Ready to Do: A Reflection on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s High School Experience

Dr. Anthony Fauci and his basketball team at Regis High School.

Ready to Do: A Reflection on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s High School Experience

By Brendan D. Thomson, MD and William Gallaher, PhD                                                      

To understand the Dr. Anthony Fauci, MD, of today, it is useful to learn of Dr. Fauci’s formative years at Regis High School in New York. As fellow graduates of Regis High School, we would like to share about Dr. Fauci’s high school experience and how his early education impacted his future leadership.

Regis was then – and is now – the leading Catholic high school in the United States. It is highly selective and is the only tuition-free private preparatory school in the United States.

On the first Tuesday of September 1954, Dr. Fauci left his home above his family’s pharmacy in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn, entered the local subway station to later emerge at 86th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. He walked the two short blocks to 85th Street and Park Avenue and entered Regis High School through the historic “Regis Tunnel.”

The academic program at Regis was rigorous. A third of students who entered with Dr. Fauci in 1954 would not graduate. In addition to four years of Latin and two years of a modern language, each student was required to study three years of classic Greek.

At Regis, Dr. Fauci was exposed to beloved educator Father Stephen V. Duffy, S.J., Homer’s The Odyssey and its hero, Odysseus, the “role model” for the ancient Greeks. The single word used to describe Odysseus in the first line of the Odyssey was polutropos; its connotation is multi-turning and resourceful.

Dr. Fauci also loved basketball and in his senior year was captain of the varsity team. Before each game, and on many other occasions, he would sing the words of the Regis fight song:

May ours be the noble heart,
Strong to endure,
Daring ‘tho’ skies be dark and roadways unsure,
May ours be the heroes part
Ready to do                       

The Dr. Fauci of today was forged by his spirited leadership in high school and his early classical education. This was exemplified during these times of significant public health threats when Dr. Fauci maintained solid dedication to truth and accuracy. Like Odysseus, he was polutropos as he guided his coworkers at the National Institutes Health, Congress, United States presidents, the medical community, and the at-risk public.

As individuals and as a society, we need role models, leaders, mentors as other dark skies and unsure roadways shall occur. Dr. Anthony Fauci, with “noble heart…and ready to do,” is such a role model.

Drs. Thomson and Gallaher graduated from Regis High School in 1962, four years after Dr. Fauci graduated. Drs. Thomson, Gallaher and Fauci’s professional paths crossed in the 1980’s during their work combatting the AIDS epidemic.

Brendan D. Thomson, MD, MBA, is a Fulbright alumnus to Nepal (2013) and Vietnam (2015). He is a 1946 Society member.

William Gallaher, PhD, is Professor Emeritus Virology at Louisiana State University.

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