As a professor emeritus of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark, Dr. Lawrence Budnick ’74 is perfectly poised to mentor aspiring physicians. Now semi-retired, he served on the admissions committee at the school during his more than 45-year career: He knows what makes for a winning application. Passing this “inside” knowledge on is what he had in mind when he reached out to the Magner Career Center to volunteer as a mentor, participating in a luncheon last November, where he met with prospective medical students and set up mock interviews.

“I remember not having that type of guidance when I was planning my career and wanted to give that kind of support to today’s students,” he says.

A native of Brooklyn, Budnick graduated from Sheepshead Bay High School. During the open admissions policy that allowed New York residents to attend any City University of New York school for free, he enrolled at Brooklyn College, earning a B.A. degree in 1974. Budnick graduated from SUNY Downstate Medical School (now SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University) in 1977 and attended Harvard School of Public Health, where he received his master’s degree in public health the same year.

Israa Ismail ’22, a Scholars Program student who majored in psychology, with a minor in chemistry, agrees that mentorship is the key.

“Dr. Budnick has been a tremendous support and given me great advice throughout my entire interviewing process,” says Ismail, who is taking a gap year to work in healthcare policy.

“Of course, all schools have different criteria, but one thing we look for is any sort of clinical work, or work in the field,” says Budnick, who has also worked at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, where he was an epidemic intelligence service officer. He was also a medical epidemiologist with the U.S. Public Health Service, and a clinical assistant professor at the Department of Environmental & Community Medicine, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Ismail certainly fulfills the criteria for a student already working in the field.

As a global health policy coordinator at the American Medical Students Association, she is concerned with disparities in underserved communities. She has also participated in the COVID-19 Navigation Project at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to understand the effects of vaccine hesitancy on Arab American immigrant populations undergoing chemotherapy.

Marwa Islam is another student who has benefited from Budnick’s advice and support. Islam, a Macaulay Honors student who graduates this May with a B.S. in chemistry on a pre-med track, reached out to the Magner Center for help prepping for her medical school interviews. The center’s director, Natalia Guarin-Klein, connected her with the doctor, and a mock interview was scheduled.

“He gave me so many tips on how to improve my interviewing style,” says Islam.

“What questions that might come up, how to prepare for those questions, what to review, what to pay attention to.” He provided hints that Islam says did not show up in online searches, information that only someone with experience in medical school admissions can give. “I’ve been on interviews, and they’ve gone very well thanks to Dr. Budnick’s help.”

To enrich its mentorship programs, Brooklyn College is seeking more than 200 alumni to participate in various mentor initiatives in 2023. Through events and one-on-one mentoring, alumni can help students gain clarity on their career interests and develop a plan to reach their goals. All interested alumni may contact Magner Career Center Director Natalia Guarin-Klein at for more information.