Finding the Fusion of Art and Science

Story by Megan Myers

, a December graduate from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) biomedical sciences (BIMS) master’s program, has always wanted to be a doctor.

While growing up in New Jersey, Golden developed a love for dance, theater, and the arts, and so he decided to combine all of his passions during his undergraduate education at Rutgers University by majoring in Spanish and double minoring in biology and dance.

“I originally got into the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, but after talking to the health professions office, they said, ‘You don’t have to be a science major to go to medical school,’” he recalled. “I wanted to do the dance minor because I have always done artistic endeavors and a lot of theater, so I thought that this would be a good break in between my science classes.”

At Rutgers, the connection between art and medicine was reinforced as Golden participated in a research project on dance therapy and Parkinson’s disease at Rutgers’ Aresty Research Center.

“Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive illness that there’s no cure for and the disease involves a loss of motor function over time,” Golden said. “Some research has shown that if someone with Parkinson’s increases their movement repertoire, it might slow down the progression of the disease.”

Working with certified movement specialists who were trained through the Mark Morris Dance Group in New York, Golden saw first-hand the benefits that the therapy offered.

“Not all of the people who come into these therapy sessions had Parkinson’s disease; their caretaker or their spouse would come with them,” he said. “Everyone danced together and you didn’t even know at that point who had Parkinson’s and who didn’t. It was a good atmosphere, the therapy worked, people were happy, and it improved quality of life.”

After graduating from Rutgers, Golden decided to take a year off from school to gain experience as a medical scribe. When his family moved to Austin, he followed and began working at the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Round Rock.

“A scribe goes into the clinical appointments with the physician and types the medical note that is going to be kept on file for the patient,” Golden said. “The doctor and the patient can have more one-on-one time and the doctor doesn’t have to really worry about taking the notes.

“I learned everything from the legalities of taking a medical note, to how a physician should interact with a patient, to all the vocabulary and linguistics that are necessary—the specialized language of medicine,” he said.

During his gap year, Golden applied to medical school but didn’t get in, leading him to examine his application for any shortcomings. Deciding that he needed to raise his science GPA, he began looking for a master’s program to help him accomplish that.

“I looked at a lot of programs in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania,” Golden said. “I got into every program I applied to.

“The BIMS program at Texas A&M was the only one I applied to in Texas. I was a little unsure about it, but then after looking into it, that changed,” he said. “After orientation and talking to a couple of people, I knew this program would provide me with the resources I needed to reapply and be successful.”

Luckily, the BIMS master’s program proved to be the perfect fit for Golden.

“It was really nice to learn about all of the ‘-ologies’ from a broader spectrum,” he said. “There’s a lot of comparative anatomy in this program, since it’s at the veterinary school. You get a more well-rounded view of things that could exist in the animal kingdom and then how you can extrapolate that into human medicine.

“The faculty and staff are amazing; they’re very supportive and helpful,” he said. “They host everything from social to academic to networking events. It really allows you to make of it what you want it to be. You just have to take the initiative, but they supply you with all the tools.”

When it came time to begin applying for medical school again, Golden was pleased to receive an interview invitation for the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio and then an acceptance only three weeks later.

“I think the most important part of applying to a professional school is getting the interview,” Golden said. “Getting the GPA and the admission test score is up to the individual and essentially what admissions committees use to screen applicants, but the interview is what decides if you’re going or not. It’s what sets you apart from other people and I think that this particular master’s program helps you get that interview.”

Golden plans to pursue a career in osteopathic medicine, which he describes as a holistic approach to medicine that focuses on treating the patient rather than the disease.

“I feel like my personality and my belief system align more with an osteopathic physician,” he said. “I’ve always been an artsy person, so I felt like I never really fit in with more of a typical, 100-percent scientific crowd.

“One of the tenants of osteopathic practice is that disease and pathology arise from a musculoskeletal disorder,” he said. “So, they do these adjustments, manipulations, or massages in certain areas of the body to prevent further injury or harm. I grew up doing competitive gymnastics, so I’ve always done a lot of things with my body, in terms of manipulation and exercise and the musculoskeletal system, so I appreciate that aspect of it.”

He ultimately plans to specialize as an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN), a career he fell in love with after shadowing his cousin and her husband, both OB-GYNs in New Jersey.

