Justin Fox ’15 says every time he wants something, he finds a way to make it happen.
That was the case when he decided to come to the Harley School. He was a Grade 10 student at Norman Howard School and knew from the time he was a young boy that he wanted to be a doctor. He was speaking to friends one day at school and they were talking about how difficult Harley was and how “that school gives so much homework.” Justin, wanting to challenge himself and be in the best position to make becoming a doctor a success, told his father, “I want to go to the Harley School next year—and he did.
He says the transition from Norman Howard to Harley was THE most difficult transition he has ever made and that includes going to college and (spoiler alert) medical school. He said his friends at Norman Howard were exactly right, Harley was more difficult and they did give a lot of homework and he was a little distracted by all the new faces and making new friends. Harley offered a lot of great opportunities and Justin soaked it all in. He never learned to swim, but after speaking to a new friend about swimming, he joined the Varsity swim team where he not only learned to swim, but made it all the way to the finals in sectionals. He said “I wouldn’t be here talking with you if not for the foundation of the Harley swim team.” Although he’d never run track, he decided to join the HAC track team and continued to run at the College of Wooster, Ohio, making all conference twice and breaking the 4 x 200 relay record. He was overwhelmed with it all, but up for the challenge. “Harley prepared me so well for everything.”
Justin graduated Cum Laude from the College of Wooster, Ohio where he majored in biochemistry and molecular biology. He says his work with Dr. Betsy Vinton (2001-present), Harley Upper School Mathematics and Science/Biology/Department Co-Chair at Harley, was a huge reason. He took both AP Bio and Algebra with Dr. Vinton and said he spent a lot of time in her office, questioned his own capabilities, and worried that he would not make it to medical school. She said, “You try hard here, I know you’ll do well in college.” As an undergraduate, he did several research projects that include a published study out of Kent State about synthesized graphitic carbon spheres with Cobalt nanoparticles, maintained Microplots and greenhouse experiments at the Ohio State Agriculture and Research Center, and an apprenticeship at the College of Wooster in the biochemistry department.
After College of Wooster, he took two years off to take the MCAT’s (Medical College Admissions Test) and build his resume. He joined a team as a molecular scientist working in the Mako Medical Lab in North Carolina helping with COVID diagnoses, taught swimming lessons at a YMCA, worked for Health Code, a company that goes to patient homes to check vitals and make sure they are taking their meds, and worked on research at Duke University.
Now, he is in his first semester of medical school at the University of Connecticut where he received a full scholarship. He’s had two weeks of orientation and is learning “the basics” like how to do a physical exam, gathering patient information, etc. In the future, he hopes to focus on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and eventually go into schools and reform the Health and Sex Education curriculum. In college, he had some mental health challenges and was able to overcome them, but realized he could help other people. He says there are outdated opinions held by the medical community on topics, such as learned helplessness, depression, and chemical imbalance. At the University of Connecticut, medical students are required to obtain a certificate in Public Health. This will be an asset when he is lobbying for changes in schools in the future.
He said “We need some younger people to make a change and that’s what I am trying to do.”