RSC’s “Pre” Degrees: A Professional Advantage


When it comes to the fields of medicine and law, the professional preparation can be as demanding as the practice. But a medical student, attorney and veterinarian all agree that Russell Sage College primed them to excel in professional school and in their careers, academically and in some unexpected ways.


Pre-Med Balance
Now a fourth-year medical student at Upstate Medical Center, Biology-grad Kerri-Ann Fraterrigo ’03 decided to attend Russell Sage for college because RSC offered the softball and basketball player a place where she could balance academics and athletics.


And Sage’s emphasis on balance has helped her in medical school. “Sometimes being a medical student is like having a split personality, because when you are doing your rotations, it is like being an employee. Then you are studying for your boards at night, still a student,” said Fraterrigo. “It is a challenge for a lot of people to juggle taking care of themselves, family, friends, work and school, but Sage emphasized balance, so it was easier for me to carry that through in medical school.”


Now Fraterrigo has just her residency to go on the road to her dream of being a pediatrician. “Medical school is hard, but it is worth it. I love to look at how my time at RSC and in medical school, has paid off because I am truly excited about what I am doing.”


Pre-Law Drive

Tammy Cumo-Smith ’00 knew she wanted to be an attorney since fourth grade, so when it was time to choose a college, RSC’s 3+3 program—a program that allows qualified students to enter Albany Law School after their junior year at Sage, thereby completing their bachelor’s and law degrees on an accelerated schedule—stood out.


“The program is a great idea for students who know law school is what they want. You don’t have to wait four years before you start on your next three years,” she said. She acknowledged that the 3+3 schedule is demanding and requires sacrifice, but emphasizes the benefits. “The hectic schedule of the 3+3 helps to get you ready for law school, which takes studying to a whole new level. I think the program gets you into good study habits and teaches you time management, which are crucial to surviving the
first year of law school.”


Now an attorney at Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, specializing in commercial real estate, real estate development and land use law, Cumo-Smith brings the same drive that fueled her education to her practice. “A complicated development project or asset purchase involves a lot of ‘moving parts’. After months and sometimes years of working on a deal, when it all comes together at a closing, there is a lot of satisfaction,” she said.


Pre-Vet Leadership
Carla Hernas ’72, D.V.M. said that attending a women’s college made all the difference to her as veterinary student at the University of Pennsylvania and as the owner of her own veterinary practice in Schenectady, N.Y. today.


“At Russell Sage I got to learn, to lead, and ask questions without being in the shadow of men. And I became comfortable with being assertive so that I could act with confidence in veterinary school, where I was in class with competitive men,” she said. “The lessons I learned in leadership at Sage have also served me as a business owner. It works right in.” Hernas found Russell Sage to be so valuable that she encouraged her daughter to seek a women’s college for her education (Now a dentist, her daughter received an undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr.)


Hernas offers one caveat to aspiring animal doctors, however. Veterinarians often take “work” home said the owner of three dogs and four cats.