Eisenhower senior, aspiring doctor starts paving career path
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent September 28, 2012 12:58PM
Eisenhower High School student Kathy Rodogiannis spent eight weeks this summer at the University of Chicago doing cancer research. She plans to become a pediatrician. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 2, 2012 6:01AM
One doesn’t become a doctor overnight.
With that in mind, Kathy Rodogiannis, a senior at Eisenhower High School who aspires to be a doctor, already has taken some steps necessary to get into a good medical school, as she wraps up her final year at the Blue Island school.
Ranked first in her class, Rodogiannis, who turns 18 on Oct. 2, recently completed an eight-week summer internship at the University of Chicago, where she did cancer research.
Rodogiannis nearly didn’t get to attend. The fee for the internship was more than $10,000, and the scholarships available would pay only about $1,500. That prompted Rodogiannis to approach the American Cancer Society, which decided to sponsor her internship.
Rodogiannis commuted to the University of Chicago daily and spent her time researching a preinvasive form of breast cancer.
“I wasn’t working with live specimens. I worked on a computer,” Rodogiannis said. “I worked with mammograms and identified different mammographic features.”
Rodogiannis loved the work.
“It was a great experience to be around so many qualified people in this field. We got great results. I learned things that will stay with me for the rest of my educational career,” she said.
Rodogiannis also has been volunteering at Ronald McDonald House in Oak Lawn for two years. Ronald McDonald House provides temporary residences for families whose children are being treated at nearby Hope Children’s Hospital. She spends about five hours every Saturday doing housekeeping there.
“There are so many families living there and they have so many things to worry about with their children in the hospital across the street,” Rodogiannis said.
She gives them one less thing to think about.
“The people are so thankful. They’ve touched me and motivated me to pursue a career in medicine so that I can help them on a direct level,” she said.
Rodogiannis also has been a member of the Ronald McDonald House Teen Board, which helps plan activities in the house.
Next year, in college, her focus will turn even more toward a career in pediatric medicine.
“As a child, it was nice to think I’d become a doctor, but around the eighth grade I began to think it could become a reality,” she said.
Being named a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar is making her dream even more real. QuestBridge supports high-achieving students from low-income households and connects them with Ivy League schools and other prestigious universities.
Rodogiannis plans to apply to eight colleges, including Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, Notre Dame and Stanford University. If she gets accepted, she may be eligible to have her tuition paid in full.
Meanwhile, at Eisenhower, she is taking five advanced placement classes and is a member of mathletes, youth and government, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta (a math honor society), and student council. She also is a math tutor.
At her church, St. Spyridon Hellenic Orthodox Church in Palos Heights, she teaches Greek to children.
“It is nice to be able to help anyway I can and just spreading more knowledge. They go there because they want to learn,” Rodogiannis said.
She said her parents, Vasilios and Gkolfo Rodogiannis, of Blue Island, motivate her to excel.
“My parents work hard every day to give me the opportunity to go to school, and I’m so thankful for all of that,” she said. “I can repay them by keeping on task. But mostly, above all, my dad reminds me that pushing and wanting to succeed is for yourself.”
She also credits her Eisenhower teachers, particularly Lydia Loureiro, for what she has accomplished.
“She’s a great teacher,” Rodogiannis said. “I’ve had her for advanced placement European history and have her now for AP economics. She helped with the QuestBridge application and is someone nice to confide in and talk to about things.”