“The program is literally an experiment,” says the Macaulay Honors College student and anthropology major, a resident of Forest Hills. “They wanted to see if students with no pre-med background can go to medical school and perform just as well as students who are entrenched in the sciences during college.
“I told them I want to do public health abroad,” says Copeli, who already has significant international experience. A Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship allowed him to travel this past summer to Russia, where he worked at St. Petersburg State University. A proficient Russian speaker raised in a Bukharian family, Copeli served as an English teacher and did translation work. Previously, the Honors College afforded him the opportunity to travel to Peru, where he taught English at a remote orphanage in San Miguel and mastered another language: Spanish.
Internships made possible by the receipt of a Jeanette K. Watson Fellowship in his sophomore year may reveal more about why Mount Sinai saw Copeli’s potential as a humanities-oriented physician. In his first assignment, he interned with Global Kids, an organization that prepares urban youth for global citizenship. He maintained NewzCrew.org, Global Kids’s Web site that promotes media literacy and political dialogue among young people worldwide. His next internship found him at DonorsChoose, an organization that brings together donors with projects to improve public education.
Queens College is a family tradition for Copeli, whose twin brother Erik is also a QC student. His brother, Frank, graduated last year, while another brother, Joseph, attended during summer 2001. Copeli’s own education prior to QC was at Hebrew Academy of West Queens in Richmond Hill. Like many Macaulay Honors College students, he had been offered full scholarships to a number of private schools, but family obligations kept him closer to home. “I needed to work and help support the family,” he says. “I’ve been working since age 13 or 14. I’ve been a stock boy at a pharmacy. I’ve been a tutor for a subsidiary of Kaplan. I’ve done private tutoring jobs. I teach swimming. I lifeguard.” A Queens College Foundation Scholarship has also been helpful.
Despite his many commitments, Copeli still managed to do volunteer work for a nursing home, a soup kitchen, and the Coalition for the Homeless.
Having already satisfied the course requirements for the Mount Sinai program, Copeli is indulging his humanities inclinations in his last semesters. “I’m doing music: I’m in the choir and the guitar ensemble. I’m also doing acting and drawing.”
Typically, Watson Fellows spend their last summer abroad. Copeli is thinking of working in Brazil, but first has to learn Portuguese. Characteristically unfazed, he remarks, “It’s decently easy if you know some Spanish.”
Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY) is dedicated to the idea that a first-rate education should be accessible to talented individuals of all backgrounds and financial means. Its more than 18,000 students come from over 140 nations and speak scores of languages, creating an extraordinarily diverse and welcoming environment. Founded in 1937, the college offers an exceptional liberal arts curriculum, with over 115 undergraduate and graduate majors and a variety of specialized honors programs. Located on a beautiful, 77-acre campus in Flushing, Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. Queens College is also highly rated by leading guidebooks—for example, it was named one of the nation's 25 "hottest" and "most interesting" colleges by the 2008 Kaplan/Newsweek How to Get Into College guide and is consistently included in the Princeton Review America's Best Value Colleges and in The Best 361 Colleges.