Fellow Spotlight: Mark Cort

February 10, 2019

Are you still unsure about taking a gap year? Hear from one of our current Saga Tutoring Fellows about why taking a gap year was the best decision for him.

A native New Yorker, Mark Cort knew that he wanted to give back to the community similar to those in which he was raised before dedicating his time to himself and to medical school. His desire to work in education and in a school setting motivated him to join Saga as a Tutoring Fellow this school year.

What was the deciding factor in choosing to be a Saga Tutoring Fellow before going straight into medical school?

I knew since my sophomore or junior year that I wanted to do service work and take a gap year before medical school. I knew there was no way I could go from college (neuro science) and straight into medical school. I knew that I did not want to do science research, and clinical research would be difficult because I did not complete a thesis. So I had been researching service year opportunities, and many of them offered the educational components, but nothing compared to Saga in terms of flexibility, the ability to live on my own, and the highest pay over the other organizations. As an adult man, this was the most appealing and manageable for my lifestyle. My practice tutorial during my interview really sealed the deal. I was able to speak with an actual student and realize this was the position for me. I thought I’d be out of touch with the community after being in college for so long. It was daunting and scary, but when I met the students, it clicked.

What is the biggest lesson you learned as a Saga Tutoring Fellow?

I’ve learned and grown as a professional. The most important thing you can do for yourself is set small goals and to have small pieces of joy that get you through tough times. If you come into some of these school environments, you may feel some chaos. If you have large goals, you will become disappointed easily. For example, one of my students (Hasaan) at Dewitt Clinton High School struggled with math at the beginning of the year. He started the school year with failing grades and with little confidence, especially in terms of his math ability. We have spent all year working to build his confidence, testing strategies, and math skills. Now that the semester is coming to a close, he was able to raise his grades, and he even earned a 75% on his test. He came into class and was boasting about his grade and how easy it was now. These are the small joys that keep me motivated. The fact that I can give back to students regardless of whether they know it or not, is really important to me.

I come from the same background as many of my students, and I know the only reason I am where I am today, is because of education and the people who took the time and effort to invest in me and my success.

Currently Mark has completed all of his interviews and was accepted into UCSF, NYU, and Mt. Sinai where he got full-tuition scholarships! Mark has decided to attend NYU Medical School in the fall.