Villa Joseph Marie is Cutting Edge…. NOT Cutting Corners
by Cate Murway
Villa Joseph Marie, the premier, private, all-girls college preparatory academically comprehensive experience in Holland, PA was the very first school to offer a medical career- focused program such as this. VJM’s emphasis on education produces graduates more experienced than their peers, providing them with a variety of resources to enrich the curriculum, moving beyond traditional classroom boundaries, beyond just textbooks and lab manuals, making them better positioned for success.
Drexel University College of Medicine in the Hahnemann University Hospital invited the VJM students to visit the pathology lab, autopsy suite, forensics lab, and the gross anatomy and embalming room, underscoring and enhancing the educational experiences of their classrooms.
This engaging VJM offered program was initiated under the guidance of former science department chair/ teacher, Lois A. Tyburski, M.S. in Biological Sciences, Fordham University, who focused on making her environment -and thus the school - a better place, building the future one student at a time, encouraging the potential and uniqueness of each that has ultimately led to their success.
This VJM career-focused field trip, expounding its up-to-the-minute technologies, was a welcome addition to the rigorous instructional VJM Honors Human Anatomy and Physiology, AP Biology and Earth & Environmental programs taught by the current Science teacher, Ms. Stephanie Szylejko. “This experience is a real life version of what I have been teaching. Most of my students are looking at the medical field and this opportunity opens up even more career paths for them.”
Each of the competent and highly motivated students enthusiastically said that "confirming an interest in medicine" was a primary reason for attending this Drexel University College of Medicine program on their spring break. Ambition just can’t wait!
Maggie May, the VJM Social Studies Department Chair eagerly chaperoned this learning excursion. She teaches all levels of psychology at Villa. “I was interested in the potential to see the human brain up close. I love learning and loved seeing the girls and their faces light up, and seeing them making connections from what they have already learned was so exciting.”
Drexel has been ranked among the nation’s 100 best universities for years, and many of its colleges and programs are considered among the best in their fields.
Legendary financier and philanthropist Anthony J. Drexel’s vision for new models of higher education was so prescient in 1891that it continues to drive this institution he created, more than 125 years later.
Pathologists are involved in the interpretation of laboratory and pathology results. While you may never meet one, they play the most pivotal role in providing good laboratory services.
David Joseph Chichilitti, the adjunct instructor for the Master of Pathologists' Assistant program of Professional Studies in the Health Sciences at Drexel University College of Medicine in the Hahnemann University Hospital exhibits a sense of urgency about training the next generation of outstanding practicing pathologists who will become the academic leaders who recreate that discipline. His dedication always drives his work. Dave is known for his insightful teaching to medical students, residents, fellow pathologists and clinicians; for his relentless pursuit of the accurate diagnosis for each patient; and most importantly, for his highest level of compassion, kindness and ability to be a true friend to all who have the privilege of knowing him.
“We want to encourage people to go into the medical field.”
Dave led this tour at Hahnemann University Hospital and introduced the students to available forensics programs, “mini- med”, and pathologist assistant programs; unique, influential programs for students intending on going the Drexel route, nurturing student interest in medicine and possibly encouraging those students to confirm that career choice. This trip significantly impacted students' decision to pursue a medical career through fostering interest and effectively answering students' questions about the field.
Drexel University is the first in the area to launch medical mentoring programs, also offering a highly competitive  week Mini -Med Summer camp program [program's inception in 2006] for academically gifted rising HS seniors and college frosh. This program exposes the students to clinical, didactic and simulated learning opportunities within the field of medicine.
In Dave’s meticulous work in the Pathology Diagnostics Laboratory and in his heartfelt presentations, he sends a note of inspiration to his students and others in school to follow their dreams and escape any confining mindsets. He began his career as an autopsy technician at the Elkins Park Hospital and chose to continue his training as a pathologist assistant under the renowned late director of pathology, Dr. Aristotle A. Christou. He also had the opportunity to work along with the late nationally respected, brilliant Honorable Halbert E. Fillinger, Jr., MD, Montco's "Homicide Hal”, an expert in his field, the Coroner of Montgomery County and assistant criminalistics professor at Temple University.
Dave’s formal training was always OJT.
His BHS yearbook quote was quite prophetic: “What we learn, we learn by doing.”
