Dr. Cliff Costello ’07 didn’t always want to be a doctor, but he was always interested in science. At Harley, he, along with four other determined, science-minded classmates Alex Duckles, Mac Inglis, Eric Dobson, and James Greenebaum battled their way through the tough AP Science courses offered: biology with Cindy Richards, physics with Richard Thorley, and chemistry with Al Soanes. He said while every teacher in the science department inspired him with their great teachings and general enthusiasm, he has always been especially thankful for Mr. Soanes. Cliff was struggling with AP Chem his sophomore year and considered dropping the course. His fellow AP Chemers and Mr. Soanes were determined not to let that happen. Cliff is a more visual learner and Mr. Soanes made some slight changes to his teaching to help make learning a little easier and definitely more fun. Cliff said he would make his way through the paper homework assignments with some understanding, and then when he showed up for class to following day, Mr. Soanes would pull out an exciting lab assignment (think chemical compounds that make flames) that would make the homework assignment crystal clear.
After Harley, Cliff moved to the mid-west and went to Case Western University in Cleveland, OH where he graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering. His first job out of college was as at a biotech start-up and he really got a feel of what working in biomedical engineering was going to be like. “I hated it. My advisor told me that I would like it more if I went back to school and got a Ph.D. I disagreed.” Cliff left the job and eventually did go on to further schooling at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, part of the New York Institute of Technology. While there, he was part of the Academic Medicine Scholars Program, a researcher, and a member of the school honor society.
Following medical school, Cliff headed south to Memphis, TN for his general pediatrics residency where he worked at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. While in Tennessee, he discovered he really enjoyed working with teenagers and started doing research on fellowship opportunities in the Adolescent Medicine specialty. He soon found there were only 20 programs in the country that specialize in this, and this past June, started an Adolescent Medicine Fellowship at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver.
At Children’s Hospital Colorado, Cliff mainly works with patients suffering from eating disorders, substance use disorders, and general behavioral health issues. He looks at his time in Denver as an opportunity to learn more about his specialized field and, in the future, hopes to take what he’s learned about adolescent medicine and bring it to rural communities where it is not currently available.
Cliff is so thankful for his Harley education and reflects on his experience and how it has influenced his career today. “Harley teachers and staff are so welcoming and allow adolescents to express themselves in so many ways. I think this openness taught me the same understanding and led me to my work in adolescent medicine.”