A L U M N I P R O F I L E My Experiences as a Member of the First Graduating Class of Rutgers Medical School B Y L U I S V I L L A J R., M M S ’6 8, M D E ditor’s Note: Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding. To mark the event, the RWJMS Retired Faculty Association invited Luis Villa Jr., MMS ’68, MD, who graduated in the first class at Rutgers Medical School, to recollect his experiences as a student here. At its founding, the medical school offered a two-year program, and its graduates then completed their clinical studies at other medical schools. After graduating from Rutgers Medical School, he attended Harvard Medical School, where he received his MD degree. 38 Robert Wood Johnson I MEDICINE I A t was 1965 and I had to make a decision whether to go to law school or apply for admission to medical school. This was colored by the previous four years, which had seen my parents and me arrive from Cuba with a total of $15 and 40 pounds of luggage, the maximum allowed by the Castro government. My parents had made the difficult choice to face poverty and uncertainty in order to give me the opportunity to benefit from liberty and education in what they considered to be the best country in the world. A medical career offered economic security, intellectual challenge, and permanent employment. fter I interviewed at Rutgers Medical School, the choice was easy: only 16 students, a relatively large and distinguished faculty, brand-new facilities, scholarship aid, proximity to friends and family already in New Jersey, and very likely an interesting choice of schools to finish the clinical years. energy creation and transfer, while his partner, Dr. Shiga, exposed us to the Oriental philosophy regarding the ultimate purpose of molecular chemistry: “Most of your patients will live or die regardless of what you do.” Dr. Schlesinger (“you don’t know what a Dalton is?”) and his team exposed us in detail to the marvels of molecular genetics. Dr. Morrison brought his famous autopsy buckets, which were pungent with the smell of formaldehyde but also invaluable in exposing us to the basics of pathology. And then there was Dr. Stetten. He I was definitely not disappointed. Dr. Stevens, who actually interviewed me, functioned not only as a microbiologist but as a friend, adviser, and part-time psychiatrist. Biochemistry with Dr. Plout opened for me new frontiers in the understanding of cellular function and