On career day in elementary school, John Sakaleros ’20 wore hospital scrubs. He wanted to look like a doctor. As a tall youngster, he already filled out the uniform pretty well.
Nearly 10 years later, Sakaleros is a first-year student on the pre-med track and plays center on Earlham’s basketball team.
“I have always wanted to be a doctor,” he says. “I want to help people. I want to see the positive difference I can make in people’s lives. If I could do that every single day, it wouldn’t even be a job for me.”
Sakaleros spent part of last summer shadowing a surgeon and volunteers this semester at Reid Hospital helping elderly surgery patients in rehab.
‘”I love science and learning about the body,” he says and is intrigued by the direct impact of a surgeon’s hands and the precision involved in surgery.
“I’m up to the challenge,” he says. “I’ve always been the kind of guy who accepts a challenge and then rises up to it. For surgeons, they practice techniques so much that they are confident by the time they actually perform the surgery.”
Men’s basketball coach Jason Polykoff recruited Sakaleros to play at Earlham.
“I like competition and with basketball, a five-on-five sport, everyone is so interconnected,” he says. “If one person fails, the whole team fails. A team has to be orchestrated so that everyone does their jobs. It’s easy to tell if someone is off. My specific role is that I try to be the guy who does the jobs nobody else does. I get rebounds and focus on defense.”
Sakaleros says Earlham’s exceptional med-student acceptance rates and the opportunity to play basketball convinced him to choose Earlham.
“My advisors are excellent guides, telling me exactly what I need to do to be competitive for medical schools,” he says. “I can’t even describe how I will feel when I reach the goal of becoming a doctor. With a six- to eight-year residency, I know it’s a long road, but I’m enjoying the process of becoming something I’ve always wanted to be.
“I want to be the guy to save someone’s life.”