American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine is proud to announce that Kalpana Gopalswamy has been elected Class of 2014 co-Valedictorian.

Born in India, her family emigrated to the U.S. when she was only a year old. She has always been interested in science because her parents are both heavily involved in the field: her Mom, Suseela, is a computer programmer and her Dad, Nat, is an astrophysicist. “My determination and drive come from seeing how hard my parents worked for their children,” said Gopalswamy, “I want to mirror their example.

After graduating from the University of Maryland with a B.S. in Biology, she became a neuro-diagnostic technician, which enabled her to work with neurologists as they diagnosed neurological conditions. She decided to apply to medical school after seeing first-hand how these doctors could build a strong bond with their patients. “Doctors may see ten to twenty patients a day but, to that one person, you’re making a difference in his or her life and changing it for the better,” said Gopalswamy.

She describes her first semester at AUA as exciting and challenging. She developed a time-management strategy and made sure to spend time mastering the concepts she learned from her textbooks. Much of her enjoyment, though, came from the great relationships she developed with her professors. “My professors were receptive to student feedback and always available answer questions and provide guidance,” said Gopalswamy.

Though she enjoyed her time on campus, she found clinical rotations to be the most fulfilling experience.  They  allowed her to apply the concepts she so diligently studied and offered her first opportunity to interact with patients in a meaningful way. At one clinical site, she had to work with patients that predominantly spoke Spanish. Fortunately, she is fluent in the language and was regularly relied upon by physicians, attendings, and residents. “It was more than just translating,” said Gopalswamy. “I made a connection with each patient and made them feel comfortable by divulging information in their own language.”

Recently, she matched into an internal medicine residency at UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Upon completion of the program, she hopes to get involved in academic medicine. During her Basic Sciences, she was a Biochemistry TA and fell in love with helping her fellow students succeed. “It’s important to share the knowledge you receive,” said Gopalswamy.

After hearing she was selected as co-valedictorian, she was ecstatic. She thanks her parents and her sister, Shobana, and brother-in-law, Arazind, for all the support they gave her over the past four years. She also thanks her professors and colleagues, many of whom secured prestigious residencies. “Everyone worked so hard to get to this point,” said Gopalswamy. “We have a very strong class and I’m honored to represent them.”