Oct. 18, 2018 — Ever since he was a high school student, Yoni Nutovits has made it a priority to offer as much encouragement, education and care he can to young people in need within his community. From volunteering with the Florida Guardian Ad Litem program to conducting research in the UF Health pediatric cardiac intensive care unit, Nutovits has kept a compassionate, watchful eye on the next generation.
Nutovits, now a second-year student at the UF College of Medicine, looks forward to a future in pediatrics, with help from the Charlotte M. Liberty Scholarship and Academic Support Fund.
“This scholarship helps me get the materials necessary to prepare me to be the best clinician I can be,” Nutovits says. “I see myself working with the pediatric population definitely. My long-term goal is to start a nonprofit organization that would allow me to balance my skills in medicine with my passion for nonprofit work.”
Nutovits’ passion for service was instilled in him at a young age by his mother, Susanna Taiar, who raised Nutovits and his sister while working as a teacher.
“My mom has always been passionate about giving back to others. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt a closer connection with that concept,” he says.
During Nutovits’ junior year studying psychology at UF, a loved one suddenly passed away. Nutovits recognized this moment as an opportunity to continue the legacy of caring for others that his loved one had created during her lifetime. To cope with the loss, Nutovits began volunteering with the Florida Guardian Ad Litem program, which supports abused, abandoned or neglected children across the state.
Nutovits was mentoring a 9-year-old Gainesville boy when the boy’s mother passed away. It was then when Nutovits realized the close connection he had created with the child and the impact he could have on his life as a big brother figure. Nutovits says he was motivated to stay in Gainesville to begin his medical training, so he could continue to watch his young friend grow and mature.
“My experiences with the Guardian Ad Litem program instilled a strong motivation in me to provide young people with resources, education, opportunities and support. My relationships with those kids mean the world to me,” he says.
As both an undergraduate and medical student, Nutovits continued his focus on serving young people in need by volunteering and conducting research in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, which treats children with congenital and acquired cardiac diseases. Last summer, under the mentorship of Ahmed Asfari, M.D., and Joseph Philip, M.D., Nutovits measured the utilization of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, on the pediatric population.
“That experience showed me that everyone deserves a chance to try to achieve their dreams and goals. The greatest tragedy in life is a child not being able to do that,” Nutovits says. “If I were able to provide care that would allow children to pursue their dreams, that would bring me the greatest satisfaction.”
So far, Nutovits is finding the support he needs to pursue his goals from his peers at the UF College of Medicine. He says he’s most looking forward to his clinical rotations that begin this summer, where he will be able to put his training to the test in caring for patients. Nutovits knows no matter what comes next, he will have his classmates by his side, who supply him with the same compassion and care he will one day provide to his pediatric patients.
“The best support system you can have while undergoing the rigorous process of medical training is the people around you. I really do love my classmates,” he says. “The UF College of Medicine has done a great job of recruiting not just intelligent people, but those who are compassionate and supportive.”