May 20, 2005

Graduation 2005: Teaching runs in top Med student’s family

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School of Medicine Founder’s medalist Travis Henry with Dean Steven Gabbe, M.D.
photo by Dana Johnson

Graduation 2005: Teaching runs in top Med student’s family

School of Medicine Founder's medalist Travis Henry found himself surrounded by family when he accepted his honor last Friday. Aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws from all areas of the country gathered to watch him earn his medical degree.

Despite the large group of supporters, there was a noticeable absence. Henry's father, who had been battling cancer for three years, passed away just two weeks before the ceremony.

“He knew I was receiving this award, which is nice,” Henry said. “I'm hoping that this family gathering will be a good celebration to get through things.”

Henry and his family had a lot to celebrate — the completion of Henry's medical education, as well as his receiving the highest medical school honor.

The Founder's Medal is presented to the top student in each of Vanderbilt's schools. For Henry, it was an unexpected award, one he credits to a supportive wife and family, as well as a good study partner.

“My good friend Mike Blaha and I studied together during our first and second years, and I think that made the world of difference,” Henry said. “I also have to thank my wife, who put up with me spending so much time with Mike studying.”

Henry, originally from Morgantown, W.Va., came to Vanderbilt from Virginia Tech, where he earned a bachelor of science in biochemistry. Since his first year, Henry has worked with Frank Carroll, M.D., professor emeritus in the Department of Radiology, doing a research project in the Free Electron Laser Center.

“Dr. Carroll has been a role model for me, and had an important part in my choosing Radiology as a field,” said Henry, who will complete an internship at Vanderbilt next year before beginning his residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis in Diagnostic Radiology.

Henry said he was drawn to Radiology because of its technical aspects, because it's computer-based, and also because he hopes to teach in the future, and felt the field offered excellent teaching opportunities.

“My father was a computer science professor and my mother is on faculty in the College of Business Economics at West Virginia University,” Henry said.

“I definitely want to keep with the family teaching tradition. I think Radiology provides a unique field to teach in, with a lot of one-on-one mentoring opportunities. And I think the field just gets more and more interesting every year.”

With high hopes for the future, Henry spent graduation weekend enjoying family, the culmination of four years of hard work, and his classmates, who he said made his time at Vanderbilt so enjoyable.