A quintessential dream of a boy growing up in Canada is to, one day, become a professional hockey player. Born and raised in Oakville, Ontario, about 30 minutes west of Toronto, Chris Haltigin was no different. Hockey was always at the core of his most important decisions, including accepting a recruiting offer to play NCAA Division 1 hockey for Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

But during his junior year, a major hip injury all but shattered Chris’ dreams of one day playing for the NHL. He underwent two hip surgeries under the care of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Giordano at the University of Rochester, a man who Chris now considers one of the most influential people in his life. He ultimately credits Dr. Giordano and Dr. Elizabeth Perry, a mentor professor at RIT, for enlightening him to a career path in medicine.

After graduation, Chris applied to American medical schools, but he became increasingly interested in AUC when his friend Riley began to deliver impressive reviews of his own experiences at the school. Thoughts soon turned to joining Riley in St. Maarten, and it wasn’t long before Chris was accepted for the September 2013 semester.

Forming a Campus Family

While having a friend on campus really helped him with the transition to island life, Chris emphasizes the tremendous resources AUC offers, and the benefits of a smaller university.

“AUC is truly like a big family. All the professors have an open door policy, and fellow students look out for each other and care for each other like they would for their best friends back home,” he explains.

Chris chose to live off campus in Rainbow Beach Club, and immediately charged headfirst into his studies. The biggest challenge for him was learning time management and juggling a strenuous workload.

“AUC has several resources in place to help students deal with everything,” Chris says. “There are so many clubs and organizations, psychologists, tutors, faculty advisors…you name it,” he says.

“You Won’t Regret It”

Now in his fourth semester, Chris is already helping new students as one of four Head Anatomy teaching assistants, where he spends a great deal of time in the new anatomy lab.

“AUC really went all out in designing this lab, and certainly enhanced the resources available to the Anatomy Department! I learn something new pretty much every day I am in there,” Chris says.

He attributes some of his success to hitting AUC’s new gym every day, and believes his workouts and yoga classes help relieve some of the stresses of school.

“I refer to the gym as ‘my office’, and the anatomy lab as my ‘happy place!’” Chris jokes.

With a scheduled graduation date of spring 2017, Chris hopes to land an orthopedics residency back home in Ontario or potentially somewhere in the northeastern US. “The New York and Michigan clinical sites are the most appealing because of their proximity to Toronto,” he says.

Chris, now 26 years old, strongly encourages students to consider AUC for their medical degree. “If you want to prove to yourself that you were meant to go to medical school, come to AUC. You won’t regret it…they really push you to achieve and stay on top of your work,” he advises.

Finally, he reminds prospective students they’ll have a beach two minutes from campus. “After all,” he says, “how many people can say they went to medical school in paradise?"

Blog Editor

Posted October 30, 2014 05:09 PM

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