LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — At 12 years old, Vlad Zhitny emigrated to the United States from Ukraine with his family without knowing a single English word.
The pre-teen attempted to soak up as much information as he could as fast as he could through any source possible.
"You have to embrace the culture," he said. "Watching things like 'Spongebob' or 'South Park' to get you caught up on the sarcasm portion of it, which was the hardest part to understand."
That thirst for knowledge continued through his adulthood, landing Zhitny a founding spot in UNLV's Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, where he's excelled.
Zhitny's forte has come with medical research, where he's published 18 papers in medical journals.
"The national average is about 5.6 papers," he said.
Zhitny attributed his success to hard work and a dedication to helping others.
He didn't want to talk about the war plaguing his homeland as Russian bombs, missiles, and troops terrorize cities and towns across Ukraine.
He did say, however, that a-month-and-a-half from graduation as war continues across the globe, a commitment to humanity keeps him going.
"I still have family in Ukraine," he said. "You have to keep going. You always know that your family is counting on you, whether here in America or back in Ukraine."
Zhitny said that once he's a doctor, he won't simply work and make money. He said research will still be a critical component of his life so other lives can be saved.
After graduation, Zhitny will begin a one-year residency in Las Vegas and then travel to New York University to become an anesthesiologist.