It is not often that people get to live out their dreams, but that is exactly what Kelly Kuehl (’19) from Sherwood, Wisconsin, is planning on doing. As a child she had a dream about becoming a doctor and, after years of hard work and dedication, she is well on her way to making that a reality. Meanwhile, Hannah Sherfinski (’19) had a similar passion for science from a young age. Sherfinski was drawn to medicine and public health for the opportunity to address societal health disparities, become a leader in medicine and health, and remain a life-long learner. Both Kuehl and Sherfinski have conquered the first challenge on the way to accomplishing their goals: they have applied to medical schools.
Kuehl, a biology major with a minor in Spanish, applied to fourteen medical schools and submitted eleven secondary applications among these were UW Madison, the Medical College of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Creighton University, Quinnipiac University, and the University of Minnesota Medical School - Twin Cities. Though as of now she has not made a final decision about where to attend, she has pointed to UW Madison’s focus on “public health and advocacy” and in-state tuition as important factors that may sway her decision.
Sherfinski, also a biology major with a minor in Spanish, applied to fifteen schools including UW Madison, the Medical College of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, the University of Minnesota Medical School - Twin Cities, Emory University, and Georgetown University. Like Kuehl, she has yet to make her final decision but is also strongly considering UW-Madison. Not only does she see herself fitting into the city as a whole, but Madison’s MD-MPH (Master’s of Public Health) dual degree and TRIUMPH urban health programs were also important factors that have impacted her decision.Sherfinski has expressed interest in child abuse pediatrics as well as child and adolescent psychiatry, working with young traumatized individuals. Her experiences volunteering with foster children and as a sexual assault advocate for the Sexual Assault Center in Green Bay exposed her to the need for physicians educated in social justice issues.
Not dissimilarly, Kuehl has expressed interest in becoming an OB/GYN, hoping to combine medicine and social justice. Her goal is to open a community health clinic that provides “medical care, mental health services, and health education to women.” When asked which course at St. Norbert College she found most useful, Kuehl pointed to Dr. Trollinger’s course, Poverty, Charity, and Welfare in American History. “I learned a lot about the history of welfare and its structural complications in the United States, including medical welfare which is the topic I choose to focus my final project on,” Kuehl said; “I found a new passion in this topic and plan to continue studying and being involved in welfare advocacy as a medical student.”
Sherfinski also pointed to Poverty, Charity, and Welfare as an interesting and impactful course. She also gave former professor, Reg Kim’s, theology courses a fond review. In the STEM areas, she pointed to Dr. King’s developmental biology class as one of her favorites.
Kuehl looks forward to becoming part of an enthusiastic community of individuals that share her love of science and medicine and Sherfinski is excited to begin learning, start research, and continue her work with child advocacy and sexual assault resources.
The Application Process
As for the application process, Kuehl and Sherfinski caution students that it can become expensive to pay for testing, interviews, and applications. The entire process took Sherfinski nearly five months between taking the MCAT in April, submitting secondary applications (essay-based questions) in July, and at last beginning interviews in August. Interviews themselves took from August to February, but Sherfinski was finished by the conclusion of her first semester. Financial aid offers are a major factor for both ladies as they begin making their final decisions. Kuehl stressed the value of using resources at St. Norbert and on the internet as well as reflecting on the experience and yourself during the whole process.
Sherfinski encourages current students to get outside their comfort zone. During her time at St. Norbert, she researches genes regulating stem cell proliferation in planarians in Dr. King’s lab, she is an Academic Peer Mentor, and is involved in the TRIPS Program. Amidst all of that, she also studied abroad in Ecuador where she went hiking in the mountains, pushed herself to become a sexual assault advocate and counselor for foster kids, and points to those challenging and unforseen experiences as some of the most important in her personal growth and development. As Sherfinski herself puts it, “Sometimes life offers you opportunities that you may not feel qualified for, but I think everyone should go with their gut at some point and do something new, challenging, and even a little bit terrifying.”
Keuhl offers equally useful advice. “Whatever you do,” she says, “just do something you are passionate about.” She warns against the resumé fillers and instead encourages younger students to spend time on the things that interest them and they are passionate about. During her time at SNC, Keuhl led three trips, is a biology and chemistry tutor, a Writing Center Consultant, a Biology TA, and studied abroad in Valparaiso, Chile. Your passion will show in interviews and applications, she says.
Memories from St. Norbert
Both Kuehl and Sherfinski pointed to living in Bergstrom as their favorite memory from the Honors Program. Sherfinski met her current roommates in Bergstrom and both she and Kuehl agreed that they made lasting and memorable friendships from living in the first-year honors dorm. Sherfinski expressed her fondness for St. Norbert College in general, saying, “I’ll miss study sessions on the second floor of Mulva or late night runs to Phils to get pints of Ben and Jerry’s. Of course I’ll miss walking around campus during fall or going for long runs along the Fox River Trail. There are so many things I’ll miss.” She and Kuehl pointed to the connections with friends and mentors as one of the main things they will miss from their time in undergrad. The Honors Program wishes both ladies the best of luck as they progress to the next stage of their lives and hope that they will return to visit one day, at the very least for their favorite foods from Ruth’s: the bagel bar for Kuehl and for Sherfinski, the soft serve machine.