On his way to medical school at the University of Maryland, Jimmy Comotto ’14 says what influenced him most at WC had everything to do with its people.
By anyone’s measure, Jimmy Comotto ’14 has lived his four years at Washington College to the fullest. A biology major in the pre-med program, a philosophy minor, the president of three different organizations, and a Cater Society Junior Fellow, Comotto certainly hasn’t let any grass grow under his feet.
But when asked to share the most unforgettable part of his rich WC experience, he boils it down to one word: people.
“The thing I will never forget is the people,” he says. “The professors have definitely cheered me on, but I think what changed me the most was learning about people through Best Buddies, being a peer mentor, and being able to work with people one-on-one during their transitions in life. Those experiences change your perceptions and teach you the most.”
Comotto, who was accepted to three medical schools (he chose the University of Maryland and matriculates there this fall), says the liberal arts ethos of Washington College encouraged him to explore other perspectives. “People are always keeping an open mind, always willing to listen to you, so it’s always easy to listen to other people and learn together as a community.”
Among the faculty, he says that Mindy Reynolds, assistant professor of biology, challenged him the most. “She was my freshman advisor turned into my major advisor so she’s been with me since day one. She was my mentor for summer research as well as mentor for my senior thesis. I’ve known her forever, we’ve become great friends, and she’s been a great mentor to me.”
Reynolds and other professors gave him a safe place to take risks, make mistakes, and learn. “Obviously I’ve been successful because I’ve made it to med school, but that’s only because I’ve failed at some things and I’ve had very patient advisors and mentors who have supported me and helped me better myself.”
Comotto says he arrived at Washington College “very shy, not someone who was really looking to put himself out there.” But he quickly got involved in a variety of clubs and activities, rising eventually to be president of Best Buddies, the Order of Omega, and the cross-country club team. “I knew that people were going to support me and I was going to have a really good time interacting with the people here. And I have surprised myself along the way by being able to get outside of my comfort zone.”
Comotto knows medical school is going to be intense, but he hopes to use his Best Buddies experience to volunteer or shadow with doctors who are working with kids with developmental disabilities, as well as become an orientation leader to help new students get acclimated, much as he did as a peer mentor at WC.
“I’m humbled because I’ve experienced lots of different types of people and kind of understood that I don’t really know all that much and I have a lot to learn,” he says. “But I’m also very proud because I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here.”