The JEMS truly learned from the best! They sincerely appreciated their time spent with Dr. Tina Morgan Ross, PhD, co-director for the Master of Science in Forensic Science Program in the Graduate School of Biomedical and Professional Studies in her Forensics Science Program laboratory. The facilitated, focused, hands-on learning experiences incorporated trace analysis sessions including blood splatters patterns and fingerprint impression data [each individual’s fingerprints are unique], firearms and tool mark identification.
Dr. Peter Clifford, DO, PhD, board certified pathologist/assistant professor in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at Drexel led the students in the multi-head microscope room in Drexel’s Pathology Department. They were able to witness first hand, in a real life working laboratory /hospital situation, the organ and body systems that they are learning about in the classroom.
This incredibly implemented program helped the VJM ’20 [junior] students and the solo sophomore to better understand, appreciate and even pursue that dream career related to medicine.
Avamarie Backich, a VJM soccer/ track athlete feels drawn to forensics and pathology, perhaps at Temple University. She finds dissecting the most interesting. “I learned more about forensics and anatomy by seeing a real body. Seeing real internal organs is very different than reading about them in a book.”
Jordan Benner, a VJM field hockey/ track & field athlete is highly considering the medical field, possibly pathology. Drexel University is on her radar for further education.
“I was excited to experience what I would possibly experience on a day to day basis, especially this ‘hands on experience’ that most people my age can’t say they have had.”
Amy Bloesch, involved in VJM theatre and dance, is very interested in the medical sciences of pharmacy and pathology. “I wanted to see how it works with actual doctors in their real locations.”
Drexel University is on her radar for further education.
Kathryn “Katie” Boesch, a VJM tennis athlete/ French NHS member is interested in a career in pediatric medicine or neuropsychology. Drexel University is also on her further education radar.
“I have done dissections on animals but it was very interesting to see human parts.”
Sabrina DiNofa, a VJM concert/ jazz band musician, is truly inquisitive and always prepared to be involved. “I held a human brain and saw a cadaver!” She is interested in the medical field and is considering a career as a Physician Assistant.
Emily Dwyer, a VJM concert/ jazz band musician is interested in anatomy and human dissection. Her continuing education goal is in Aerospace Physiology at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
"The most interesting part about the trip for me was being able to see the connection between what I have learned in my anatomy class to a physical body. It’s one thing to study how the heart works in a sheep dissection, but to see it in a human body is very cool!"
Anna Lee, VJM volleyball athlete/ NHS Thespian Society member feels drawn to forensics and she has visited and is considering Virginia Commonwealth University. “The up close experience with the cadavers was amazing!”
Grace Matwijec, the VJM sophomore editor of the QUINTESSENCE Literary magazine/ Tri-M/ Math Honor Society member is determined to attend medical school. “I have dissected animals but it was very interesting to see human body parts.”
Jillian Reifsnyder, an NHS student /VJM swim team/ softball athlete is planning on being a veterinarian. She loves her anatomy class and is looking at colleges in a city atmosphere. “I held a human heart and a human lung!”
Kaitlyn "Katie" Zink, a VJM basketball/ lax athlete is interested in anatomy [cadavers intrigued her the most] and she is planning on pursuing a medical career.
Mr. Dave Chichilitti and the Drexel University world-class professional medical staff held their rapt attention.
Hahnemann University Hospital and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine are two path- breaking medical schools founded on progressive principles. Thanks to their intense programs, students can accrue the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing medical sciences.
The medical school has one of the nation's largest enrollments for a private medical school and represents the consolidation of two medical schools: the first US medical school for women, Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, founded in 1850, and the nation's first college of homeopathy.
Drexel University College of Medicine is ranked #83 in research by U.S. News & World Report and is the second most applied-to medical school in the United States. The institution continues its historic commitment to women's health education. The College of Medicine's main campus is at the Queen Lane campus of the former Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania.
The USA is expected to face an estimated shortage of 124,000 physicians by 2025, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
VJM graduates are empowered young women, well prepared for responsible moral leadership.
A Villa Joseph Marie education is an investment and its STEM studies provide a solid foundation for careers in medical fields.
The future is HERE…. It just hasn’t been distributed yet.
Villa Joseph Marie
1180 Holland Road
Holland, PA 18966
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