As part of TCU’s 150th anniversary celebration, the University has been highlighting significant Horned Frog alums with a series of hand-painted murals in cities across the country. The murals are part of TCU’s national brand campaign “Lead On: Celebrating 150 Years of TCU,” and they epitomize the university’s mission and pledge to create leaders who are conduits for the greater good.
Three extraordinary health care professionals that were the product of TCU’s College of Science & Engineering Pre-Health Professions Institute were featured on the latest in the series. Serving as leaders at the individual and community level in their current roles, these alumni are fittingly represented as larger-than-life in painted portraits in downtown Chicago.
Dr. Brandon Zsigray ’14 graduated from TCU’s College of Science & Engineering after completing his undergraduate work in its Pre-Health Professions Institute. Following medical school in 2018, Zsigray became a neurosurgery resident at Loyola Medicine in Chicago. Currently in his fifth year of residency, Zsigray says his time at TCU prepared him for his path to becoming a surgeon. “From day one at TCU’s College of Science & Engineering, you’re exposed to research opportunities and very much encouraged to partake in them, especially as part of the pre-health track…they really encouraged us to get involved with physician shadowing as an opportunity to see what a medical career really meant,” Zsigray says.
Zsigray believes that compassion and empathy play critical roles in his profession. He says, “The past few years have been kind of a rough time for humanity in terms of having those connections. Now more than ever, I think that being able to connect with each other is something that we need to do in all walks of life, whether it's medicine or any other field.”
Completing her undergraduate work a few years after Zsigray in TCU’s Pre-Health program, Dr. Courtney Sullivan ’17 is now doing her residency at the University of Chicago Medicine in obstetrics and gynecology. She says that the academic rigor of TCU prepared her well for everything to come. “Medical training is obviously a very long road, and it's very hard. The College of Science & Engineering does not make its classes easy…You can really tell that your professors want to push you and want to make you a better student,” Sullivan says.
Sullivan has done a lot of advocacy work in medical school for reproductive justice among marginalized populations and specifically for female healthcare. She credits TCU with helping shape her as a leader because it’s there that she grew in her confidence. Sullivan says, “I think going into college as a 17-year-old is scary, and you don't really know who you are. Getting to be a part of the College of Science & Engineering and specifically the Pre-Health program makes you feel like you're not just another student…This experience lets me know that my professors still think and care about me…It just validates that TCU still really invests in me as a person,” Sullivan says.
Dr. McKenna Chalman ’19 also went through TCU’s Pre-Health program and was a 2023 graduate of the inaugural class of the TCU Burnett School of Medicine. McKenna is doing her general surgery residency at Rush University in Chicago. Chalman says, “Being a part of the first class at TCU has been wonderful. I look at my classmates and see where everybody else is going to residency and all the success that they have had, and I can't believe that I get to be a part of that too. Of those that applied to residency this year, 100% of us were matched. That's phenomenal and exciting, and now we get to kind of scatter and continue our training and represent TCU as we do that.”
When Chalman was first contacted about being included in this mural, she didn’t fully understand her involvement. She says, “One of the people in marketing from the School of Medicine emailed me and told me about the mural event, and I was like, ‘Oh, I didn't know you guys were all coming to Chicago. I'll be there. I would love to see you.’ I thought I was just getting invited to go to the event. And then I started getting emails about setting up a photo shoot, and I was like, ‘Wait, I didn't realize that my face was going to be on it.’ But I'm very excited and still shocked that somebody wants me to do this.”
Emma Joy is also featured on the Chicago Mural. Joy graduated in 2021 from the TCU Harris College of Nursing, she became a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. As a NICU nurse, she takes care of premature infants that need a bit of extra help. Joy says, “As a nurse, I get to practice compassion every day and make a difference in my patients’ and their families' lives. And they carry that impact with them. I believe that with each act of kindness or act of empathy that I play out with my patients, it sort of compounds and ultimately does impact the greater good.”
Other murals in the series were unveiled in New York City, Los Angeles, and Nashville. They spotlighted alumni John Devereaux ’12 of “Hamilton,” Katherine Beattie ‘08, producer/writer for “NCIS” and wheelchair athlete, and Desmond Bane ’20, NBA player for the Memphis Grizzlies and youth advocate. The final mural will debut in Fort Worth in fall 2023.
Learn more about CSE’s Pre-Health Professions Institute.