Dr. Varun Rachakonda and Dr. Jordan Goldberg: Class of 2013 Leadership Award

Dr Varun Rachakonda, left, and Dr. Jordan Goldberg
Dr Varun Rachakonda, left, and Dr. Jordan Goldberg

By Lin Lofley

A friendship forged as undergraduates at Stanford University and strengthened as students at UT Southwestern Medical School has yielded another benefit for Dr. Jordan Goldberg and Dr. Varun Rachakonda.

The pair, who served four years as co-presidents of the Class of 2013, received the Leadership Award that is presented annually to the student officers.

Dr. Goldberg and Dr. Rachakonda got to know each other at Stanford when the former was class president and the latter was president of the Stanford Student Biodesign organization. They lived a couple of doors down from each other in the dormitory, and when Dr. Rachakonda came to Dallas to interview for admission to medical school, he stayed with Dr. Goldberg’s parents at their Plano home.

Both will soon head off to their respective radiology residencies. Dr. Goldberg will spend a year at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, followed by a four-year term at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, which is affiliated with Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Rachakonda will go to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, then to Rochester (N.Y.) General Hospital.

“It was a real pleasure to work with Jordan and Varun during their four years as co-presidents of the Class of 2013,” said Wes Norred, Vice President of Student and Alumni Affairs. “Not only were they quite effective in representing the needs of their class, they were thoughtful and visionary leaders in addressing an array of student needs across the Medical Center. Their leadership skills served UT Southwestern Medical Center well, as I am sure those same qualities will serve them well in their careers.”

Dr. Varun Rachakonda

After his sophomore year as a biomechanical engineering major at Stanford, Dr. Rachakonda decided on medical school. Once at UT Southwestern, the Houston native realized that his leadership talents could make a difference.

“Jordan and I both have an interest in leadership, a knack for it,” said Dr. Rachakonda, who also served as co-president of the South Asian Medical Students Association. “We’ve been able to act as go-betweens for our classmates in many instances.”

Originally interested in urology as a specialty, Dr. Rachakonda later changed course.

“Urology was a rough match for me,” he said, “and it forced me to reconsider other fields. Radiology is a hands-on specialty, and there are a lot of things you can do there.”

Dr. Jordan Goldberg

Not long ago Dr. Goldberg received a message from his fifth-grade teacher, with a little memento enclosed: It was a picture of a boy wearing a lab coat at elementary school career day.

“I knew what I wanted to do, even before fifth grade,” said Dr. Goldberg, a graduate of Plano Senior High School. “My mother was a nurse in pediatric hematology/oncology for many years and my sister, Dr. Sarah Chandler, is a Breast Imaging Fellow at UT Southwestern, and a member of the Class of 2007.”

Having been active in student leadership at Stanford, it felt natural to pursue such roles in medical school.

“Varun and I are both ambitious, and we both wanted to help our classmates here at UT Southwestern,” Dr. Goldberg said. “Along the way, we were able to be involved in curriculum reforms, including an increase in resources for preparing for the STEP examinations that all medical students take.”

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