Tristan Hyppolite ’22 wants to be a doctor. And not just any doctor. “Specifically, I want to be an oncologist,” he says.
It’s mid-July, and unlike many teenagers who are cooling off at the beach or spending time with friends, Tristan has come to Xaverian to speak about his recent experience at the Congress of Future Medical Leaders. He’s excited as he describes the conference. “It’s intended for students between high school and early college who want to be physicians or work in the medical field in some capacity. Really, it’s for anyone who wants to make a difference. You get to listen to physicians and people involved in medical research, and then from the other perspective, you hear from patients.” He tells me that the two-day conference (during which he earned a “Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence”) helped to solidify his plans to be an oncologist. “I felt it motivated me more on the path that I’ve always known I want to take,” he says.
How can he, at the age of 17, already know with such certainty what he wants to do with his life? He’s a sincere young man, quiet, and deliberate, and he doesn’t hesitate to explain that for him, it’s personal.
“In 2014, my grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer, on my Mom’s side. As he went through his treatment and was starting to get out of the woods, my grandmother on my Mom’s side was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and my Dad’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.” After 13 months, he tells me, his maternal grandmother passed away. Witnessing the experiences of his grandparents only solidified that which he says he has known since he was four.
“I always said I want to help people,” Tristan tells me. “I don’t know why, but at four I just said I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I know kids change, but I’ve never changed. I know that as a doctor, I can make a difference in other people’s lives.”
Having witnessed his grandparents’ battles with cancer and losing his grandmother to the disease, he knows part of being an oncologist is having difficult conversations with patients and families. “I think part of being a doctor is being strong,” he replied. “You have those tough conversations when things don’t go as expected. But when things are difficult, when I need help, I always go to my faith.”
Faith has been a constant for Tristan throughout his life. He attended a Catholic elementary school (St. John’s in Canton) and once he became a Hawk here at Xaverian, he immersed himself in the campus ministry experience. He serves as a peer minister and eucharistic minister and even earned the honor of being one of the handful of students selected to attend the Xaverian Brothers Sponsored Schools national retreat. As he enters his senior year, Tristan reflects on his experience as a Hawk. “The moment I walked in Xaverian, I just felt like this is the place I was supposed to be. I didn’t feel that elsewhere. I have made a lot of connections here, which was something I was worried about, but it came naturally.”
When asked how he would define “Strong,” in keeping with our Redefining Strong campaign, Tristan said, “Strong is believing in yourself and having motivation.” Tristan is certainly embodying this strength every day as he takes one deliberate step after another toward his goal of helping others.