Tiffany Panko

Persistence is at the heart of what drives Tiffany Panko to succeed in medical school and in life.

The Webster, N.Y., native earned a bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies, with concentrations in Psychology and Premedical Studies, as well as an MBA at RIT. Before entering medical school, she also became a certified nurse assistant at BOCES #1. She now is in her second year of studies at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

“I really enjoy medicine because it combines hard science—biology, anatomy, etc.—with the soft science of caring for people,” she says. “While there are a lot of ways to help people, I really enjoy medicine. That’s what ignites my fire to do what I do, and it’s what has gotten me this far.”

Panko cites skilled interpreters who are a good fit for her needs and for the course content, and the use of transcription services in science lectures as keys to her success. Another key is advocacy.

“I learned to self-advocate early in my life,” she says. “I have very supportive parents who are great examples of what deaf people can accomplish. They worked hard to make sure that I had all the support services I needed in high school. I’m very fortunate that the University of Rochester Medical Center has a team of interpreters who make sure that my experience is as close to smooth as it can possibly be—it is still medical school, after all!”

The future Dr. Panko’s advice to others reflects the way she lives: “Be persistent! If you know you want something, don’t stop chasing your dreams. Volunteer along the way—for things both related and unrelated to your career goals—to make sure you want to pursue medicine and to show the applications committee that you know what you want, and also to give back to the community!”

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

More Success Stories

Portrait of Shavone Moncrieffe
Be yourself and live life to the fullest,” is a motto Shavone Moncrieffe strives to follow every day.
Shareef Ali in glasses and a blue shirt
A job with VTCSecure, an international provider of telecommunications access, awaits Shareef after graduation.
Viet Q. Le
Viet Q. Le is a faculty member in NTID’s Science and Mathematics Department.
Joseph Hill
Joseph Hill is a faculty member in NTID’s American Sign Language and Interpreting Education Department.
Laural Hartman
Laural Hartman is a lecturer in NTID’s Visual Communications Studies Department, teaching core courses such as Drawing and Principles of Design and Color.
Jason Nordhaus
Nordhaus is a core faculty member in RIT’s Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation in the School of Mathematical Sciences, and a professor in the astrophysics Ph.D. program in RIT’s School of Physics and Astronomy.
Alesia Allen
Visiting Assistant Professor in NTID’s Department of Liberal Studies, Allen teaches introductory courses in psychology and abnormal psychology.
Jonathan Roman
At RIT, Roman found his purpose — to bridge the gap and connect the hearing and the deaf worlds.
Susana Flores
Flores, the only deaf person in her family and the first to go to college, is planning to be the curator of an art gallery one day.
Kelly Jo Hilleshiem
The NBA Indiana Pacers’ dance team wanted her, but Hilleshiem chose RIT/NTID instead.
Christopher Caulfield
Christopher chose RIT to pursue the web and mobile computing program, and to meet successful deaf role models that he never had encountered back home.
Alesia Allen
Visiting Assistant Professor in NTID’s Department of Liberal Studies, Allen teaches introductory courses in psychology and abnormal psychology.
Jason Nordhaus
Jason Nordhaus joined the faculty in NTID’s Science and Mathematics Department as an assistant professor and theoretical astrophysicist.
Portrait of Talila Lewis
A desire to work with young people and involve them in social justice advocacy brought Lewis to RIT/NTID.
Mary Rose Weber
Weber’s favorite quote is from Albert Einstein: “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Simmons, 22, from Pickering, Ohio, is a fourth-year Packaging Science major who plans to graduate in May.
RIT’s variety of support services was important to this Mechanical Engineering Technology major.
This NTID Presidential Scholarship recipient works hard, but still finds time to play.