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Alumni Stories

Following Different Paths: Matt '02 and Derek '05 Boelig

We are both very fortunate to have attended Derryfield and being there as siblings made the experience all the more memorable and special. We were able to share experiences in the classroom and learn from each other, the incredible faculty, and our fellow students. Some of our fondest memories together were outside the classroom, like manning the middle infield for the baseball team and playing saxophone together for the jazz band. We are both thankful to reconnect with the Derryfield community and share how being a Cougar has led us down the path to where we are today.
Matt Boelig ’02
One unique aspect of being a physician is that we must be lifelong learners. The field of medicine is constantly evolving—knowledge becomes obsolete overnight and is supplanted by the findings of elegant randomized controlled trials, translational research, and basic science. As I look back at four years of undergraduate study, four years of medical school, and seven years of general surgery residency, I firmly believe that my years at Derryfield were some of the most formative. Derryfield was and remains a special place because of its talented students, dedicated faculty, and small class style. The inquisitive mind, work ethic, and knowledge base that I developed at Derryfield have been invaluable to me.
Becoming a pediatric surgeon, let alone a physician, was not exactly what I had in mind after graduation from Derryfield. My interest in natural science was fostered by the teaching and mentorship of Dr. Sanford, Mr. Holland, Mr. Bradley, and Mr. Cousineau, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I might apply it. As a freshman at Yale, I impulsively signed up for an EMT-Basic course and was more excited by the material than my actual courses. As I learned about trauma physiology, CPR, and other in-field skills, I quickly realized that I wanted to study medicine and applied myself feverishly to that end.
Perhaps the one experience that drove me the most towards surgery was cadaver lab in the first year of medical school at Johns Hopkins. That someone had donated their body to us in the name of education was selfless and beautiful to me. I poured through anatomy textbooks and the dissector guide and corroborated my new anatomic knowledge with the formalin-fixed tissues before me, marveling at their intricacies and the occasional unexpected pathology— the thickened right ventricle that suggested chronic pulmonary hypertension, or the small hemangioma within the brown flesh of the liver. I carried this experience with me into the operating room as a student and found joy in the challenges—both mental and physical—of operating.
My seven years as a general surgery resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania were the hardest and most rewarding years of my life. I learned how to perform complex gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, and thoracic surgery, and even spent two years conducting basic science on prenatal stem cell therapies. Most importantly, I had the privilege of caring for a diverse set of patients and was always impressed by their tenacity in the face of illness.
I am fortunate to be able to continue my training and will be starting a two-year fellowship in Pediatric General, Thoracic, and Fetal Surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. My wife, Dr. Rupsa Boelig, is a fellow in Maternal Fetal Medicine at Thomas Jefferson Hospital, and we both expect to finish our fellowships in two years. We live with our two year old son, Simon, and our beagle Wolfgang in the City of Brotherly Love.
Derek Boelig ’05
At my wedding rehearsal dinner last year, my dad surprised us and our guests by presenting the “life map” I made at Derryfield. It was a riveting ten minutes—there were my dreams of studying astronomy, playing wide receiver for the Patriots, and retiring from football to become an astronaut at age 30. Needless to say, none of that has actually happened, but the event had me reflecting on my time at Derryfield and its influence on my life today— and much like my “life map,” the last 13 years have been full of unexpected twists and turns.
Derryfield was a place that pushed and challenged me, while also always encouraging creativity and critical thinking. After Derryfield, I went on to study Accounting at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, and was lucky to meet my wife Cristina there. After receiving my master’s degree, I came to the realization that accounting was not actually for me, and accepted a consulting job in New York City. After five years consulting, I took a risk to join the tech startup world in Manhattan.
I ended up entering a relatively new and growing field called Sales Operations managing my company’s CRM (customer relations management) platform, Salesforce.com. My roles over the past few years have been a blend of technology implementation, sales strategy, and sales enablement/training. I had never heard of any of these things in high school, but they all require a set of core skills that Derryfield helped mold in me: ambition, creative and quick problem solving, relationship building, and most importantly professional adaptivity and flexibility. In the startup world you see and learn new things every day and have to be ready to react and respond with the rest of your team. Having been a part of many spectrums of corporate life, this is where I have happily settled and can imagine plenty of students from Derryfield have and will end up. I have been fortunate to be part of two successful companies and learn how to support and grow a sales organization. My current company, Yext, Inc., recently went public, which was a truly incredible experience.
Cristina and I live in Hoboken, NJ, which is a vibrant little city across the river from Manhattan. Like my years spent at Derryfield, I spend a lot of my free time partaking in activities outside of work. Cristina and I have a dog named Mia and frequently foster puppies while they are looking for a forever home. I’m still playing golf and basketball regularly and have picked up competitive running in the past few years (I hope to run the Boston Marathon in the near future). Derryfield definitely taught me the importance of hard work and balancing life with things I enjoy outside of my day to day.
Matt Boelig ’02
Pediatric General, Thoracic, and Fetal Surgery Fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Derek Boelig ’05
Sales Operations Manager at Salesforce.com

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