Commencement 2022 profile: Liam McGuirk
The Rockland County senior knew that he wanted to attend medical school, but discovered his interest in classics
Liam McGuirk, a dual major in biological sciences and classical civilization at the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, likes to reflect on how his interests have influenced each other during his time at Binghamton University.
The Rockland County senior knew that he wanted to attend medical school when he began his undergraduate studies, so he decided to major in biological sciences. After taking an art history class as a first-year student, however, McGuirk discovered his interest in classics and ultimately established his double major.
“I couldn’t see myself being fulfilled by only majoring in a science,” he said. “I realized that medicine is a lot more than science, so I decided to use the free time in my schedule to cultivate other interests. College is the perfect time to branch out and develop something you didn’t know that you would be interested in.
“I went into classics because it’s fun, not because I wanted it to be my career. In the long run, it turned out to be really helpful. It developed my research skills, my empathy, my understanding of the human condition — it really will help me to become a better physician. I never would have known that if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone.”
McGuirk was awarded the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence this past April. The Chancellor’s Award acknowledges students for outstanding achievements that have demonstrated the integration of SUNY excellence in areas such as academics, leadership, campus involvement, community service and the arts. It is the highest honor bestowed on a student by the University.
“Getting the SUNY Chancellor’s Award was a surreal moment for me,” McGuirk said. “I didn’t realize that the things I was doing were so noteworthy. Every semester feels like you’re in this time warp, and I never gave myself the time to reflect on how impactful the stuff I was doing was.”
From being a teaching assistant for five semesters to volunteering at a hospital in the community, McGuirk’s can-do spirit has reached the lives of those on and off campus.
During his last semester, he took aspects of what he learned from both of his majors to create his honors project titled “Honey and Narcissus in Ancient Medicine: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Remedy.”
“I think this project is especially noteworthy because it is interdisciplinary,” he said. “It seeks to break down divisions in academia and create more collaboration between faculty of different departments. This project paves the way for more students to experience how different disciplines enrich one another when they are brought together to solve problems.”
He urges other students to find the balance between their academic and personal lives while also taking advantage of the opportunities they are presented with. It is important to be ambitious, but don’t let that ambition be overwhelming.
“Trying to make space for all of your obligations can be difficult, and it’s important to take advantage of the opportunities that you have here,” he said. “This is a time in our lives where responsibilities are at a minimum and freedom is at a maximum. Capitalizing on that freedom and finding that balance are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during my time here.”
This fall, McGuirk will attend Stony Brook University to begin studying for his Doctor of Medicine degree.