Claudy Zulme’s long journey to a career in medicine began in Haiti, took him to a New York community college, then to Cornell University, into the U.S. Navy and to Upstate’s College of Medicine.
Claudy’s persistence was rewarded in part last week with the Sarah Loguen Fraser Scholarship, endowed by the Upstate Medical University Alumni Association. The annual award is presented to an Upstate medical student who exemplifies the values of its namesake, the first African-American graduate of the College of Medicine and one of the country’s first female African-American physicians.
“This is a true honor,” Claudy said upon receiving the award in the Medical Alumni Auditorium. “We look at Sarah as a role model, characterized by what I call the three Cs: caring, courage and commitment.”
Claudy said Sarah Loguen Fraser (Class of 1876) spent a lifetime caring for those who needed it, had the courage to prove her naysayers wrong and was committed to practicing medicine out of a passion for healing, not for any personal gain.
“She knew what she wanted to do, worked hard and achieved,” Claudy said. “She wanted to help people. That’s why she joined the profession.”
Claudy emigrated with his family to the United States at age 20 to achieve his dream of attending medical school. He graduated from Rockland Community College and Cornell, and spent three years as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy.
“He’s a natural leader,” said classmate Brian Buckley, who was part of an Upstate Team Haiti mission with Claudy more than three years ago, right before the devastating January 2010 earthquake. “The things he talked about – caring, courage and commitment – summarize him. That’s just Claudy. He’s fought hard to get where he is, and you can’t help but feel his energy and be proud of him.”
Nakeia Chambers, MS, Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, presented Claudy with his award and read an excerpt of the admissions essay Claudy wrote when applying to Upstate.
“I would like to repay the miracle I was bequeathed by devoting my future to learning and practicing the ultimate art of healing,” he wrote. “I want to commit myself to bringing excellent medical services to minorities, immigrants and other people in need.”
Claudy later wrote about a subsequent trip back to Haiti, and the joy and frustration it brought him.
He plans on a residency in internal medicine after he graduates in May. He and his wife have two young daughters, including a 3-month-old.
His advice to his fellow Upstate medical students?
“Love what you do,” he said. “It’s all about caring.”