Born and raised through her early high school years in Japan, Naaiko remembers wanting to be a doctor since she was two years old. Moving to California, she chose to attend the University of Hawaii where she majored in Psychology and made the Dean’s List. She stayed on there to complete an MS in Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, writing her thesis on “The role of Telomere interacting protein 2 (Tel2) in mTOR-mediated cardiac function”, an area of study that interests her to this day. Her work was published in the prestigious Life Sciences Journal.
Beginning her medical school journey elsewhere, Naaiko transferred to SMUSOM, finding the curriculum and small class size much more to her liking. “The way that St. Matthew’s teaches medicine is perfect for me. They go over all concepts in detail, making sure you understand the material. The professors are always available and I was able to see them whenever I had a question. This wasn’t true in my other school, and the small class size, mentor based experience for me is just a much better way to learn medicine.”
Leaving the island for her rotations (“it was such a beautiful island, safe, with so many great restaurants!”), she loved the opportunity to experience different locations. “Being at different sites in different states enabled us to make connections at multiple hospitals. It was perfect because we could then look at many places for our residency options.”
Naaiko matched into an Internal Medicine residency at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in New York. “I did some rotations here as a student, so very happy to match here. I am learning every day and seeing so many different types of medical cases that are more common in other countries because of the large immigrant population in New York.” When she isn’t working Naaiko loves to cook and is particularly enamored of her proximity to the great food of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. She plans to become a primary care physician after her residency, and shares “When I look back now on the time when I was first looking at med school I didn’t really know what was important to look for in a school. You should look for a school with a curriculum that fits your style, and will prepare you well for your exams.”