Wyatt Smith added three new titles to his growing list of accomplishments last week. A former Duke football player, Smith graduated from Tulane University School of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine degree and earned a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He was also promoted to Captain in the U.S. Army at a pinning ceremony scheduled between his Class of 2023 celebrations.
There‘s no downtime for Smith after graduation, either. An Army reservist through his medical school years, Smith will be on active duty beginning June 1. He’s moving to Texas this week and will soon start his residency in orthopedic surgery at San Antonio Military Medical Center.
“The San Antonio program was my top choice because they have the only Level 1 trauma center in the Department of Defense,” said Smith. “It will be nice to help that specific patient population because they are good people making big sacrifices, and it’s rewarding to take care of soldiers and their families. The center also sees a lot of civilian trauma locally in the San Antonio areas and larger South Texas region.”
Smith joined the military to help fund his medical education and to honor the opportunities his family found in the United States. His grandparents fled Cuba in 1961 and started a new life in a country where they didn’t know anyone or speak the language.
“It was motivational for me to push through the difficulties of getting to and getting through medical school,” Smith said. “It was also a reason to be thankful for the opportunities I had in the US, and so it seemed appropriate that I would serve for at least some portion of my career.”
Smith’s dual roles in the military and medicine will likely take him around the world, but he’ll always be connected to New Orleans and Tulane.
“I’ve been unbelievably lucky to make lifelong friendships here,” said Smith. “I often wonder if I would have been as happy or as successful with everything I’m doing had I not been in an environment as nurturing as Tulane Medicine has been. It’s been such a unique opportunity, such a wonderful experience, to get to go through medical school with these people and in this place.”