Ryan Heslin ’14 Has Passion for Politics and Medicine
Ryan Heslin ’14 is poised to follow in the footsteps of an elite group — physicians who become policymakers later in their careers.
The recent Stony Brook graduate said he knew he wanted to be a doctor ever since he was a child. As it happened, the Floral Park, New York, resident had been born with a malformed lacrimal duct in his left eye and needed multiple surgeries during the course of many years. He underwent his first operation when he was only 4 weeks old.
“The earliest memory I had of doctors was one of my many visits to my maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Stephen Bosniak. He and his partner, Dr. Marian Zilkha, made what could have been an uncomfortable experience into a learning process,” he said. “Before and after every one of my surgeries, Dr. Zilkha would show me medical journals and encyclopedias that depicted the kinds of operations I would be undergoing. I liked reading as much of the scientific jargon as I could understand, even if it was only out of one eye!”
Ryan had his last eye surgery nine years ago and credits the doctors with instilling in him a love for medicine. His passion for politics, however, came later — when he enrolled at Stony Brook.
As a biology major/chemistry minor, Ryan split his time among his studies, work in student government and community service. When he was in his sophomore year, he joined the Phi Delta Epsilon pre-medical fraternity, which collaborates with charity organizations such as Operation Smile, Volunteers Around the World and Global Medical Brigades, and raised funds for the Children’s Miracle Network and Daffodil Days program.
“Charity is fun if you’re doing it with the right group of people. We become smarter and more compassionate by participating in these efforts and manage to help people in the process,” he said. “What could be better?”
He also joined Stony Brook’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG), serving as a senator and associate justice. In addition, he was a justice on the Administrative Hearing Board, which investigates referrals of alleged non-academic misconduct, and was a member of the Student Code of Conduct Committee, which works to ensure a safe and fair campus environment.
But his interest in government didn’t stop there. He joined Republicans for Hahn, an organization that successfully campaigned to elect Fifth District Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn in 2013. He said he likes to buck the “disturbing trend” of polarization in the nation’s capital, a trait he proudly shares with the politician he helped to elect.
“Kara is a Blue Dog Democrat who is entrenched in conservative values, but she bridges the gap between ideological extremes,” he said.
Ryan is applying to medical school for 2015, but is returning to Stony Brook this fall to complete the MBA program with a concentration in healthcare management. “I’ll be acquiring the business acumen that will be indispensable when I open my own dermatological practice following medical school.”
“I want to spend my life in healthcare saving as many lives and traveling to as many impoverished nations as I can — those places need doctors more than anywhere on the planet,” he said. “I hope to participate in Doctors Without Borders after I become an established physician, as well as found my own non-profit organization to deal with the victims of senseless conflicts overseas.”
After he fulfills his dreams as a doctor domestically and abroad, Ryan said he is eyeing a run for Congress or the Senate. “Either way, I’d want to ensure that every American could be free to choose and customize their healthcare plans.”
—By Glenn Jochum