For Harrisburg Academy senior Jonathan Pastor, the dream of one day going into medicine dates back to one of his earliest memories.
“I’ve been interested in medicine since I was really young,” he said. “One of the earliest things I can remember is we had a career day when I was in preschool and I dressed up like a doctor. I’ve always just kind of been interested in the human body and how it works.”
Pastor is one step closer to making that dream a reality, although he now hopes to go into biomedical engineering.
He was recently accepted to attend Penn State University and Purdue University next year, and he is currently awaiting a response from Georgia Tech and Carnegie Mellon University before deciding where he will go.
For many students, medicine is a lofty and idealistic goal, but Pastor said he has a drive to help people. However, the realities of surgery or medical examination can cause some to shy away.
Not for Pastor. He has already taken part in areas of the medical field that would cause some to become squeamish.
Following his 11th-grade year, Pastor traveled to Poland to observe cardio thoracic surgeries as part of the IB Scholarship and Summer Study.
“It was really emotional, because it was at a children’s hospital,” Pastor said. “All of the patients were under two years old and one was only 10 days old. I could tell the head surgeon was really nervous for that one. It was really impressive to see him remain calm in that situation.”
Pastor said he is driven to medicine because family members like his father and grandfather have had heart issues.
“I think it would be great if I could help other people who have heart issues,” he said.
Pastor is the son of John and Sharon Pastor of Camp Hill.
Pastor credited his parents with much of his academic and personal success.
“I think my parents are one of my biggest inspirations because both of them were engineers, so that’s part of the reason why I chose to do biomedical engineering over a typical biology major,” he said. “They’ve supported me all the way through and helped me out a lot with my Eagle Scout project. … They’ve always been supportive of me with what I do in school and everything.”
Along with his academic honors – like earning a first place award at the Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair, a National Spanish Exam bronze medal and the St. Lawrence University Book Award – Pastor carries a near perfect GPA.
Pastor recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout, completed an internship at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and during his 11th-grade year coordinated a schoolwide blood drive.
“I’d say that’s my proudest achievement, maybe even more so than my Eagle Scout project, because of what it could do for other people,” Pastor said.
Pastor is also vice president of the student council, vice president of the National Honor Society, a member of the school’s QuizBowl and Academic WorldQuest teams, a member of the high school band and jazz band and a member of the varsity soccer and basketball teams.
“I would say what I do is I try to involve myself in a lot of different activities so I get different experiences and different perspectives,” he said. “I also plan out what I’m going to do for every week, so I know exactly what amount of time I need and what I’m going to get done.”