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New students follow many paths to Dartmouth

What do a ballet dancer, a combat engineering officer, and a brick-oven pizza chef have in common? All three are among the 83 first-year M.D. students whose unusual paths to DMS have ranged from running marathons in Honolulu to working with polio-afflicted children in Calcutta.

Selected from a pool of 4,947 applicants, the '06s came from 29 states and 55 undergraduate institutions. Ten were born outside the U.S.; 47% are women and 53% are men; 25% are persons of color or international students; and 11% are from racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in American medicine.

These smiling faces and brand new white coats belong to a few of DMS's 83 new M.D. students: top, from the left, Sai Li, Rodwell Mabaera, and Denis Shub; lower left, Erica Chung; and lower right, Stacey Crawford. Also matriculating this fall were an additional 100 students in half a dozen master's and doctoral programs—including the first candidates in DMS's brand new master's of public health program.
All photos: Flying Squirrel Graphics

Autobiographies: The brief autobiographies that the students wrote to introduce themselves to each other reflect an enormous variety of backgrounds. The class includes six EMTs, several Peace Corps and VISTA volunteers, a Fulbright scholar, a submarine officer, a flamenco dancer, a martial arts expert, an actor, a classical guitarist, a triple-jump specialist in track who also does embroidery, and a sea-kayak guide for L.L. Bean.

Among this eclectic group's first activities together was composing a class mission statement, shown in the adjacent box.

Some students also wrote humorously about their family life and childhood, such as Amanda Gann: "As a consequence of being sandwiched between two brothers, I was a tomboy. Dresses? Who, me?" Then, at age 15, she started "competing in ballroom dancing, wearing sequined dresses with five pounds of makeup, false eyelashes, and plastic fingernails." On a more serious note, Gann said it was cutting her hand in a car accident at age five, and seeing the "inner gooey workings," that sparked her interest in medicine.

Scott Hughes—who served as a major in the Air Force, flew nearly 60 combat missions over Iraq, and was a test pilot for B-2 and B-1 stealth bombers—enrolled in DMS to fulfill a dream that he has had since he was 15: to become an Air Force flight surgeon.

Sabrina Selim "joined the Peace Corps and spent nearly two years living in a mud hut in the middle of Niger, West Africa. The people there became like family to me. I delivered their babies, ate their food (millet, okra, and bugs), and taught basic contraception/hygiene/nutrition lessons. . . . It is still my dream to return there, or other underserved parts of the world, as a physician." Selim majored in molecular biology at the University of California at Berkeley and has worked with patients with metastatic breast cancer.

Students wrote about their research interests as well. Derek Jenkins, who graduated from Dartmouth College with an engineering degree, said his senior thesis project "encompassed the design and construction of a bioreactor simulating the physiologic environment necessary for proper hyaline articular cartilage differentiation." Jenkins added that he hopes to continue his hobbies of "sculpting, woodcarving, and rebuilding classic cars" while he's at DMS.

Five of the '06s are enrolled in the M.D.-Ph.D. program— three in molecular and cellular biology and two in pharmacology and toxicology. They join 26 students already in the M.D.- Ph.D. program.

Candidates: There are also 38 new doctoral candidates in the biomedical sciences—27 in molecular and cellular biology, nine in pharmacology, and two in physiology.

In addition, the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences (CECS) welcomed 21 new master's degree students, three new Ph.D. candidates, and 38 new M.P.H. students. They join 37 continuing CECS students and 4 postdoctoral CECS fellows.

Whatever program they're entering, the new students tend to cite Dartmouth's collegiality as an important factor in their coming here. Wrote medical student Roman Johnson, for example, "I am really looking forward to . . . the rewards of a small, tightly knit cadre of classmates."

Matthew C. Wiencke

If you would like to offer any feedback about this article, we would welcome getting your comments at DartMed@Dartmouth.edu.

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