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After enduring semester of tragedy, Georgetown College grad accepted into medical school at UK

For so many people, this spring has been turbulent, difficult and trying. For recent Georgetown College graduate Stefan Zak, his last semester included more highs and lows than he ever could have imagined.

From a frightening diagnosis and family tragedy to the ultimate high of getting accepted into medical school, this semester threw everything at Zak.

In March, Zak traveled to Paris, France, during spring break for his cousin’s wedding. As he returned to the United States, he began feeling slightly ill. He tested positive for COVID-19.

Stefan Zak

Thankfully for Zak, he was tested and promptly received his diagnosis. Because the college was on spring break, he was easily able to self-isolate away from any other students without ever having been at the college.

As he recovered from home, the semester only got harder and more tragic for Zak. On April 4, his father passed away from COVID-19 and other extenuating health circumstances. In the midst all of this sickness and tragedy, Zak still had classes.

He still had homework and other responsibilities. But he’s eternally grateful for the flexibility and kindness he received from his professors at Georgetown College.

“I’m really grateful to my professors for allowing me some time away from classes with all this going on,” Zak said. “They were incredibly accommodating. The end of the semester was rough, but I am really thankful to them and to Georgetown as well. It was an opportunity for me to grow as a person through this tough semester.”

Originally from Ecuador, Zak moved to the United States to live with his mother in Paris, Ky., while in high school. It was after his move that he first became aware of Georgetown College and aspired to be a Tiger. After graduating from high school in 2016, he decided to take a gap semester.

“I wanted to get more used to America and the culture, more comfortable with the language,” said Zak.

When he arrived at Georgetown, he instantly felt at home thanks to the intimate classes.

“The setting is amazing. The small classes where you can interact with your professor in such a unique way was so helpful,” Zak said. “The professors, of course, not only think about your well-being in the classroom but also your well-being as a person. I always felt comfortable going to a professor with a problem I was having in the classroom or out of the classroom and felt like I could talk to them.”

The Christian environment also allowed him room to grow spiritually while in college. “The values of the college, being at a Christian school, has brought a lot of value to me,” he said. “It has prepared me academically and as a person”

Even though he took a gap semester before coming to Georgetown, Zak still wanted to graduate in May of 2020. This meant that in his time at Georgetown, he often took 16 or 18 hours of courses, most of them in the sciences. His persistence and dedication, though, would have an ultimate payoff.

Amongst the difficulty of this semester, Stefan was actually late in getting his application materials into the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. “It was actually a bit scary,” he said. “I thought the best thing that could happen is I get wait-listed. Then, when I got the call in May I was completely shocked.”

Not only was Zak accepted into UK College of Medicine, he was accepted with a scholarship covering 50 percent of his tuition, a truly life-changing moment for him. A semester that began with such difficult circumstances, closed with a moment of ultimate joy. “I just couldn’t believe it. I was so happy,” he said.

Now, Zak will begin medical school at UK this fall. It’s easy to believe he’ll be prepared for whatever medical school throws at him.

From Georgetown College

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