Going into their final year of high school, seniors have been asked many times “What do you want to do with your life?” Most haven’t the slightest clue, but one brave soul believes he has found his calling. The brave soul is Roman Zegarelli, and the calling is oral surgery.
As a young Catholic child, Roman desired to be a priest or bishop, mostly because the bishop had “the cool chair.” He would eventually drift away from a religious vocation and consider other careers. Roman considered psychiatry, but would switch to plastic surgery. However, this would eventually grow stale. Most recently Roman has invested much of his time looking into oral surgery. Why oral surgery? “It’s just the one I’ve been exposed to the most and I’ve found most interesting to watch,” he said.
Though it was just recently that Roman settled on a future occupation, he started working towards it long ago. In fourth grade Roman was chosen to move up a grade in math and science at St. Peter’s elementary school, which would give him the opportunity to take math and science at Prep in eighth grade. Once officially in high school his intellect would expand across the curriculum, placing him in AP math, science, history, and English. As a junior he was one of six in his class to earn a spot in the Gannon Scholars Program, and he’s currently continuing with the program as a senior. Aside from his rigorous courses, Roman stated that simply “going to Prep is a very big step in becoming something as prestigious as a surgeon.”
In an effort to further prepare for the future, Roman has shadowed and spoken with several Erie doctors. He enjoyed observing Dr. Alonge fit a tooth and remove a patient’s wisdom teeth, labeling it “amazing to watch.” He was also intrigued by the sleep studies that Dr. Reichel performed. Along with shadowing, Roman thought it would be a good idea to speak with doctors about majors and educational paths. He was particularly concerned with student debt, hoping that “instead of being eleven years in debt [he could] maybe be in ten years of debt.” It’s easy to see how debt could pile up, with undergrad, graduate school, and residency. Dr. Kolodychak stated that it took him 14 years to become a doctor. Dr.Kolodychak got his undergrad in chemistry, and as Roman understands it, there are many different options when it comes to undergrad majors. He’s even considering cosmology (the study of space). Dr. Yakish encouraged Roman to enjoy his college years, as opposed to just rushing through.
Roman has already checked out several colleges and has been impressed with John Carroll’s program, which pairs each student with their own advisor, and Gannon’s 3-4 program, which has students complete three years of undergrad at Gannon and four years of dental school at Case Western. Dr. Kolodychak believes oral surgery to be “the hardest dental specialty to get into and [requires] the strongest work ethic,” but Roman seems up to the challenge.