A strong desire to serve and outstanding performance in the classroom will see one Saginaw Valley State University student take an unorthodox route to earn his Doctor of Medicine degree through a commission in the U.S. military.
Freeland native Phillip Markey came to SVSU with a passion for the sciences. The son of an engineer and a science teacher, Markey spent his high school years actively exploring his interests in the field.
“In high school, the more I learned about chemistry, the more I started to really enjoy it,” Markey said. “Then, when I had A.P. biology my senior year, I just wanted to see how the two fields would relate.”
Markey has long had an interest in military service.
“Back in high school, I thought about enlisting in the Army right after I graduated,” he said.
After talking to his family about the decision, he was motivated to earn his degree and then re-visit the option of serving in the military. While at SVSU, he volunteered at the Aleda E. Lutz Veterans Affairs Medical Center; that reinforced his interest in serving his country.
Markey passed the rigorous screening process to be admitted to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland to pursue his M.D. this fall. He will be the third generation within his family to serve in the U.S. military.
“Here I am now, joining the military and I realize that SVSU helped get me to this point,” Markey said. “This is what I've wanted to do for most of my life and the guidance I've received here really helped push me toward this goal. I'm excited to see what's next.”
Markey was active on campus and in the surrounding community during his four years at SVSU. A member of Phi Delta Epsilon, a pre-medical fraternity on campus, and the Health Professions Association, he remained engaged with students and professionals in the medical field. A college co-op student at The Dow Chemical Company, Markey had the opportunity to work in biochemical research while there.
His status in the Honors Program also meant that Markey would need to pursue an area of research relating to the field of biochemistry. Working with Jason Scott, associate professor of biology, Markey conducted research relating to liver health and cardiovascular disease and how diet plays a role in the development of heart disease.
“It was clear when Phillip came into my lab that he wasn't an ordinary student,” Scott said. “He was, and is, very intelligent and passionate about the medical sciences. He was a very quick study in the lab, quickly gaining knowledge and proficiency in the research area and with the laboratory techniques.
“Phillip has all of the qualities and skills needed to become a successful medical student and physician and I am confident he will become a valued member of the Uniformed Services and medical community.”
Upon the completion of Army basic training this summer, Markey will be a commissioned officer holding the rank of second lieutenant. He will also complete his residency at one of nine Army hospitals across the U.S. and Germany.
“I would really love to travel more,” Markey said. “The first year or two of school are going to be very book-heavy, but after that, I start my clinical rotations, so I would have the opportunity to do a six-week rotation in D.C., a six-week rotation in Hawaii, a six-week rotation in Germany, which is really exciting.”
Already an experienced traveler, Markey participated in an SVSU study abroad trip that took him to Ireland, Scotland, and England.
“Being in the Honors Program gives me a stipend for study abroad,” Markey said. “That – together with a study abroad scholarship – allowed me to spend a week and a half in Ireland hopping from Galway, to Sligo, to Knocknarea, and ending up in Dublin."
Markey also visited Edinburgh and London while abroad. “It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” he said.
Markey will graduate from SVSU with a degree in biochemistry. He will be joined by the 1,083 individuals expected to graduate from the university this month. Commencement exercises for graduates in the colleges of Business & Management and Health & Human Services Friday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. Students completing degrees in the colleges of Arts & Behavioral Sciences, Education, and Science, Engineering & Technology will take part in the ceremony scheduled for Saturday, May 12 at 11 a.m. Each ceremony will be held in O'Neill Arena of the Ryder Center.