As an aspiring doctor, Kevin Brady (B.S. ’90) earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Georgia State while juggling a full-time work schedule and the challenges of preparing for medical school.
He has since become a successful surgeon who makes time to fly from his home in Phoenix back to Atlanta at least twice a year.
Brady said his success would not have been possible if not for the role Georgia State played in his life, which is why he’s committed to helping the next generation of future physicians at the university.
“Every journey begins with the first step and for me, Georgia State was my first step. If I had not had the opportunity to go to Georgia State, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Brady said. “I want to support a school that supports everyone and takes care of everyone.”
Brady said he enjoys coming back to Georgia State and interacting with students interested in becoming medical professionals.
“It’s incredible how amazing these students are,” said Brady, a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon. “I love mentoring these students. I don’t care what it takes or what changes I have to make in my schedule, I’m going to make it happen.”
During a recent visit, Brady gave a guest lecture reviewing clinical cases. He also performed a surgical demonstration at the Biology Department’s cadaver lab, where he led students on a journey into the anatomy of the human heart.
None of this is the typical experience for students on a pre-med track, especially at a university that doesn’t have a medical school.
Georgia State is the only non-medical school in Georgia and one of the few non-medical schools in the country to have a cadaver lab.
“I thought the lab is such an unbelievable resource to have,” Brady said. “It certainly wasn’t available during my time and I wanted to jump on the opportunity to support that.”
Carmen Eilertson, the Biology Department’s pre-med adviser and co-director of the Master of Biology Medical Science program, said students get more than a classroom experience when Brady visits.
“[Kevin Brady] is able to show our students that our alumni are successful,” she said. “He is a very prominent cardiac surgeon and he’s willing to come back and be a mentor to our students.”
Eilertson said these are the kinds of experiences that allow Georgia State to offer one of the best pre-medical programs in the state. And the cadaver lab isn’t the only noteworthy resource.
“It’s incredible how amazing these students are. I love mentoring these students. I don’t care what it takes or what changes I have to make in my schedule, I’m going to make it happen.”
“When you look at other universities in the state, I think that we have a better program. Not just in biology, but we have a great chemistry department, neuroscience institute, biomedical institute, public health school and nursing school,” Eilertson said. “We just have a lot of opportunities for our undergrad and graduate students that I don’t think a lot of other schools have.”
Brady creates additional opportunities by extending an invitation for students to travel to Phoenix to watch him operate. With permission from one of his patients, graduate student Briana Lucas made the trip in 2018 to observe as Brady performed a coronary artery bypass and valve replacement surgery.
“We can’t have students scrub into the procedure, but we can certainly have them in the operating room and get an education in what we’re doing,” he said.
“Shadowing Dr. Brady allowed me to observe procedures that many pre-med students don’t have the opportunity to observe prior to medical school,” Lucas said. “I feel that this experience will allow me to grasp some of the cardiac concepts covered in medical school more quickly than students who have not been given this opportunity.”
Brady said he will continue to look for ways to give back to students at the university that offered him a non-traditional pathway to success.
“I have had a fascination with science and particularly the heart since I was 13 years old,” Brady said. “I’d always dreamt of being a heart surgeon, perhaps because of its larger-than-life persona. As I advanced my education at Georgia State, my dream continued to hold my interest and I am fortunate that the road to realizing my childhood dream was possible.”
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