Lisa Hirschhorn, VCS Class of 1973
Stuyvesant High School
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, MD
Harvard School of Public Health, MPH
Currently: Working to improve quality of life and outcomes for underserved populations living with HIV through NGOs Partners in Health and John Snow; Professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health.
The idea to go into medicine came from my physician parents. But the idea of working to make the world a little bit better—and to be open to seeing everyone as an individual and as an equal—was very much a product of VCS. VCS taught me to take academic risks, to dive deeper into subjects, to take a multidisciplinary, muilt-angled approach to problems. It's something I continue to use in my work today.
I am working where HIV and AIDS were discovered. I ran an HIV clinic for 16 years. We’d had a lot of success in the States at this time, so I went overseas. For a very long time under-served populations have needed expertise and treatment. I am probably going to Africa two weeks out of every two months in the coming years. It was very much a moral and ethical decision to move in this direction of medicine. I love that hopefully my work will make the world a little bit better and support those working to address inequalities in health care.
At VCS, you felt like you could take risks and do a dive deep into a field to broaden your knowledge. You learned so much, with so much detail. There’s so much I still go back to—certain poets and artists. My only Spanish exposure was at VCS -- it’s stayed with me.