“I think a female population is one that I, as a gay male, would be able to interact with and be received well by the patient,” Golden said. “I think women’s health, in general, is a field that lacks male support, so it’d be nice to have another male advocate out there helping women in this.

“Also, I feel like since I’m not going to be able to have kids the traditional way, I’m going to have to look into IVF (in-vitro fertilization) and other non-traditional methods of having children, like surrogacy and adoption.”

Though his path to medical school may not have gone exactly as planned, Golden is thankful for the experiences he has gained along the way and excited to finally begin his medical program.

“I’m ready to start my career,” he said. “I’m just excited to actually begin learning, so I can practice. I’ve been dreaming about being a doctor forever.”

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Interim Director of Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216

Biomedical Sciences Student Selected as Gathright Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior of the Year

Story by Dorian Martin

Demonta Coleman with his awards in Rudder plaza
Demonta Coleman

As the first in his family to attend college, Demonta Coleman already is a trailblazer.

Coleman, who is a Texas A&M University biomedical sciences (BIMS) major, has climbed to new heights over the past three years. Most recently, he was selected to receive the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Gathright Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior Award and Texas A&M University’s Gathright Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior of the Year.

Phi Kappa Phi (PKP), a multi-disciplinary honor society, annually recognizes the outstanding junior selected from each Texas A&M college. The recognition is presented in a collaboration between The Association of Former Students, LAUNCH: Academic Excellence, and Texas A&M’s PKP chapter. Selection criteria for this honor includes the student’s academic record, research and/or creative production, community engagement, and accomplishments/awards.

In addition, each of these outstanding juniors is considered for the Texas A&M Gathright Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior for the Year. This award is highly valued when students apply for national academic awards programs such as the Rhodes Scholars or Fulbright Scholars.

“The Gathright Outstanding Junior is selected from all of the juniors of their college, so it is not surprising that choosing between them to select the Texas A&M Outstanding Junior is a difficult task. All of our 2019 Gathright Outstanding Juniors have outstanding academic records, impressive resumes, and all gave strong interviews,” said Dr. Jonathan Kotinek, director of Texas A&M’s LAUNCH: Honors. “Demonta Coleman was selected because of the impressive breadth and quality of his activities, which include research and extensive service, as well as his strong interview responses related to his career plans in medicine and pursuing life-long learning.”

The award highlights how far Coleman has come in such a short period of time.

“Applying for college, in general, was hard because I didn’t know much about college to begin with,” the Lufkin native said. “My interest in Texas A&M was based on seeing many people around my hometown wearing A&M apparel, so I thought it must be a good school.”

Coleman’s desire to become a scientist and his top grades in school meant that he was a perfect match for Texas A&M. He hasn’t been disappointed.

Dr. Elizabeth Crouch and Demonta Coleman with his award
Dr. Elizabeth Crouch and Demonta Coleman

“It’s a really welcoming atmosphere. I’ve always felt like I’m part of something bigger than myself,” he said. “There are a ton of resources on campus and a lot of professors show that they care about your success.”

Coleman is particularly interested in organic chemistry and is participating in the Aggie Research Scholars program for undergraduate students. His research is focused on cancer.

“CD44, a transmembrane receptor, is overly produced in embryonic stem cells, and studies show this overproduction is directly linked so various forms of cancer. CD44 is activated when specific natural molecules bind, leading to increased growth and survival of cancerous cells,” Coleman said.

“Our research goal is to test whether this receptor can be blocked by the non-natural amino acid, boronophenylalanine, so that the growth promoting molecules cannot bind,” he said. “This will be achieved through the incorporation of this amino acid onto a protein on the surface of a phage, which is a small bacterial virus, and exposure of this phage to the CD44. Phage display of the non-natural amino allows for the rapid production of potential peptide sequences whose binding properties for CD44 can be quantified.”

Coleman, who is also a Regents Scholar, has been involved in a variety of service efforts across campus. He’s a mentor in the Foundations of Continued Undergraduate Success (FOCUS) Learning Community through Texas A&M’s Office for Student Success. In that role, Coleman works with three other mentors to assist incoming freshmen, many of whom are first-generation students like himself, as they transition into college. He also serves as a tutor through Texas A&M’s Academic Success Center’s TutorHub.

