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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Commencement 2009: Military Doctor-in-Training Paves Her Own Path to Success

May 11, 2009

Commencement 2009: Military Doctor-in-Training Paves Her Own Path to Success

Photo Credit: Rensselaer/Mark McCarty

While many Rensselaer students can claim work experience, even the most accomplished among them likely can’t admit to helping deliver two babies. Tuesday Fisher, a senior graduating with a dual degree in biochemistry and biophysics and psychology, takes it all in stride as she calmly explains that one of the bundles of joy was delivered into her arms right in the ambulance that she was staffing that night.

Fisher, an aspiring U.S. Army doctor, works upward of 40 hours every week as a trained emergency medical technician for Mohawk Ambulance Service. She works nights and weekends to pay for her Rensselaer tuition — all while maintaining a full course load for two separate majors, earning top grades, and working in the lab as a researcher studying cell development. 

Fisher has learned to adjust to the hectic pace. “I sleep whenever I can,” she said. “You get used to the schedule after a while. Plus, I knew what I wanted to be, and I knew what I didn’t want to happen, and that kept me going. I also had some many great advisers here and so many people willing to help.” 

A native of Prince George’s County, Maryland, Fisher grew up next to the University of Maryland with her parents and two younger brothers. She is only the second member of her extended family to finish college.

“I was always interested in science,” she said. “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t.”

Fisher used her love of science to excel in her classes as well as the lab. She has worked since her sophomore year in the lab of Rensselaer Assistant Professor of Biology Fern Finger. Fisher’s research helps Finger better understand the role of specific proteins known as septins that are believed to be very important in human development. In her research, Fisher mutated a portion of a septin protein to see how the mutation affects the nervous system of a model organism, the nematode worm. The findings could have important implications for studying human development and disease.

“I was given really super science experience within the lab,” Fisher said. “That lab experience, as well as the medical experience as an EMT, really helped define what I wanted to be.” 

Fisher was officially commissioned as an Army officer in March. She aspires to be an Army surgeon, but is keeping her options open on what exact field of medicine she will take on until she arrives at medical school. She has already been accepted to many top medical schools, and is currently leaning toward Tufts University. Next summer, she will attend her first military training. Following medical school, she will be matched with a military residency and then serve at least four years on active duty. 

“I look forward to the experience and training the military will provide,” Fisher said. “I will have the opportunity to live anywhere in the world.” 

During her time at Rensselaer she also played several years on the varsity women’s soccer team and still enjoys regional competitions in taekwondo. She is a member of several honors societies and enjoys playing basketball whenever she has a little free time in her very busy schedule.

And what does the student who has already given her all have to say about giving her service to the military? “It will be a great experience, but I also want the opportunity to give back to my country.” 

Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
Phone: (518) 276-6542