Leading By Serving

November 20, 2007

Approximately 200 former varsity athletes per year graduate from Georgetown each year. I emphasize "former" because most of these young men and women will never compete athletically at such a high level again in their lives. I give similar emphasis to "graduate" because these athletes will leave the Hilltop with a diploma and more importantly, well prepared to begin productive lives as citizens and leaders in their communities.

We hear or read about the likes of Dikembe Mutombo who, in words and actions, is an exemplary citizen providing extraordinary leadership in his quest to build a hospital in his native land. Of course, because they remain in the public eye, it is easier to track those that go on to be professional athletes. But what about all the rest of these well prepared future citizens and leaders?


At the top of my list, I have to give a nod to those former athletes who excelled academically as undergrads and continued their education in medical school. These men and women, hundreds in number who once wore the blue and gray, have dedicated their careers as physicians to the well-being and betterment of mankind.

Jack Reilly (right) with former track coach Ron Helmer

Take John J. Reilly '63 for one. Jack was one of the finest runners in Georgetown athletic history. Now a member of Georgetown's hall of fame, he led his two-mile relay team to an indoor world record in 1963, earned the outstanding competitor award, and was named the Duffey Scholar-Athlete. Jack subsequently graduated from Georgetown medical school and has practiced ophthalmology in Waterford, CT for 30 years. He has given generously of his time serving as a volunteer at Georgetown and in his community.

Then there is Maria V. Devita '80. During her basketball career on the hilltop, Maria broke the all-time rebounding record and as captain, led her team the best season (21-3) ever recorded in the program's history. She was the first women's basketball player named to the Georgetown hall of fame. Like Jack above, Maria went on to graduate from Georgetown med school. She is now associate director of nephrology at Lenox Hill hospital in NYC where she leads the fellowship program.

Women's hoop player Maria Devita also played volleyball on the hilltop

Walter Koroshetz went from the lacrosse field to the field of neurology

Finally, I must point to Walter J. Koroshetz '75. Walter came to Georgetown having played some basketball in high school. He took up the sport of lacrosse as a freshman and through persistence and hard work made himself into a legitimate lacrosse player, a starter within three years. Upon graduation, Walter matriculated at University of Chicago medical school. After training in neurology at Mass General, he did post-doctoral studies in cellular neurophysiology at MGH and the Harvard neurobiology department. He joined the neurology staff, first in the Huntington's Disease unit and then in the stroke and neurointensive care service. He is not in Georgetown's athletic hall of fame, but he is a charter member of my hall. It is no surprise to me that he is now the deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes at the National Institute of Health.

In this week of Thanksgiving, we should all take the time to thank those who provide care, heal us, and nurse us to health. Unlike Dikembe, most of these men and women labor in anonymity. However, their service and leadership is invaluable to society and the common good.

We cannot thank them enough.





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