Rachel Lindor, a senior at the College of Saint Benedict from Rochester, Minn., is an English major. That's right: an English major. However, Lindor is in the pre-medicine program at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University despite that.
Although many consider a future doctor as someone totally immersed in science for his or her four years of undergraduate study, at the CSB that does not have to be the case if a student also wants to pursue other interests.
"The pre-med program is great because the professors involved with it make sure you fulfill all your requirements, but it is still very flexible," Lindor said. "For example, I am an English major, but I never had any problem getting into science classes or fitting the English classes into my schedule."
Lindor, who is also a biology minor, has always wanted to be a doctor and that is why she decided to go into the pre-med program.
"I was one of those kids that always wanted to be a doctor, but I'll admit that used to have more to do with the free pens and scrubs than anything else," she said. "During my first year of college, though, I read Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder, which really opened my eyes to the current disparities in health care, especially on a global scale.
"Since then, I've had the chance to shadow health care workers in both Thailand and Uganda, and these experiences just reinforced my interest in public health. My motivation to stick to the pre-med path has been based on the public health concerns brought to light by both my readings and these trips...although I still have a thing for the pens."
Lindor's other experiences in the program have also reinforced her desire to be a doctor.
"The professors are incredibly friendly and supportive," she said. "Most of them prefer to be called by their first names, and really make an effort to get to know you individually. They are always willing to help you out with questions on homework or any other problems you might be having. It is a huge benefit to know that the professors care about your success as much as you do."
The students in the program have also added to her pre-med experience.
"It is amazing how well you get to know other pre-med students," Lindor said. "In the courses required for the program, you always know at least a few classmates, which is good, because it makes doing homework a lot more fun to have a group of people working together. By the end of four years, you know almost everyone in the program."
Besides majoring in English, minoring in Biology, and being a part of the pre-med program, Lindor has participated in a wide range of sports and other activities.
"I participated in both soccer and track for the College of Saint Benedict," she said. "Both sports were wonderful experiences. Being on a team really is the best way to meet people at a new school, and the friendships you build definitely don't end when the season does."
Sports also taught Lindor a great deal about time management while a college student.
"Sometimes it is hard to commit the 20-30 hours a week to a sport and still keep up with school work, but doing that for four years really helped my time management skills and taught me how to be productive," she said.
However, her devotion to sports was not the only activity that required a lot of time.
"Outside of sports, I'm a member of VISTO, the student volunteer organization, and the Uganda Rural Fund, a non-profit working to construct a school and orphanage in rural Uganda," Lindor said. "I also was the teaching assistant for biochemistry, an experience that made me appreciate all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into setting up labs."
After her four years of study, she has a lot of advice to offer students considering entering the pre-med program.
"I have seen a lot of people enter the pre-med program, go through the first year of hard classes, and then decide that medicine isn't really what they want to do," she said. "After seeing this happen over and over again, I would encourage students to familiarize themselves with the requirements of the pre-med program, the prerequisites for medical school, and to really put some time into planning their careers.
"If they decide medical school isn't realistic, they won't have wasted a year on classes they don't need, and if they still want to pursue medicine, they will benefit from their new awareness of the standards they need to maintain for themselves."
Also, once a student decides that the pre-med program is for him or her, there is a lot to consider.
"Remember that medical schools look at all of your grades for all four years," Lindor said. "That is, don't slack off because you think a class isn't important, because that will come back to bite you later.
"Along those same lines, expect to have more homework and class time, because of labs, than your friends in other majors. Don't get frustrated that you can't go out as much because all your work will pay off eventually.
"Also, really take time to get to know the premedical advisors because they are great resources and love to talk."
After she graduates in the spring of 2007, Lindor plans to attend the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn.