Kevin standing at a lectern

Alumni News  |  Long Read

Alumnus shares experience

Offers advice to pre-med students

by Angela Daidone  |  Winter 2021

Kevin Manz ’13, Ph.D., a Fair Lawn, N.J., native, is currently completing his medical studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is participating in an accelerated M.D./Ph.D. program in pursuit of practicing medicine and running a research lab. At the request of Ramapo Professor of Biology Rena Bacon, Manz, who graduated with a degree in psychology, met via Zoom with Ramapo College pre-med students. He offered advice for moving ahead in their pursuits of medical school as well as discussing his personal experiences.

“Most of my fellow [high school] students went to big schools and found they were lost in the crowd. That’s what made the difference for me at Ramapo.”

– Kevin Manz ’13
Why did you choose Ramapo College after high school?

I chose Ramapo because it seemed to emphasize a totally student-centered academic environment that was close to home, inexpensive, and had a record of sending students to graduate and professional schools. Most of my fellow [high school] students went to big schools and found they were lost in the crowd. That’s what made the difference for me at Ramapo. The relationships I had with Ramapo professors ultimately reflected in recommendation letters for graduate schools.

What made you decide to pursue medical school?

I majored in psychology but was always fascinated in how the body works. While at Ramapo, I was involved with Active Minds, tutored and mentored students through OSS (Office of Special Services), and worked in a neuroscience research lab. I also was an EMT on campus and in my hometown. I chose pre-med courses alongside my psych coursework to focus on both the bio-based science and philosophy. I wasn’t sure if I wanted a Ph.D. or M.D. Ultimately, I decided to pursue both.

Screen shot of class listening to Kevin Manz lecture

Professor Rena Bacon’s class listens to a talk by alumnus Kevin Manz 13.

Screen shot of Kevin Manz, lecturer

Alumnus Kevin Manz ‘13 is currently pursuing medical studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee

What was special about Vanderbilt?

I was really impressed with its time table for students. I took all the basic science courses in one year, which expedited entry into clinicals. I also loved the emphasis Vanderbilt placed on basic science research and how invested the school was in the success of their students.

What are your plans down the road?

I defended my Ph.D. in neuroscience in 2019 but was offered a unique opportunity to pursue a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship before returning to medical school for my final year. My research looks at circuit mechanisms regulating the part of the brain affected by opiates and other drugs of abuse – the nucleus accumbens. I will be going into critical care medicine with the hope of practicing as a medical intensivist while running my own neuroscience research program someday.

What advice do you have for Ramapo students?

Get involved in what you’re passionate about. Engage in extracurricular activities to get experience in a lot of different areas. It’s a lesson I shared with the Ramapo students on this Zoom. I found it was more important to learn and totally understand the material than to focus on only getting an A in the course.