by Zaria Bonds (Class of 2019) on August 25, 2016
Millsaps College junior Max Harrigill recently gained impressive surgical experience as part of a program that honors of one of the world’s most famous surgeons, Dr. Michael E. DeBakey.
Harrigill was introduced to the fundamentals of surgical practice during The Michael E. DeBakey Summer Surgery Program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
The eight-week program familiarized 15 college students with hospital and operating room environments as well as time management skills thanks to help from the Baylor College of Medicine’s faculty, residents, medical students, nurses, and administrative personnel.
“DeBakey students are given the opportunity to do things that college students simply normally cannot do -- such as scrubbing into procedures and helping the surgeons in the operating room,” Harrigill said. “This ability to see medicine up close is invaluable, as it gives students a leg up by further stimulating their interest in medicine.”
Each student in the summer program worked closely with a surgery faculty member, who was his or her mentor, and participated in surgical service activities at local hospitals. Students were expected to take part in rounds, operative cases, patient care, and conferences and become a vital part of the team, he said.
Harrigill, a Madison native, completed his rotations at Texas Children's Hospital and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital. He was a member of an abdominal transplantation team, which handles kidney and liver transplants. Harrigill observed the entire process of a kidney transplant, from preparing the organ to stapling the patient’s wounds. After the procedure, he was among the team that followed the patient’s progresses during rounds until the patient was discharged.
“From the moment I scrubbed into my first procedure, a kidney transplant, I knew that medicine was the right path for me.” Harrigill said. “As I stood there watching a man’s life being extended through medicine I was hooked. This program gave me a taste of how amazing and powerful medicine can be, making me passionate, and that in of itself is invaluable.”
The opportunity to attend The Michael E. DeBakey Summer Surgery Program is just one of many that Harrigill has made the most of since he and his twin sister, Tori, enrolled at Millsaps at age 16.
“I would have not known about this program if it were not for my connections at Millsaps,” he said. “Dr. Robert Robbins, who serves on the Millsaps Board of Trustees and also as my mentor, informed me about the program and wrote me a great letter of recommendation.”
What made Millsaps stand out for Harrigill when he was considering colleges was its academics and stellar record in preparing students for medical school.
“Millsaps, though rigorous academically, has been extremely rewarding,” he said. “The professors have been amazing, as they have taught me so much and have continuously challenged me to think critically.
“The ability to get involved in extracurricular activities has been equally impressive. I have been provided with so many valuable opportunities such as being a part of the Student Body Association and Foundations, the program to help new students adjust to the College. I’ve also been able to do research in W.M. Keck Center for Instrumental and Biochemical Comparative Archaeology. And I have made life-long friends in a social setting that has been extremely welcoming.”
Harrigill is a biochemistry major who plans to earn a minor in economics before applying for medical school.
He currently serves as vice president for the Millsaps Student Body Association, vice president of the Students for Advancement of the American Chemical Society, and external vice president and philanthropy chair for his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha. He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Sigma Lambda, Alpha Epsilon Delta, and Beta Beta Beta honoraries.
During the 2016–2017 academic school year, Harrigill will work for the second year as a leader of Foundations, a program to help the freshman class acclimate to the college environment.