Stefan Barone ’11: College Has Been An Adventure
Many Baruch College students travel abroad during the January intercession, taking advantage of opportunities to work or study abroad. Some come back with remarkable stories, some with life-changing experiences.
Stefan Barone ’11, spent January volunteering with Unite for Sight, an NGO dedicated to bringing eye care, including eyeglasses and cataract surgery, to people in Ghana, on Africa’s west coast. Dividing his time between the capital, Accra, and a rural village, Stefan helped set up makeshift eye clinics, working with small teams of volunteers and opthomalic nurses, seeing some 120 patients daily and identifying those in need of surgery.
The African experience provided powerful reinforcement to Stefan’s growing resolve to devote his professional life to providing medical care where it’s most urgently needed. "I’ve always had my heart set on Africa,” Stefan says, and the Ghana trip confirmed his choice. His experience working with Unite for Sight, Stefan says, gave him a better idea of how a series of locally run clinics could be set up in areas of the world where medical resources are scarce.
A Staten Island native, Stefan originally came to Baruch to study accounting. As a profession it offered stability. At one time, Stefan was even vice-president of the Baruch Accounting Society. But he grew increasingly restless as an accountant-in-training. Eventually, it proved to be the second career he scrapped. The first was the music business. While still a student at Tottenville High School, Stefan built a sound studio in his home, started a band that played at local clubs, and wrote music that blended hip-hop with elements of classical music. He made enough money to buy his first car and eventually got an internship with Sony records. Very soon, however, the music business began to seem too prone to unpredictable ups and downs. Stefan emphasizes that it wasn’t music he gave up on, just the music business.
Stefan had always known he had an aptitude for math and science. With his career plans wavering, he decided to take a course in biology. The course, taught by Professor Emil Gernet, immediately captivated him. He joined the Baruch Biomedical Society, began volunteering in the Emergency Room at Staten Island University Hospital South, and started doing genetic research under the tutelage of Professor Valerie Schawaroch. He quickly came to the realization that medicine was his true calling. For Stefan, it’s been an extended voyage of discovery: just what college is supposed to be.