Thursday, June 5, 2014

Leo Congenie '10 Shows How Strong Foundations Lead to Success

Elmhurst College Alumnus, Leo Congenie, graduated in May 2014 from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Leo took time recently to answer a few questions for us about his experiences before and during vet school that led to his successful completion of a very rigorous academic program. 

1.)    What experiences or courses at EC prepared you most for vet school?
I drew from the information I learned in all of my biology and chemistry classes. If I had to choose the class that prepared me the most, especially for first year, it would have to be Advanced Cell Biology. Not only did I draw from exact mechanisms studied in the course, it taught me how cells behave aiding me in understanding pharmacology, disease mechanisms, toxicology, and many other subjects in the veterinary medicine program. As I recall, that class taught me to interpret studies, which continues to be an invaluable skill to this day.

2.)    What was one of the most meaningful or interesting experiences you had during vet school?
Although there were many great experiences, I would have to choose my time spent working in Nicaragua. It was my first clinical rotation, and I was bathed in the responsibility of being a doctor. I was given surgery after surgery. Most surgeries were routine, such as spays and neuters, but others involved more complex, disease curing skills. Not only was it my first experience with turning knowledge into medicine, I was introduced to a world that had little to no resources. I had to learn to trust myself instead of relying on machines, and it gave me a great appreciation for what we have at our disposal in the United States.

Leo is shown here in the operating room while in Nicaragua.

3.)    What are your plans now that vet school is over? 

Now that I have graduated I will be starting my practice in small animal medicine at the Banfield in Naperville, Illinois. I hope to develop as a veterinary professional and to open my own hospital within the next 5-10 years. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Preparing for Med School: Amy Du '11 Shares Her Insights

Amy Du is an Elmhurst College (EC) alumnus who is in her second year of medical school at Pennsylvania State University. Prior to enrolling at Penn State, she completed a master’s degree at Northwestern University in epidemiology and biostatistics. Since graduating from EC, Amy has pursued her interest in global health initiatives by taking service trips to Panama, Peru and Nicaragua. Below she answered a few questions for us about her experiences and shared some useful advice for other students.

1.) What experiences did you have at Elmhurst that helped prepare you the most for professional school?

My research experience with Dr. Stacey Raimondi on metastatic breast cancer was a great introduction to evidence-based science. Our team had the opportunity to present our research at conferences and publish our work. These experiences were foundational in guiding me through my master’s thesis. Additionally, the Advanced Human Anatomy course taught by Dr. James Berry was right on target in preparing me for my anatomy class in medical school.  

2. What did you appreciate most about your Elmhurst experience?

I definitely appreciated the personal relationships I formed with my professors and with the staff in various departments at EC. By the end of my four years at EC, I felt so at home. Whether it was scholarships or professional development, I received a lot of support from EC staff and faculty to help me thrive after graduation. Of course, this included the PCHP, especially Erica Ashauer, who assisted me throughout the medical school application process. I am truly grateful and proud to tell others about my alma mater.

3. What are some of the best aspects of attending Penn State for medical school in your opinion?

Penn State's emphasis on the humanities is a highlight for me. The curriculum is not only training me to become a knowledgeable and component physician, but also a socially responsible and compassionate care provider. Many of the physicians are personable and willing to take time to meet with students and encourage students to shadow them. The administration is also very responsive to student feedback. There is a tremendous sense of camaraderie within the student body. Upper-class students are always willing to provide advice and we share helpful resources with each other through social networks.  

4. What are your plans after graduating from medical school?

I have some idea of what I enjoy within the medical profession. However, I cannot say for certain which specialty I will choose until my clinical rotations during third and fourth year. Global health will definitely continue to play a large role throughout my training and career. I hope to match to a residency that will support my passion for global health. One thing is for certain, I am ready to move to somewhere with warmer climates.

5. Are there recommendations you have for current undergraduates as they are preparing to become physicians or other health care professionals?

In retrospect, I would have taken microbiology and Dr. Raimondi's cell biology classes. These topics appear throughout the medical curriculum and are clinically relevant, so setting that foundation in college would have been helpful. I would advise medical school applicants to become knowledgeable about the application process earlier rather than later. Getting the insights from reliable sources informs you of what your options are and how you can avoid common pitfalls. It is important to be sincere in your application and your interviews. If medicine is truly the profession for you, your passion will shine through. Getting accepted to a US medical school is more challenging for international students. I encourage international students to speak to international medical students who have been through the process about their experiences. Finally, it is okay to take time off between college and medical school if it is the right fit for you. I deferred my enrollment to Penn State to pursue a master’s degree at Northwestern University. Getting a degree in epidemiology and biostatistics has enriched my medical school experience and enhanced my understanding of evidence-based medicine. I also studied Medical Spanish during that year, which helped tremendously with my international service trips over the past 2 years. I wish you a good journey as you continue to pursue your passion in medicine. It is not an easy path to take, but certainly a rewarding one.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Turning a Triple Into a Home Run: Bukowski Scores with Three Internships

Clare Bukowski is an exercise science major at Elmhurst College with minors in psychology and coaching. As captain of the Bluejay softball team, Clare naturally has an interest in sports, health, and fitness. She is pursuing a career in sports administration at the collegiate level with hopes of becoming an athletic director. To prepare for her professional journey, Clare held internship positions at three different sites. Below she shares some of her experiences and what she learned being an intern.

The three internships I have completed have prepared me for both graduate school and graduate assistantships.  Last summer I interned with the Chicago Bandits professional softball team.  I did on-field promotions, interactions with fans, teams, and players while using a microphone on the field and in the stands.  I also worked with the public selling merchandise, tickets, creating promotional material and working as a guest relations specialist as well as a team liaison. This internship also allowed me to work with Olympian Jennie Finch during her two day camp hosted by the Bandits.  I experienced the amount of work needed to run a small professional sports team. 

 Clare (right) shown here with Olympic softball player, Jennie Finch.

I also worked with Benedictine University Athletic Department during the fall of 2013.  I worked first hand with a college athletic department.  I assisted with on field promotions as well as learned how to run live statistics during college games.  I sat in on meetings and discovered the work that went into planning weekly home athletic contests.  I became an integral team member with other members of the athletic department, specifically with the director of sports marketing at Benedictine.

Finally, I interned with Immaculate Conception College Prep Athletic Department.  I created game day media guides for the fall home tournaments, worked as an official scorer for both volleyball and basketball games, and helped the assistant athletic director and the athletic director with a variety of tasks.  I continue to help ICCP during their winter sports season.

My three internships not only have taught me skills I cannot simply learn in the classroom, they have also put me in the best position possible to enter graduate school and hopefully earn a graduate assistantship.