Primed for Success: Michelle DaCosta

Feb. 21, 2011

By Sarah VanMetre, U-M Athletic Communications Coordinator

Michelle DaCosta (2002-05) did it all for the University of Michigan women's tennis team.

A four-year All-Big Ten selection, DaCosta is one of only two Wolverines to qualify for both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships in the same year. Finishing her career with a 74-63 singles mark and a 79-56 doubles record, DaCosta helped the Wolverines to four straight NCAA appearances while making three of her own during her time in Ann Arbor.

Fast forward six years and DaCosta is about to graduate from the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University with her MD. Even with Ann Arbor and her playing career in her rearview mirror, her time at Michigan has had an impact on her future career.

"I think my time at Michigan played a huge role with where I am now," DaCosta said. "What was so nice about going to Michigan is that it is such a strong school, both academically and athletically. We have such great resources there with the tennis center, weight room, places to work out and all the academic support. Bitsy (Ritt) was such a great coach and understanding of our demands as student-athletes.

"2011 is a big year for me," DaCosta said. "It will be my 10-year high school reunion, five years since I graduated from Michigan and I am done with medical school in May. I am really excited for the future, but no matter where I end up, I am always reminded of Michigan. Whenever I interview places and it comes up that I went to Michigan and played tennis there, people are always amazed by that because of the reputation the University of Michigan has. That is one of the things that you don't realize when you are there, how highly everyone regards Michigan. Once you are done, that is when it hits you what a great opportunity it was to study and play a sport at Michigan."

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2006 with a degree in biopsychology and cognitive science, DaCosta took a year off while applying for medical school. During her time off, she spent time as a substitute teacher in the Ann Arbor area, as well as for the Colin Powell Academy in Detroit.

"It was a good thing for me to take a year off between finishing school and going to medical school," DaCosta explained. "It gave me time to study for the MCATs and for the first time, I could travel and take time for myself; I could do things that I did not have time for as a student-athlete. I did not plan on taking a year off, but I was trying to figure out where I wanted to be in the future."

Looking to stay in the Midwest, choosing Wright State was an easy choice for DaCosta, who hails from Dayton, Ohio. That choice was even better when she applied and received a full scholarship for tuition at the school.

In addition to her clinical rotations, studying, working and more studying, DaCosta is the Region V Director of the Student National Medical Association, a medical student group for minorities that is trying to get rid of health care discrepancies for minorities.

"I found the group during my first year of medical school. I really believed in the mission statement, and I wanted to get more involved," DaCosta said of joining the organization and then becoming a director. "It is such a nice outlet and I have been able to meet more minority students across the country. It is a great way to network."

With the end of medical school near, the next step for DaCosta is finding out where she will begin her career. She applied for a residency in anesthesiology after deciding that it was the perfect field for her.

"For me, I went to medical school thinking something surgical, but I always wanted to keep my options open and take in all the opportunities that I could," DaCosta explained of her specialty choice. "I enjoyed most of my rotations, but I did not love any of them. The good thing with this field is that you can see so many different populations, from pregnant women to children. You can also work in the clinical care unit. You still have that medicine background but can go into the operating room. You can be around the big surgery cases and all the different specialties. It is just a nice mix of everything that I was interested in."

March 17 is the day DaCosta finds out where she is headed for her anesthesiology internship and residency. She hopes to stay in the Midwest once again, just like her college choice of Michigan. No matter where she ends up, DaCosta is primed for success.

2011 Black History Month