Caring for the community

Sofia "Sonia" Gabrilovich, MS4

Sofia “Sonia” Gabrilovich, MS4

When 5-year-old Sofia “Sonia” Gabrilovich was asked what job title she hoped to hold when she grew up, she did not hesitate in her response: “Doctor.”

After all, medicine runs through her blood. Her great grandfather, grandmothers, grandfather and parents all practiced medicine in Russia and now, as a fourth-year medical student at the UF College of Medicine, the 27-year-old is continuing the tradition.

In September, Gabrilovich was recognized for her humanism, professionalism, selflessness and altruism with the Caroline Annette Cody Memorial Scholarship, named in honor of another student with roots in the medical profession.

Caroline Cody, a member of the College of Medicine’s class of 2003, was tragically killed during her first year of medical school. Remembered by her classmates for her sensitivity, grace and altruism, she is the only student in the history of the UF College of Medicine to receive a medical degree posthumously.

Caroline’s father, William Cody, M.D., presented Gabrilovich with the scholarship award, which is given annually to a rising fourth-year student who demonstrates the personal characteristics and commitment to community service exemplified by Caroline.

“I am honored to be recognized by the school for this award. Although I did not know Caroline, she obviously had a great impact on the people around her in a very short period of time,” said Gabrilovich, who noted that she was especially grateful to have been nominated for the award by her peers.

Caroline's father, William Cody, M.D., presents Gabrilovich with a scholarship at the College of Medicine's 2014 Honors Convocation. Photo by W. Charles Poulton

Caroline’s father, William Cody, M.D., presents Gabrilovich with a scholarship at the College of Medicine’s 2014 Honors Convocation. Photo by W. Charles Poulton

As director of operations for UF’s Equal Access Clinic at Main Street, she not only examines patients and oversees clinical activities but also manages administrative aspects such as clinic policies and financial issues.

“It’s a really amazing feeling volunteering there every week,” said Gabrilovich, who first became involved with the clinic as a first-year student. “When school became difficult and I began to forget why I wanted to become a doctor, going to Equal Access Clinic every week served as a reminder and gave me strength to keep going.”

She also participated in several community service activities while earning her bachelor’s degree at UF. She took part in street cleanups, volunteered at the local homeless shelter and even co-founded the Gainesville chapter of Camp Kesem, a national organization that hosts a free one-week camp for children of parents with cancer.

Gabrilovich plans to pursue obstetrics and gynecology post-graduation, a field she knew was right for her from the first day of her rotation. She said she enjoys the variety of tasks, continuity of care and patient-physician relationship the specialty offers.

“If I walk away from my career knowing that I helped people,” she said, “that would be more than enough for me.”