Planning Medical Career, Human Science Senior Explores Research and Theater Interests
June 28, 2021 – Julia Lo Cascio (NHS’22) majors in human science and minors in theater and performance studies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has combined her passions for health, science, and theater to work with infants and children as a pediatric medical assistant. At 15, she “fell in love with Georgetown” while attending a medical institute through the School of Continuing Studies.
Question: Where did you grow up, and how did you learn about Georgetown?
Lo Cascio: I grew up in Staten Island, NY, where I attended Saint Joseph Hill Academy High School. With the encouragement of my high school teachers and guidance counselor, I completed the one week summer 2016 Medical IV Institute through the School of Continuing Studies — and fell in love with Georgetown at just 15 years old!
Question: What drew you to want to study in the health field?
Lo Cascio: My first exposures to the medical field were as a cardiac patient and a supportive family member. I appreciated how my physicians took the time to explain the science that fascinated me and how physicians that cared for my family members made the effort to connect with us as a whole.
Combining my passions for science, communication, and caring for others (as my close-knit Italian-American family does) seemed like the perfect fit for who I am as a person and scholar.
Question: How are you enjoying the HSCI major and TPST minor?
Lo Cascio: In addition to meeting some of my dearest friends, human science has allowed me to connect with knowledgeable mentors who foster an environment that champions excellence and encourages discovery. With my professors’ support, I push myself to new pursuits, even outside of the health field, such as my minor in theater and performance studies.
My major and minor were most tangibly joined when I worked as a pediatric medical assistant in my hometown during the COVID-19 pandemic. I had the chance to utilize both the knowledge and technical skills from my major, and the communication and entertainment skills from my minor to deliver effective care to patients as young as a day old. I hope to continue this union of passions wherever my career takes me.
Question: Tell us about the activities and research you are involved in at Georgetown.
Lo Cascio: I work in the laboratory of Dr. Blythe Shepard in the Department of Human Science, where I research olfactory receptors expressed in the liver to understand how they can be targeted to mediate the negative effects of liver disease and diabetes.
My theater work has involved performance, crew work, and a historical dive into the legacy of Georgetown professor and WorId War II spy Jan Karski. (Learn more about Karski and his work in the Polish Underground.)
As a longtime volunteer for On Your Mark, a center in my hometown serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, I was disheartened that so many participants were missing enrichment during the pandemic shutdown. A year ago, I used my decade of theater experience to pilot a weekly virtual karaoke program for a group of these individuals. I continue to find joy in making music each week, especially in seeing the participants having such a blast.
Question: What are your plans for the future?
Lo Cascio: In the immediate future, I am looking forward to an exciting senior year, and reconnecting with both friends and faculty in person.
Next semester, I will be serving as a teaching assistant in the human science on genetics taught by Dr. Jan LaRocque. I will continue my participation with the historic Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society and intend to perform in Nomadic Theatre’s fall musical.
Beyond Georgetown, I recently submitted my application to medical school and hope to pursue a career in pediatrics. I am extremely grateful to Georgetown for the chance to work with liver cells by day and perform at the Kennedy Center by night. Wherever I find myself, I hope to carry on my duality as a “Shakespearean Scientist” and use my skills in both arenas to serve children and their families as a physician.
By Bill Cessato