One of a collection of articles on the class of 2005, published in their fifth reunion year.

After graduating from the University of Richmond in 2005, Zach Dorey-Stein moved to Washington for internships for advocacy organizations Children's Defense Fund, Bread for the World and Families USA. His work at Families USA, a health care advocacy organization, influenced his understanding of how political change occurs. From that experience, he discovered he wanted to work in a field that provided the opportunity to examine health disparities.

With this in mind, he moved back to his hometown of Philadelphia in the fall of 2006 and began work as a research specialist to an epidemiologist at the University of Pennsylvania. His research during the past four years has focused on identifying barriers to successful Hepatitis C treatment. He has also researched HIV and Hepatitis C co-infection because of the high co-infection rates of HIV in the Hepatitis C population. Some of the more groundbreaking studies he has taken part in include investigating the transmission of HIV in South Africa and coordinating an HIV vaccine trial.

Dorey-Stein had intended to pursue a master's degree in public health. But, after his time in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Penn, he thinks medicine is his profession--with its intellectural challenge and hands-on clinical opportunities. He is finishing prerequisites at Temple University and plans to apply to medical school this summer.

Dorey-Stein--a leadership studies major and religion minor--was a Bonner scholar and one of the first interns for the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement. He received a Burrus Fellowship his junior year that allowed him to travel to the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota to work with Lakota children. As a sophomore he founded Global Outreach, an interfaith group that provided a venue for dialogue on faith, race, and social justice, as well as tutoring programs and opportunities to volunteer in Richmond prisons.

As you reflect on your time as an undergraduate, what experiences stand out now?

The most valuable experiences I had at the University of Richmond revolved around the friendships I created while volunteering in Creighton Court, a public housing sector in Richmond. Although I provided tutoring to neighborhood children over a four-year period, the opportunity exposed me directly to the rampant social inequalities that affect a disproportionate number of people in this country. Having witnessed firsthand the ramifications of inadequate educational, legal and health care, my experience in Creighton Court dictated the curriculum I pursued at Richmond, my thesis, and provided the backbone for the work I have pursued since graduating from the University of Richmond.

What was your favorite aspect of being a Richmond or Jepson student?  

Dr. Joanne Ciulla's Critical Thinking course taught me how to formulate well-balanced arguments as well as how to identify flawed logic and assumptions. I have applied the skills that I developed in that class to design study protocols and also to write research abstracts and papers.

The senior thesis ("Church Politics: Comprehending the Political Nature of Desmond Tutu's Ecclesiology") that I completed under Dr. Douglas Hicks’ tutelage was an equally excellent experience. It was a unique opportunity to create and execute a paper under the direct supervision of a professor. Meeting with Dr. Hicks each week to discuss and review my ideas provided the support as well as the drive needed to complete such an undertaking. The ability to synthesize a number of different sources into a coherent train of thought has been an invaluable experience.

How has your academic work shaped your personal, civic or professional life?  

The most important facet of the leadership major has been the ability to synthesize information from a variety of different sources and fields. The multi-disciplinary approach of the leadership school requires students to develop skills to synthesize large, diverse quantities of information from different fields into a coherent paper or presentation. Epidemiology requires this skill as a pre-requisite in order to create a successful abstract or paper. While not a skill that can be explicitly advertised, it is the difference between getting a grant or not, between being published or not. The heart of my job involves sorting through large databases of disorganized information to create a paper or abstract that can improve the standard of care for co-infected populations.

Ethics can be intellectually mastered but not embodied, and the School's focus on this quandary is significant. Any work of substance that assists in propelling society forward must have a moral component. As Wall Street or faulty science demonstrates, time will show the foundations to be a sham. More notably, the quality of life for a group of individuals, or society at large, will suffer. Perhaps, some of these failings could be avoided, or at least the severity could have been limited, if we as a society assume greater public accountability.

What advice would you give students who are graduating this year about how to prepare for life after college and to make good choices for their future?

The students who are graduating this year are entering a remarkably different world from the one I was dropped into five years ago.  I would strongly encourage students to be willing to get out of the “academic bubble” for at least a year and try something that they think they may have an interest in, regardless of the pay grade…or if the pay grade doesn’t exist. I did the former, and the latter, found ways to pay the bills, and along the way found a line of work that I not only really enjoy, but would never have dreamed of pursuing while at Richmond. This is great.

When you graduated, were you one of those students with a plan in mind for your life? If so, how did all that work for you and what lessons have you learned?

I didn’t have a “master plan” when I graduated, which has worked well for me. I can attest to the cliché that the overwhelming majority of 21 year olds, myself included, don’t understand “how the world works.” Take your time, find something you have a passion for 60 percent of the time that sustains you through the other 40 percent. Be flexible pursuing a goal that you might not have previously entertained.  

Where do you imagine yourself five years from now? What are your next steps, plans and dreams?

Five years ago I didn’t think I’d be where I am right now, but hopefully I’ll be somewhere on the northern part of the West Coast in a medical residency.