Student Spotlight: Russell Horgos, Premed/MPAS
When it comes to earning a bachelor’s degree, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Before transferring into the dual Bachelor of Science in Premedical and Health Studies/Master of Physician Assistant Studies (BS/MPAs) program, Russell Horgos attended community college to begin working towards his dream degree.
When it comes to earning a bachelor’s degree, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. While multitudes of students across the country choose to enroll in a four-year university immediately after high-school graduation, many students find that attending community college first better aligns with their current circumstance, future career plans, or both. No matter the motivation for attending community college, numerous students enroll with the plan to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program when they are ready.
When Russell Horgos, a student in our Bachelor of Science in Premedical and Health Studies/Master of Physician Assistant Studies (BS/MPAS) pathway program, was in high school, he wasn’t sure that college was his path and didn’t initially apply to any schools. Once he realized what he wanted to pursue as a career, community college was a great way to acclimate with school again and begin to work towards his dream degree. “Enrolling in community college was more of a ‘prove it’ scenario for me. I finally was able to get things situated enough in life to start, but it had been a while since the last time I was in school. I made a deal with myself – commit, do the best you can, and go from there. After my first semester, I knew right away I wanted to transfer to a four-year school with PA school being the ultimate goal.”
Russell recently caught up with us to talk about his experience transferring from community college to MCPHS, and share his advice for those who are interested in doing the same.
Why did you choose to transfer to MCPHS?
As a student that knew exactly what I wanted to do after finishing school, MCPHS gave me the best opportunity to get there. I researched many schools and for me, it was a no brainer after researching MCPHS. Being a non-traditional student, the location of the school and the professional design of the course work was a perfect fit. As someone whose goal and dream is to become a PA, I did not come across a better program for me than the PA Pathway at MCPHS.
Tell us about your experience transferring.
The transfer process was quick and seamless. I was always able to get in contact with anyone I needed whether by phone, email, or in person. My transfer credits were discussed, questions were always answered, and I never felt like I was being overzealous with the amount of information I was seeking. As a single father, doing full-time consulting work for a healthcare company in Fall River, MA, as well as working as an EMT on the weekends, I was very appreciative of this. It has always been very important for me to know what I am getting into, whether it be course load or financial, and I was extremely satisfied with all of the help during the transfer process.
What advice would you give a student going through the process of transferring from a community college?
Each school is unique, whether it comes to student life or curriculum, so do your homework. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek information. The biggest thing is to trust yourself and your abilities, and then just have fun. Getting the right education can be just as fun as it is rewarding because you get the chance to set your life up for success.
Which resources did you use to help with the transfer process?
I was on the MCPHS website almost every day, constantly going over the curriculum for the pathway I wanted to enter. The website is extremely informative when it comes to what documents and information you need as a transfer student. You also have the opportunity to explore all of the programs in-depth, which really helps in the decision-making process. I met with advising many times to hash out all the details about transfer credits, and I spoke with student financial services quite often as well to get a good idea of what the cost was going to be and what aid I may have been eligible for.
What would you tell a student who believes transferring is too difficult or time-consuming?
I would say that it is actually quite easy. As long as you’re willing to use the resources available, you will have plenty of guidance from people that know what they are doing. During my experience, I never met someone that was unwilling to help, or answer questions.
I find that having a process helps with everything. Get your transcript requests done early, and follow up with the school to make sure they were received. Figure out which classes will transfer, then finish the application. Set up a meeting with advising and go over all the fine detail that you might have questions about. The biggest thing is not trying to do it all at once, and allowing yourself to take your time.
Why do you want a career in healthcare?
I have always been fascinated by the human body. As a teenager, I grew a strong passion for fitness and nutrition. I bought the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing at GNC, and I was overtaken with that “need to know everything” mentality. From there, I became amazed with the biochemistry of amino acids, antioxidants, hormones, and neurotransmitters. I researched and studied topics like heart disease and metabolic disease just about every day of my life. I’ve always wanted to be able to help people achieve optimal health because, to me, having optimal health will set anyone up for success in their life. I also believe that I am highly relatable, enjoy talking to people from all different backgrounds, and feel like I will be able to impact people’s lives in a positive way by working in healthcare.
What is it like to attend a university where the entire student population is pursuing a career in healthcare?
Attending a university where all of the students are focused on the same thing is very rewarding. Though the degree path and future career may be different, the overall goal to work in healthcare is the same. Having the chance to immerse yourself in something you know you want to do is unlike most schools I have been in, or have researched. You get the feeling that you are going to accomplish your goals at a place like this.
How do you collaborate with students in other professional programs and tracks at MCPHS?
At MCPHS, you will have a PA pathway student, a physical therapy pathway student, and a pharmacy pathway student all in the same class. This allows you to study with people that may approach an aspect of health differently than you do, and learn a different approach to healthcare you may want to incorporate into your future. It brings a dynamic that you won’t really find at other schools, which you can really use to your advantage.
What do you enjoy most about attending a university located in Boston?
Growing up in and around Boston, attending school in my home is great. It’s a great location and Boston is the hub of the medical world. There might be no better place to immerse yourself in healthcare than Boston, and the city itself is vibrant. There’s always something to do, it’s very easy to get around, there are colleges on every corner, and incredible job opportunities to intern at, or apply to after school. Let’s not forget that this is also the city of champions, so if you like sports then it is the place to be. The winters can be rough in the city, but it builds character!
What do you enjoy most about your time at MCPHS? Why would you recommend it?
The professionalism of the university is what I enjoy most. It requires hard work and dedication to do well, but you will be rewarded with great training for your future in healthcare. If you know what you want to do in life and it’s in healthcare, MCPHS is one of the best options out there.
What is the most valuable lesson or piece of information you’ve picked up over the course of your time at MCPHS?
I feel like I’ve always had a strong work ethic, but it has definitely been revamped, and retooled while attending MCPHS. I have quite a few commitments and responsibilities outside of school, but the coursework isn’t going to change because of this. Therefore, a major lesson I have learned is to treat your studies for exactly what they are – training for your future.
What are your future career aspirations, and how will you leverage your education experience to achieve these professional goals?
My future career aspiration is to work as a PA in cardiology. I am eager to be on the front lines when we discover the next breakthrough for heart disease and metabolic disease. It is my hope I will be able to contribute to this in some way, and I am confident that I will get there with the education I am receiving. Having the opportunity to finish out my undergraduate education, and then apply to PA school with the same school I have grown as a student and person is not something everyone is lucky enough to experience. MCPHS has offered me an opportunity to achieve my goals that I don’t think I would have found elsewhere, and for that I am grateful.
Learn more about MCPHS's Bachelor of Science in Premedical and Health Studies: Physician Assistant Studies Pathway (BS/MPAS) program.