VOLUME 33, NUMBER 20 THURSDAY, March 7, 2002

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Building on a 100-year family legacy at UB
Austin Price, Class of 2005, is fourth-generation science major at the university

Reporter Assistant Editor

Building a legacy takes time—commitment to a dream whose origin traces back almost 100 years takes determination. For Austin Price, a fourth-generation UB science major, the dream of following in the footsteps of her great-grandfather, Joseph Schweitzer, a 1905 graduate of the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, also carries with it a sense of destiny.
  Austin Price, Class of 2005, has followed in the footsteps of her great-grandfather, Joseph Schweitzer, a 1905 graduate of the UB medical school.

Price, a 2001 graduate of Brighton High School in Rochester who is majoring in biological sciences at UB, is the youngest of no fewer than 10 relatives who have attended the university over the course of a century.

It is that sense of history and Price's interest in pediatrics that has inspired her to pursue a medical career. Combine that with the fact that her great-grandfather was a successful Buffalo surgeon for 47 years and his wife a military nurse during WWI—and the knowledge that at least six other relatives also graduated from UB's medical school—and one can sense the pressure, as well as the promise, such a legacy entails.

"It's always in the back of my mind. I would see photographs of him (her great-grandfather) operating and it was so different back then. It would be great 100 years after he graduated for his great-granddaughter to graduate from the same place, with the same major," says Price. "The legacy did have a huge impact—it was a huge issue when I was choosing a college," she adds. Price also had to weigh the possibility of becoming a third-generation student at the University of Massachusetts, where her paternal grandparents met and her father and his three younger brothers graduated.

Price says she knew she wanted to become a doctor as early as her freshman year in high school and has since sought out every opportunity to gain hands-on experience, including volunteering in the emergency room and radiology department at Rochester General Hospital and at Elmwood Pediatrics in Rochester, the largest pediatric practice in New York State. "I absolutely loved it," she says, and by her sophomore year, with the help of a physician, Price wrote a biology thesis on coin ingestion that was later published in a pediatric magazine. This summer, she plans to return to work at the pediatric clinic. "I'm just constantly learning in that environment," she said. "They motivate me to become a doctor."

While Price has a great deal of immediate and extended family support, she admits that getting through the next couple of years is going to be tough. "The course work is very demanding and the challenge, at times, seems extremely overwhelming, which I expected," she says. UB alumnus Jo Schweitzer, Price's aunt, an occupational therapist for 27 years, and clinical assistant professor and academic field coordinator in the UB Department of Occupational Therapy, described her family's push toward achievement as almost a mandate to obtain an advanced degree and become self-supporting.

"We were all public school educated and told, 'you will go (to college) and you will become something.' There was a value for service and self-reliance—the message was very clear," she adds.

Like her niece, Schweitzer also is aware of Joseph's continuing impact on her life. She still meets people who say that her grandfather delivered them and one person even repaid a small debt to her that he owed her grandfather. "Even though I never met my grandfather, I feel I have a strong connection to him," she says. "The family is very rooted in Buffalo; we're Western New York people," she adds. And with nine cousins yet to make their way through elementary and high school, the legacy is certain to continue.