Anthony Tucker-Bartley ’17 stands on the steps in front of Gordon Hall at Harvard Medical School.
Anthony Tucker-Bartley ’17 visits Harvard Medical School’s iconic Gordon Hall during an April orientation program. Photo © Bryce Vickmark.

Anthony Tucker-Bartley ’17, a biology major who graduated magna cum laude in May, was admitted to the nation’s top medical school, Harvard, this spring. He begins classes this fall.

Tucker-Bartley beat formidable odds to achieve his goal; Harvard Medical School had a 3.3 percent acceptance rate last year. His own story is equally noteworthy.

Born in Jamaica, Tucker-Bartley and his family immigrated to the U.S. when he was 7 years old. He was raised in Ewing, New Jersey. While he endured teasing for his accent and disliked school, a local mentor encouraged him and playing football helped him to keep on track.

His mother is an operating room scrub nurse who wanted him to go into medicine for a career. He loved football so much that he chose Wagner, where he had the chance to play, over some other major universities. He received the College’s Founders Scholarship and a Bonner Leaders scholarship.

“I wanted to go to one of the top medical schools so that I could be the best doctor I could be,” Tucker-Bartley says. “That takes confidence, and a lot of the confidence I have was cultivated at Wagner.”

Then, some challenges arose. He broke his ankle playing football not once, but twice. And, he came close to failing his first college biology class.

The Bonner Leaders program, a close-knit cohort who commit to 300 hours a year of community service and additional training to develop their leadership skills, helped him process these challenges and move forward with a sense of mission.

He finally decided to quit football. The treatment he received at Staten Island University Hospital inspired him to aim high with his pre-medical studies. Applying himself more diligently and asking more questions in class with Professor Heather Cook, who became his academic advisor, he improved his grades. During his sophomore year, he looked up the top 10 U.S. medical schools, printed them out, and hung them on his wall to keep himself inspired.

He did internships at hospitals in Brooklyn and in Camden, New Jersey; mentored youth in Port Richmond, Staten Island; and founded a chess club at Wagner and at Port Richmond High School.

“I wanted to go to one of the top medical schools so that I could be the best doctor I could be,” Tucker-Bartley says. “That takes confidence, and a lot of the confidence I have was cultivated at Wagner.”

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