Aug. 10, 2018 — For Karen Cravero, first-year medical student and mother of two, there are few joys in this world as fulfilling as ending a long work day with her two children, ages 8 and 5.
“When I go home after work and I give my kids a kiss, that makes my whole day better,” Cravero says. “It brings perspective into my life. Even if all my experiments in the lab fail, I go home to my kids and they don’t care about any of that. They just love me.”
Cravero has just begun her training at the UF College of Medicine, but one of the first lectures she attended outlined the necessity of striking a balance between the rigors of medical training and the rest of one’s life. She says she felt relieved to learn that her institution values mental health as much as she does.
“Here, there is an emphasis on well-being. It’s a holistic approach to education,” she says. “There can be a huge stigma around mental health, but if we tackle it from the very beginning of our medical education, we can help ourselves from becoming overwhelmed, depressed or anxious.”
Cravero strikes that balance with help from the Lawrence M. Goodman Scholarship Fund, which allows her to focus on her studies and not worry about how she will provide the best life for her children.
“As medical students, we have a significant financial burden. The Goodman scholarship has been a blessing that has provided me relief. I can pay for my schooling without affecting my kids, who are my top priority,” she says.
Before beginning medical school at UF, Cravero received a doctorate degree in cellular and molecular medicine from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her research focused on the genetics behind breast cancer, determining which genetic mutations contributed to the physical expression of symptoms. She aims to continue her research at UF, starting on the path toward becoming a clinician-scientist in oncology.
“During my time at Johns Hopkins, I got to rotate through different labs studying many human diseases. I realized that cancer is such a complex umbrella of diseases. I want to tackle this complex pathway,” she says.
Cravero looks forward to adding clinical skills to her ever-expanding tool box, as her clinical rotations will teach her the subtly intricate techniques of quality patient care.
“I’m excited to be able to connect the dots between the lab and the clinic. Getting that human connection in the clinical setting makes a huge difference. It gives you a personal perspective,” she says. “In the lab, you can forget why you’re doing this research. Then, in the clinic, you put a face to your work. You see how your research can impact the next generation.”
As Cravero balances her studies with the struggles of single parenthood while her husband completes his doctorate degree in Tennessee, she retains a sense of optimism about the bright future her training at the UF College of Medicine will provide.
“A whole new world of possibilities is opening up,” she says. “It’s going to be stressful, but I know it’s going to be fun. I’m very hopeful.”