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  May 12, 2003

Aspiring Medical Student Drawn
To Health Care Politics

A childhood dream is now being paired with a new one for graduating student Salvatore "Sal" Docimo.

His old dream: to practice medicine as a surgeon in his home town.

Class of '03
Image: Salvatore Docimo

Salvatore Docim

Photo by Melissa Arbo

His new dream: to be engaged in health care politics as well.

"A lot of people view medicine like a new car," says Docimo. "If you have money, you own a better car. I view the health care system much like freedom of speech: It should be guaranteed."

One of two senior class representatives, Docimo will deliver brief remarks during the morning graduation ceremonies on May 17.

One of the top graduates of his class, he will receive a bachelor of science in business, with a major in marketing and a background in biological sciences.

Docimo is used to being a top student. He graduated as valedictorian from West Hill High School in Stamford, out of a class of some 300 students.

His decision to come to UConn had to do with family tradition. "I've always wanted to attend UConn," he says. "My brother Frank graduated in 1999 from UConn as an accounting major, and most of my cousins also graduated from here. It's where I always wanted to be."

But there was an added not-so-sentimental reason, too, for the aspiring medical student.

"As a Connecticut resident, the quality of education we receive at UConn for the cost is unbeatable," he says. "This is especially important to students who know they'll be attending graduate school."

After five years on campus, Docimo is not short of advice for other students.

During a recent talk, he told a group of pre-medical students, "You need to be determined and self-sufficient, learn time management, not lose heart, and be persistent in your experience."

It's advice that has worked for him, especially during stressful periods.

"UConn is so large that you really have to learn to be self-sufficient and to learn on your own," he says. "Your own determination has to lead you."

He also credits supportive parents, friends, and particular faculty members.

During the past few weeks, Docimo has devoted his time to preparing for the MCATs, the medical school admissions test. Come the fall, he'll be applying to several medical schools, including the UConn School of Medicine.

Before entering medical school, however, Docimo will venture into the politics of medicine, with a joint research project on the U.S. health care system with Narasimhan Srinivasan, an associate professor of marketing and his honors advisor.

Srinivasan helped Docimo when he was writing a senior thesis comparing the U.S. health care system to Canada's universal system. The new research will concentrate on opinions, knowledge, and ideas for solutions to problems in the current U.S. system.

Docimo's added goal: a master's degree in public health along the way.

But for the upcoming summer, he plans to take some time off before embarking on further studies. "It's been a long road," he says.