SJR STATE ALUMNI SPOTLIGHTS
David Cummings (2005) — Surgeon
Each week, St. Johns River State College will honor one of its own in an alumni salute, celebrating the career milestones, community contributions and personal reflections of those who began their collegiate journey as SJR State Vikings.
Dr. David Cummings got his start at St. Johns River State College as a dual-enrollment student before transferring to the University of Florida and ultimately earning his M.D. from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in 2012. Today, he specializes in general surgery and is affiliated with the Putnam Community Medical Center in Palatka.
“By the time I graduated from high school, I already had my freshman year completed,” said Cummings. “My classes (at SJR State) were very thorough, and I had a really good foundation, especially in chemistry with Dr. Ross. And that definitely helped me when I had to go through advanced courses at the University of Florida.” Reflecting on the value he received from classes with Dr. Ross, he added, “Dr. Brown helped me out a lot, too. If I remember correctly, I believe Dr. Ross and Dr. Brown even wrote my medical school letters of recommendation. I took courses with both of them.”
At UF, Cummings finished the courses needed to apply to medical school. He recalled the difference in learning environments – the smaller classes at SJR State and the much larger classes at UF.
When working on his A.A. degree at SJR State, Cummings realized that many of his professors and people involved in his educational experience had also gotten their start at a community/state college. He believes that students starting their college journeys at smaller colleges will only become more popular. But his only regret about his time at SJR State is he wishes he would have organized his schedule in a way to have taken classes on all three campuses. “I wish I would have utilized all of the campuses more,” he said.
At SJR State, Cummings was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and a recipient of the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship and other scholarships.
One scholarship he was especially grateful for was SJR State’s then Hogan Scholarship, which funded his tuition at UF. “That was awesome and another good reason for me to have been at the College,” said Cummings. “That was a wonderful perk. I would not have had that opportunity if I had just gone straight through to a university. I still include that scholarship in my CV (curriculum vitae) today,” he noted.
After completing his studies at UF, Cummings worked for a year at the Florida Oncology Associates. “That was a nice job for getting some medical experience,” he said. Then, medical school was next. But did Cummings always aspire to become a doctor?
During his volunteer experiences as a high-school student in the emergency room (ER), Cummings said he noticed how happy the doctors there seemed with the work they did, and they confirmed that when he chatted with them. Cummings decided to follow suit. And he’s glad he did. “I really like surgery,” he stated. “I really like the fact that I can be on my feet and busy for 10 hours; I’m having a blast.”
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