As an undergraduate at SBU, Kevin Okapal managed the de-
mands of a pre-med program and the demands of being a Division
"I did play soccer and I was in pre-med. One of the great things
was the soccer coach: He knew what my
goals were, what my aspirations were. If I
was going to practices at different times or
just skipping a couple scrimmages or games,
he was willing to work with me," Okapal
Choosing the St. Bonaventure-George
Washington combined degree program was
"one of the best decisions I've ever made,"
"You're able to get a first-class education,
you have teachers that know your first
name, they know lots of things about you,"
Okapal felt that the transition from being
an undergraduate in Western New York to
being a medical student in the nation's capital was a smooth one.
"I think Bonaventure laid a very good foundation, so through
the first and second years we just build upon that foundation and
then the third and fourth years you're able to ... apply that knowl-
B O N A V E N T U R E
ture endeavors. For Sood,
that element will make him a
"The Franciscan tradition
calls us to be brothers and
sisters and we all look out for
each other," said Sood.
"So here (at the hospital)
when we see patients, I'm
talking to the patient but I'm
also looking at their families,
too, and understanding the
patient's story, how they are
feeling. I'm not just looking
at the diagnosis and how to
treat it, but also to make
sure they're doing okay, too,
personally, and how they're
handling concepts like
maybe death and transition-
ing to a palliative care center
or hospice setting," he said.
As an undergraduate, Shawn Sood would often
finish up a three- or four-hour lab then head over to
the Reilly Center to stand in line to ensure a front
row seat at a basketball game. He loved being
courtside to feel the energy of the players -- and
the rabid fans.
Today he has a courtside seat to some of the best
medical care in the country as part of his clinical ro-
tation at Inova Fairfax Hospital, which serves the
Washington, D.C., metro area.
Sood was among the first students admitted to St.
Bonaventure's highly competitive combined-degree
program with George Washington University School
of Medicine. At first he thought it was going to be
daunting going from classes at tiny St. Bonaventure
to medical school in the nation's capital.
"But as soon as I started, from the very onset I felt
well prepared. In fact, compared to some of my col-
leagues, I felt better prepared. Bonaventure classes
really set me up well to transition into med school,"
At St. Bonaventure, Sood was embraced by the
camaraderie of fellow pre-med students. As a non-
Catholic, he felt welcomed by the university's
"I participated in a lot of Mountain (Irenaeus) ac-
tivities ... and knew a lot of the Franciscan fathers
and brothers there on a personal basis," said Sood.
That caring and benevolence transcends the
campus, carrying forth with students into their fu-
Biology (BS) & MBA
"The Franciscan tradition calls us to
be brothers and sisters and we all
look out for each other," says
edge and apply that to patients," he said.
Participating in Olean General Hospital's Experience in Clini-
cal Medicine at Bona's gave Okapal a behind-the-scenes look
at a community hospital and reinforced his career plans.
"At Olean General Hospital it was a pretty good intro-
duction to what we're doing now on the wards. You're
able to follow different attendings around, different spe-
cialties, maybe see what you want to do in the future
and get a better sense. For me it really confirmed again
that I wanted to go into this area," he said.
The third-year student at George Washington Univer-
sity School of Medicine and Health Sciences is approach-
ing each of his rotations open-minded, considering each
of the fields as a potential specialty.
"The good thing about third year is you're going on
about six different rotations: You get to see what your
life would be if you chose that specialty," he said.
Regardless of the medical specialty he chooses, Okapal
knows what kind of doctor he wants to be.
"I just hope to be a doctor that patients can appreci-
ate," he said. "I feel that everything about the field of medi-
cine -- from how complex some problems are to how much
you can help a patient the next day in a quick turnaround -- is
Miss Most at SBU:
food, the Hickey ... some
of them (staff) knew my
first name, they knew my
breakfast order. So, going
to the grocery store and
making my own food is a
little bit different.