Oct. 3, 2014
Last seat in medical school holds great honor
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Bentley Massey had given up hope of entering medical school this fall, convincing himself instead that the delay was the best thing for him.
“I kept telling myself that it gave me time to mature, to work and to spend time with my family,” he said.
Massey had been on the waiting list at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine since early this year, but with July nearly gone and no call, he figured he’d stay in North Carolina, continue teaching middle school science and perhaps enter school to become an emergency medical technician. But then, on July 21, Michelle Whitehurst-Cook, M.D., associate dean for admissions in the School of Medicine, called with exciting news.
“She asked me how I’d feel about coming to VCU,” Massey said. “I was so excited, I think I actually started stuttering.”
A typical response from students on the waiting list, Whitehurst-Cook said.
“He was so happy,” she said. “The competition is very heavy, so when they make it, it is very exciting. It’s life changing for them. For me, it’s exciting to be part of that.”
Massey was not only off the waiting list, but was named the recipient of the Dr. Miles Hench Scholarship. Endowed by Larry Schlesinger, M.D., who graduated from the School of Medicine in 1971, the scholarship is awarded to the last person admitted to the incoming medical school class on the MCV Campus.
“That last seat has true honor,” said Schlesinger, the last student selected for admissions in his class, but who graduated tied for first in the class. “It certainly doesn’t define you as least. The last student selected is ahead of thousands of others who will never deliver a baby or help save a life.”
Massey isn’t sure of his specialty quite yet, but plans to take Schlesinger’s advice to study hard, sit in the front row and wear a tie to class.
“I’m just so proud to be here,” Massey said. “Whether you are the first one in or the last, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do once you are here.”
He can only hope that the next four years go as smoothly as his first few weeks. Because he was not accepted until July, Massey had a little more than a week to move from his hometown of Wilson, North Carolina, to Richmond. He wasted little time. He found an apartment on the first day he visited, and a week later his father and girlfriend helped him move. He even got an assist from an unexpected source.
“We were trying to get this big couch up the stairs, and I wasn’t quite sure we were going to make it,” he said. “Then I saw these two athletic guys walking down the sidewalk, so I asked if they could help. They carried that thing right up there and got it situated for us.”
He offered them each $20, but both declined. Then Massey discovered who they were – Washington Redskins’ cornerback Bashaud Breeland and wide receiver Ryan Grant, in town for training camp.
“Boy, did I feel silly offering them $20!” Bentley said “They were so nice and gracious. I love Richmond!”
Massey, 24, was a double major – chemistry and math – at Barton College in North Carolina, where he also played baseball. He is an avid volunteer, working with youth baseball groups, Meals on Wheels and with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. He has shadowed orthopedic surgeons including the Robert N. Satterfield, M.D., a VCU School of Medicine alumnus who lives in Wilson.
“I have always dreamed of being a doctor, and now that dream is coming true,” Massey said. “I’m starting a new chapter in my life, and I couldn’t be more excited. I don’t think I’d be here without the support of my family and friends. I’ve had so many people on my side pulling for me. I just want to make them proud.”
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