Mackenzie and fellow UVA OB/GYN alum Marie Bangura

Mackenzie by the Charles River.


Mackenzie Sullivan graduated from Roanoke College in 2015 with a double major in biochemistry and music.  He then proceeded to medical school at UVA.  He’s now a resident at Harvard Medical School and is crazy busy, but took the time to answer a list of questions we had for him.  Enjoy!  Dr. Sullivan is quite willing to answer individual questions: you can contact him at

What program are you in/did you complete?  What motivates you to go into this area?

I went to medical school at UVa and now I’m doing my OB/GYN residency at Harvard Medical School. My mentor in medical school is a gynecologic oncologist, and working with her made me want to pursue specialty training in OB/GYN with the goal of completing a gynecologic oncology fellowship.

What specialty or population interests you?

Gynecologic oncology is particularly special because we have the opportunity to take care of women in some of the most trying times of their lives, from diagnosis to end. We have longitudinal relationships with our patients, providing both their surgical and chemotherapeutic care, in addition to seeing them in follow-up for surveillance.

What classes or experiences (research, shadowing, extracurricular) at Roanoke College do you think were helpful to you in getting into your program, or helped you succeed once you got there?

The opportunity to have meaningful research as an undergrad was huge not only in the application process but also in terms of being independent enough to pursue research as a grad student with far less guidance. The extracurricular that always stands out from my time at Roanoke was the College Choir—lots of lessons to be learned about teamwork, dedication, punctuality, all of it. Definitely the thing I miss most from my days in Salem!

How did coming from a liberal arts background help you (or not)?

I think having studied two disparate fields in college (biochem/music) in the liberal arts model sets you up for having the mental flexibility to make it through rigorous graduate training. Being in a small school setting allows you to develop a lot of skills both in the research and interpersonal realm that translate to success in grad school—something you don’t necessarily get from a big school environment.

How did your major(s), minor and/or concentration help you prepare for your program or career?

Majored in music—was a benefit as a conversation starter on the interview trail. There’s also something to be said for being trained to have the mental flexibility to switch between fields easily—something Roanoke intentionally fostered.

What advice do you have for students who are hoping to get into and succeed at a program like yours?  Is there anything that you wish you’d known then that you know now?

Reach out to alumni! Even if they can’t be directly helpful, I got a lot of helpful advice from alumni just in terms of interview prep, choosing programs to apply to, etc. Work hard at being well rounded at Roanoke—almost all the serious applicants for medical school will have great grades and scores, etc. so work on setting yourself apart by bringing more to the table.