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Vital Signs

Students seeking M.D.'s are a varied lot

By Katherine Vonderhaar

What do a former professional ballet dancer, a college homecoming king, and a top contestant in the World Cannoli Eating Championship have in common? They're all pursuing an M.D. as members of DMS's Class of 2012—a select group drawn from almost 5,600 applications to the American Medical College Application Service.

The 75 new M.D. students came to Dartmouth from as far as Slovakia and Tanzania and as near as New York City and a small town in Maine. Their undergraduate majors ranged from philosophy to biomedical engineering to theater, and they had average GPAs in both science and nonscience classes of over 3.7. Their average combined MCAT score of 32.9 was DMS's second-highest ever.

Sports: But these students have not spent all their time with their noses to the grindstone, despite their stellar GPAs and MCAT scores. Many of the '12s played college sports—including tennis, ice hockey, and volleyball—and three were DJs for their college radio station.

The new students have also built houses with Habitat for Humanity, acted in independent films, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and the Korean Marine Corps, and translated Holocaust testimonies.

The students' hobbies include skiing, hiking, painting, scuba diving, fencing, playing the piano, woodworking, and

The DMS Class of 2012
was drawn from
almost 5,600 applications.

traveling (one student has visited 20 countries . . . so far).

The future doctors have had a wealth of research experiences, too. Students have investigated limb regeneration in mice, the needs of pediatric cancer survivors, embryonic kidney development, and numerical cognition in children.

Reasons: Six of the '12s have master's degrees in science or health fields and 14 are EMTs. But their reasons for entering medicine vary. After volunteering in an emergency room and shadowing doctors, for example, Fiona He says she "realized that medicine was a career that would allow [her] to fulfill the roles of a teacher, student, scientist, and caretaker."

Reza Kordestani, who lived in Iraq during the first Gulf War, says, "The magnificent explosions and supersonic jets in the night sky led to my budding interest in science, yet it was a realization of the devastating aftermath that attracted me to medicine."

Kordestani and others from around the world join a few '12s with Hanover roots. Born at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, Eddie Ruhland went on to grow up in Hawaii, go to college in California, and work in the South Pacific with the Peace Corps. Now, he says, "I find myself back where it all started, in Hanover, pursuing my dream of becoming a physician."

Some stats about the
75 new M.D. students

Percentage increase in
applications over last year

Number born at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital

Number born outside the U.S.

Number of undergraduate
institutions represented

Number who graduated from
Dartmouth College

Percentage who were 25 or
older at the time they applied

Number of states represented

Percentage women

Percentage students of color
and/or international students

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