Marlene Cutitar ’79

Marlene Cutitar with a friend

Marlene Cutitar and her 1979 classmates recently celebrated their 35th Wheeler Reunion. Marlene shared the following reflection about this milestone, "Reunion provides a unique opportunity to reaffirm our love of our families who sacrificed so much for the privilege to attend Wheeler, of our classmates who inspired us to excel, of our faculty who challenged us to explore, and of our alma mater whose motto "The Spirit Giveth Life" perpetually motivates us."

On an earlier visit to campus, several classmates described Marlene as "one of the brightest in the class, whom we so admire." They recounted her long hair, which she still wears today, and her prompt placement in the front row in all of her classes. Since graduation, she has remained front and center in volunteering and supporting Wheeler. Marlene served on the Board of Trustees for six years and has been a donor for over twenty. In 2009, at the time of her 30th Reunion, she named Wheeler as the beneficiary to a generous portion of her estate which will be used to establish the "The Cutitar Family Scholarship Fund."

Marlene's scholarship fund will provide financial assistance to Wheeler students for generations. When asked why she has made this investment in Wheeler's future, Marlene explained, "My parents were always advocates for education and their investment in my education was the best gift they ever gave me. I learned the tradition of giving to education from them and I want to continue advocating for education after I am gone. Education is the one thing that can never be taken away from you."

A native of North Smithfield, Rhode Island, Marlene attended Wheeler for only her junior and senior years.  Entering a new school with an already established class could have been awkward, but Marlene described the class as open and welcoming and the teachers engaging. While at Wheeler, the availability of science classes cultivated her interest in medicine. The late Ted Tuttle, then the director of guidance, encouraged her to take the AP courses offered at Wheeler and made Marlene aware of the opportunities in the field of Science after Wheeler. With the support of her parents she entered Brown University's seven year medical program. 

Having started practicing general surgery in 1992 operating at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, today Marlene runs a successful solo surgical practice with a specialty in women's breast and colon health.  She has been a leader in The Rhode Island Medical Women's Association, the American Medical Women's Association and the RI Chapter of the American College of Surgeons.

As a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University since 1994, Dr. Cutitar is responsible for teaching medical students, residents and her patients. She has served and continues to serves on numerous hospital and university committees. Her involvement in community service includes the University of RI Master Gardeners' Association and the RI Beekeepers Association. Her email username "girlsurgeon" reveals her longtime interest in promoting women in the field of medicine.

As Marlene looked back on her career, she traced her initial interest in science to Wheeler and made the choice to give future Wheeler students access to the same educational opportunity that she had.  Her goddaughter—a member of the Class of 2015—has thrived in the environment Wheeler has provided. Marlene added, "I would love to return to Wheeler as a student today—it continues to be such an exciting learning environment."