Marcelo Cerullo '10
Thesis Title: “Coffee and Capital in Sao Paulo, 1850-1900” Awarded the Hoopes Prize
I began my journey as a History concentrator in my sophomore year, taking just one class on early-modern Brazil. I had been convinced by a friend who was then a senior. Like many students, I did not know quite how to put together a course of study or plot a path to a profession in my post-graduate years. I chose to concentrate in History because I found the questions interesting, the methodology rigorous, and my potential compatriots ... well ... nice. Eight classes later, I wrote my thesis about the evolution of the coffee industry in southern Brazil in the late nineteenth century. I was interested in the way geography, politics, and global demand shaped the culture and industry of a particular region. I was interested in how the production and consumption of a thing changed a society. At each step, I was supported tremendously by faculty members whose interests ranged widely. Some were Medievalists turned anthropologists, others studied eastern Europe, others focused on the deep past. All were extraordinarily engaged in my progress as a writer and a scholar, and prodded and pushed me to think more critically and to write more clearly.
These skills were invaluable. After graduating, I found a job as a research assistant at the Institute for Health Policy at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and spent two years writing research grants and academic papers on topics ranging from ethics in genetic medicine, disparities in access to care, and patterns in the epidemiology of chronic illnesses. In the fall of 2012, I entered the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as a member of the class of 2016. While I don't know what specialty I will pursue, or even where and with what patient population I'll end up working, the ability to sift through data, determine the veracity of sources, and to synthesize a narrative, was the product of an undergraduate curriculum that trained me to think, and these skills have been tremendously helpful both at my job, and certainly in medical school.