The Poet Will See You Now
Doctor-to-be Ashlee Thibaud ’16 finds inspiration—and education—in writing poetry
“The greatest scientists are artists, as well,” Albert Einstein famously said.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Ashlee Thibaud ’16, a biochemistry major in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, likes to unwind by writing poetry.
“It’s a great way to express myself,” says Thibaud, who is vice president of the Nu Rho Poetic Society, which fosters “poetic expression” at Syracuse and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and is a facilitator of Verbal Blend, a spoken-word poetry program at the University. “I love dabbling in different types of creative writing.”
Thibaud is in good company, as some of the greatest poets—from the Greek god Apollo to John Keats, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and William Carlos Williams—have been trained as doctors.
On the surface, it may seem that poets and physicians don’t have much in common, but Thibaud is proof that, neurologically, creativity doesn’t discriminate. It just needs to be cultivated, she explains.
Thus, the Brooklyn, N.Y., resident plans to parlay her liberal arts training into medical school, where she wants to specialize in oncology (i.e., the study of tumors).
“Ashlee has an outstanding intellect and is remarkably effective in applying her talents,” says Thomas Fondy, professor of biology, with whom she has been investigating the physico-chemotherapy of leukemia in cell culture and is her primary investigator for her research lab. “She is a born leader both in terms of example and in getting others to work with her. Ashlee will be a leader in whatever field she chooses.”
Hard work and exceeding expectations have been constant themes throughout Thibaud’s life—growing up in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince; moving to Brooklyn, where she graduated as salutatorian of her college prep school; succeeding at college.
At Syracuse, Thibaud is a member of The Renée Crown University Honors Program; the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), in conjunction with the New York State Education Department; Phi Delta Epsilon a medical fraternity; The Rebecca Lee Pre-Health Society, aimed at supporting pre-health students; and the Dimensions Mentoring Program, targeting female students of color.
“What I love most about Syracuse University are the people,” says Thibaud, who also volunteers at the Syracuse VA Medical Center. “I love to admire the wonderful interactions we have with one another. The spirit of Syracuse is, indeed, vibrant.”
Perhaps it’s Thibaud’s deep sense of humanity that keeps her turning to poetry for inspiration—and education, as it pertains to patient wellness.
“I’m a very tenacious individual, and I put my all into everything I do,” she adds. “Having someone there to push you, to inspire you, is what helps you go the