EMT on the Path to Neurosurgery

Tyla Risucci ’21, a double major in biology and chemistry, can pinpoint the exact moment she wanted to become a physician. 

She was studying abroad in Pavia, Italy, having received an Atlantis Fellowship for intellectually adventurous premedical students. Over winter break as a sophomore, Tyla shadowed doctors on the internal medicine unit at Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, a hospital located south of Milan.

“Watching a surgeon as he performed a cochlear implant was the defining moment for me,” said the Watertown, CT, resident. “It really gives you a rush being able to help people like that.”

Tyla chose Elms for its strong premedical program for biology majors. “I have great bonds with all of my professors,” she said.

At Elms, Tyla focused on growing her leadership skills in and out of the classroom. As a teaching assistant (TA) for undergraduate biology classes, she supported professors by preparing materials for experiments, an experience that reinforced her understanding of biochemistry fundamentals. She also worked as a science tutor in the Center for Student Success, helping her peers break down complex topics in human anatomy, chemistry, and genetics.

“The sciences come naturally to me,” said Tyla. “Through the years here, I’ve grown to be more confident in myself. I learned to follow my own path and not to worry about what others think about it.”

To strengthen her applications to medical school, Tyla began volunteering as an EMT during the summer of her junior year, working for twelve hours every week in the Plymouth, Connecticut area. Working in a fast-paced medical environment was hugely beneficial, she said, because it amplified her love of patient care.

“The most beneficial class I’ve taken is most likely genetics,” Tyla said, “because it sets a baseline for many other biology classes.”

“Being able to save lives really motivates me.”

While Tyla is considering several career paths within medicine, her interest in neurosurgery is guiding her decision-making process for now.

“In order to cure diseases or develop technological advances, it’s important to have a solid understanding of science,” she said. “Neurology is my favorite subject, so I would like to do something within that field.”

Student Athlete

Tyla played three seasons as an outfielder for the Elms softball team. While her senior year season is still up in the air due to COVID-19 restrictions, she intends to complete a fourth season for the Blazers if possible.

Tyla originally learned of Elms after her sister—who works as a softball umpire—recommended its athletics programs.

“Playing softball is a way to take my mind off of academics and to focus on something else, which is a stress reliever,” Tyla said. “My coach is super helpful with managing academics, practices and games.”