study of Positive Psychology and as one of my mentors used to famously say, “Other People Matter, Always.” This is a seemingly simple, yet extremely introspective concept that I use as a reminder that in life our relationships and the role we play in each other’s lives is often what is most important.
As you reflect on your time at GW, can you share a favorite Himmelfarb Library memory or experience you found to be the most useful?
During the first two years of medical school, going to Himmelfarb was like going to the mall or the movies while in high school. Everyone was there, and if you were not you were missing out. Some of my best memories of medial school were studying in the library the night before an exam listening to music, taking social walks around the rooms and enjoying the trendy offerings of Whole Foods. Whenever I needed help with anything I could always count on the amazing librarians for support, especially Gisela! Lastly, Paddy, one of the most vibrant personalities of the library, was always around to crack a joke on a stressful day. These are memories I will hold dear long after I graduate.
What are your future plans after GW?
Internal Medicine! I am very excited about all of the different avenues and opportunities that this field offers.
When you are not studying - What are your hobbies, interests or special things you like to do during your down-time?
Since I was little, I have always loved the outdoors. We are very lucky in the DMV area to have such beautiful parks, wineries, etc. that are so accessible and provide a welcome break from the commotion of downtown DC. Whenever I get a chance, I love to play soccer with my friends, go fishing, and when inside, squeeze in an episode or two of Impractical Jokers.