1. Cathy Chen, 23, of Oxford is fascinated with the intricate anatomy of the hand. A Barksdale Scholar, she is committed to helping those who are overlooked and underserved. Before entering medical school, she majored in chemical and biological engineering at Princeton University. Taking Gross Anatomy, she says, is “really humbling. Can you believe that everything just connects and there [was] a living, functional person? There’s so much that could go wrong but when we open him up there it all is. … It makes life seem like a miracle.” Her family includes a younger sister, a father who is the chief technology officer for a mortgage technology company and a mom who serves on the executive board of directors for the United Way in Lafayette County. They are all interested in hearing about her Gross Anatomy experience, she says. “I think most people would be interested – death is in everyone’s future, and it’s natural to wonder.”
2. Kate Garner, 25, of Natchez has a bachelor’s in radiologic sciences and worked as an X-ray technician at UMMC before medical school. She and her two siblings, a brother and sister (a nurse), are first-generation college students. Along with Colton Lee, she provides much of the comic relief at Table 25. “It’s always important to remember that the cadaver was a person and many people loved them and we’re respectful of that,” she says. “But I also have a wonderful lab group and we’ve become such good friends. I don’t think I could have made it through this experience without them. We pretty much know everything about each other now and we talk about anything and everything while dissecting.” She tries not to come across as soft-hearted, but inside her lab coat pocket she keeps a note Colton sent her to keep up her spirits.
3. Colton Lee, 22, of Poplarville says his parents sacrificed a lot for his education. The brother of a physician’s assistant, he cannot imagine being anything but a doctor. “I wish I could say that I watched Patch Adams when I was 7 and the rest was history,” he says. “My choice to pursue medicine is the summation of my life. I was raised on a farm and have doctored animals for 20 years, my parents taught me to be my brother’s keeper, and I dealt with an autoimmune disorder that nearly wrecked my vision as an undergraduate student. Any one of these reasons is enough to want to practice medicine, but they are only three of a thousand small influences.”
4. Brent Necaise, 34, of the Kiln in Hancock County is the “old man” of Table 25. Before medical school, he held management jobs in the banking and restaurant businesses. He earned a Bachelor’s of Philosophy, graduated from seminary and studied in Belgium on a DeRance Scholarship at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. He was almost a Catholic priest. While working on a bachelor’s in biology, one of his professors, Jill Arnold, sparked his fascination with bacteria and infection. Gross Anatomy, he says, “is extremely stressful, and I know that I can depend on my teammates for help studying, with the dissection itself, or if I just need a laugh or a smile.”
5. Rachel Sharp, 22, of Sturgis begged her parents for a Dr.
Barbie and a “real” stethoscope when she was a kid. As she matured, she worked
concessions for the Winston County Youth Association, as an instructor for the
Forest High School Color Guard, as assistant/receptionist in Starkville at the
Research and Curriculum Unit and as a server at a Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt.
But her path never strayed from her destination: medical school. Her experience
in Gross Anatomy has made her think hard about what will become of her body
after death. As an organ donor, she would save as many lives as she has organs.
But as a body donor in the anatomy lab, “I’ll be training six doctors who’ll
save countless lives.”
6. Kim Zachow, 24, of Jackson, is the daughter of Dr. Steven Zachow, a radiation oncologist. She was earning her B.S. in physics as a junior at Birmingham Southern College when she decided on medicine as a career. “I loved the combination of problem-solving and getting to interact with people (a component decidedly missing from upper level theoretical physics, which I was terrible at anyway),” she says. Reflecting on her experience in Gross Anatomy, she says, “Someone gave up the control they have over their bodies after death so you could have an opportunity to learn. That part stays with you forever.”
7. Gary Pettus, 59, of Pascagoula never tried to get into medical school, and it’s just as well for everyone concerned. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. He worked for nearly 37 years combined as a reporter and/or photographer for The Clarion-Ledger and The Hattiesburg American, after working briefly for The Mississippi Press and Gautier Independent. In 2012, he joined UMMC. In writing this article, his original intent was to describe Gross Anatomy through the eyes of these students, but, because of their kindness, became part of the experience as well. There are many sights he’ll never forget, but, most of all, he’ll remember Brent, Cathy, Colton, Kate, Kim and Rachel.