University of Vermont

A Long Journey to the Start of a Medical Career

Mutlay Sayan, Class of 2016

Mutlay Sayan ’16 remembers, as a young teen, watching students walk in to the school across the street from the factory in Istanbul where he worked alongside his mother.   He dreaded the thought of a life spent in that factory, working up to 12 to 15 hours at a time.  So one day he made what he calls the “biggest decision” of his life.

“I went to the school and asked for help,” he said.  “That was the action that brought me to the US.”

The school’s headmaster wound up awarding him a scholarship, and from there, Sayan went on to graduate first in his class, study business at Istanbul University, then come to Manchester, Vt., as part of a work-travel program.

He knew that, ultimately, he wanted to be a doctor.

Sayan got another scholarship and a visa, and enrolled at Community College of Vermont. After a few semesters taking classes and learning English, he transferred to UVM with a major in economics, but with his sights set on medical school.

For three years he worked in the lab with Brooke Mossman, PhD. That work dovetailed with his interest in – and personal connection to – the study of cancer: his father had been diagnosed with lung cancer when Sayan was 11.

Now a first-year medical student, Sayan is on his way to his goal of becoming an oncologist.  He received his White Coat at the ceremony in October, with his mother in the audience.  “It was very emotional,” he said.  “She was crying through the whole thing.”

Sayan is now looking forward to the time he can make a difference in people’s lives, both with medicine and with a compassionate presence. “I can’t wait to start seeing patients and really connecting with them,” he said.  “It’s not just the patient that you treat; it’s the whole family.”