His professors believe Coleman will have a strong professional career ahead of him.

“Demonta is an outstanding student with many options before him. He has significant research experience, is a peer mentor and tutor, and excellent academician,” said Dr. Elizabeth Crouch, CVM’s associate dean for undergraduate education, who nominated Coleman for the college-level award.  “What most stands out when you speak with him is his enthusiasm for learning and his excitement about his future. And, truly, he is a student who has excelled and will continue to excel in all his future endeavors.”

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Interim Director of CVM Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216

Honoring Michelle

Inspired by her late daughter-in-law’s lifetime of generosity, Linda Holsey has endowed the Michelle Lynn Holsey Scholarship in Biomedical Sciences to provide financial assistance to a student who plans to pursue a medical degree. 

 

Michelle Lynn Holsey and her family

When Michelle Lynn Holsey was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in 2003, she told her family that she wouldn’t let the disease stop her from helping others.

Her family recalls their days traveling from Crockett to Houston’s M.D. Anderson and how Michelle would always stop to talk to people in the waiting room. She had an especially soft heart for the parents of small children who were also going through their own cancer battles or those who had to miss weeks of work to receive care.

Michelle always went out of her way to strike up conversations and form lasting relationships with the people she met. They’d begin their treatments as strangers, but Michelle easily earned their friendship.

After numerous surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments—including traveling to Germany for an innovative treatment—her cancer persisted and, sadly, in 2006, Michelle passed away.

“Throughout the entire process, Michelle maintained an attitude of confidence and fought a valiant battle the same way she lived her life with faith, hope, and dignity,” said Linda Holsey, Michelle’s mother-in-law.

Inspired by Michelle’s lifetime of generosity, her family was determined to continue her legacy and ensure that her giving spirit lives on, establishing the Michelle Lynn Holsey Foundation shortly after her passing to assist those battling cancer and other debilitating diseases, while funding innovative treatments and supporting education.

“The foundation has monthly grant meetings at which time qualifying grant applicants are awarded funds to meet their needs, and yearly scholarships are given to graduating seniors in both Houston and Brazos Counties,” Linda said. “The foundation continues to grow and help those in need with the help of various yearly fundraisers and the generosity of the community and friends across the nation.

“Our largest fundraiser is the annual five-day National Cutting Horse Association-sanctioned event held the first week of October, currently at the Brazos County Expo Center, with a steak dinner, live and silent auctions, and a concert on Saturday night of the cutting week,” she said.

Because of Michelle’s experience with some very hardworking doctors, Linda decided to honor Michelle in her own way, by establishing an endowed scholarship in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) undergraduate program to help a future medical student.

Giving to Texas A&M is also special to the family because two of Michelle’s daughters—Hannah Lynn Holsey Craycraft and Holly Ann Holsey, as well as son-in-law Clint Craycraft—are Aggie graduates.

“Michelle gave unconditional love and loyalty to everyone she met. She was a source of wisdom, an exemplary role model, a loving mother and wife, and a tireless volunteer to many causes. She unknowingly blessed everyone she came in contact with simply by being herself,” Linda said. “I wanted to create this scholarship to help soon-to-be medical students pay for their education and get off on the right track.”

The BIMS program in the CVM is one of the largest degree-granting majors at Texas A&M, and students in the program explore many aspects of applied biology related to health and disease. Students in the program frequently go on to careers or post-secondary education in fields like medicine, veterinary medicine, or dentistry.

The Michelle Lynn Holsey Scholarship in Biomedical Sciences is one of 12 endowed scholarships in the program.

“The Biomedical Sciences program is very thankful to the family of Michelle Lynn Holsey for this scholarship. Her story is inspirational and many of our students decide to pursue medicine because of patients such as Michelle,” said Dr. Elizabeth Crouch, CVM associate dean for undergraduate education. “The award to be made in her name will assist an undergraduate who has many years of education for which to pay and, when they hear her story, I know they will be further motivated to work hard and succeed both academically and professionally.”

Because the scholarship is endowed, it will provide annual awards to aspiring medical students in perpetuity. The scholarship will be awarded to its first recipient in the fall of 2019.

 

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Interim Director of CVM Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216