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Checking in at the PA Olympics

April 30, 2021

PA students participating in the 2021 PA OlympicsThirty-five students in the Drexel University Physician Assistant program’s 2022 cohort (listed below) participated in this year’s PA Olympics and raised over $22,000 for the Krueger Hat Trick Foundation.

The 2021 format, "The Amazing Race," had each participating university’s PA students set up games— relay races, egg toss and basket throw — at different locations around Philadelphia. The Dragons were at Independence Hall. We caught up with four students and got to know a little bit about them.

Lauren Thompson, 2022 Class President

PA Student Lauren Thompson 

I am interested in emergency medicine, primary care, and womens’ health, but the great thing about being a PA is that you have the opportunity to explore many different specialties!

Maikie Sengdeng

PA Student Maikie Sengdeng

I am hoping to get into emergency medicine but am keeping my mind open for specific fields. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to become a PA, it allows for flexibility and the ability to transition into different fields/specialties.

Ellie Martini

PA Student Ellie Martini

I have always been interested in Orthopedics and Pediatrics, but I am excited to get experience in multiple specialties during clinical rotations. I am going into them with an open mind!

Leah Kemler

PA Student Leah Kemler 

I haven’t yet decided on a career path or specialty.

What I like about Drexel:

Thompson: I love the sense of comradery and family.
Sengdeng: The Drexel PA Program prides itself in improving healthcare delivery to rural and urban medically underserved communities. While growing up, I saw first-hand, the barriers that exist between healthcare and the Laotian communities that I was a part of. The education and training that I’ve received here, has allowed me to share my experiences and listen to other minority experiences that share similar adversities. With the support and tools Drexel provides, I am motivated to become a provider that can help bring down these barriers and advocate for minorities and their equal access to care.
Martini: It’s location in the wonderful city of Philadelphia!
Kemler: I love that Drexel is located in the heart of Philadelphia, and I get to enjoy all of the amazing food this beautiful city has to offer while also attending a great school.

Why I did PA Olympics:

Thompson: To help support a charity that benefits families affected by Congestive Heart Defects, which is an underfunded and understudied topic in medicine.
Sengdeng: PA Olympics is an event that is held every year that brings multiple universities together to raise funds and awareness for a local community-based organization. It’s a great way to collaborate with other schools in Philadelphia and work together towards making a positive influence in our community. I am new to Philadelphia and the theme for this year’s PA Olympics is a scavenger hunt throughout the city, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to explore the city, learn more of its history and also contribute to our fundraiser.
Martini: I am so excited to come together as a class for a fun, competitive day while working towards raising money for The Krueger Hat Trick Foundation. The foundation supports families of children with congenital heart defects/ disease.
Kemler: To support a great cause and have fun with my classmates while doing so!

Favorite thing about your cohort:

Thompson: My favorite thing about our cohort is that no matter how rough the going gets, we always find a way to lift each other up through humor.
Martini: The resilience our class has, beginning a new journey during the pandemic has had its challenges but we have done a great job of coming together to make the best of it.
Kemler: The support we’ve all shown each other (despite our virtual learning experience). It has been especially nice living with roommates who are also in the program.

Something significant you learned from experiential learning/clinicals:

Thompson: Our class hasn’t done clinicals yet, but I have years of experience working in the medical field and the biggest lesson I've learned is that anyone is able to make a positive impact on a patient's life, regardless of whether their name is followed by a title such as MD or PA.
Sengdeng: Some of the best advice I’ve received from providers I’ve worked with is to keep an open mind when it comes to patients. We only see patients for a fraction of their lives and don’t have a full understanding of the challenges that people face. No matter how frustrating, noncompliant or difficult a patient may be, their frustration may just be a projection of something else going on that we are not aware of. Always keep an open mind and continue to show acceptance and empathy towards our patients. This advice not only applies to healthcare, but also with people in general. The interactions we have with friends, families, colleagues and even complete strangers shape the way we build relationships and keeping an open mind tends to moves things in the positive direction.
Martini: We begin our clinicals in the fall and I am excited for the hands-on learning in multiple specialties.
Kemler: I am excited to attend clinical rotations starting in September.

I can’t live without:

Thompson: Pasta.
Sengdeng: Simple – coffee.
Martini: Target, I am there at least three times weekly.
Kemler: Any dessert, but especially ice cream.

Favorite part of my program:

Thompson: The moments when I sit back and realized just how much I have learned.
Martini: Finding a support system in my classmates.
Kemler: Clinical Medicine.

My favorite thing about Philly:

Thompson: THE FOOD!
Sengdeng: The food in Philly is amazing. There is a wide diversity of culture and ethnicities here and I love exploring and trying out new foods. Food brings people together I love sharing new experiences with people.
Martini: The sports! Fly Eagles fly!

My favorite course:

Thompson and Martini: Clinical Medicine.

The best advice I have for prospective students:

Thompson: PA school is all about balancing learning with the things that make you happy. Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself.
Sengdeng: This may sound cheesy or corny and you’ve probably heard this before, but honestly, enjoy the journey as you progress into your career. The path to PA school takes a ton of work, but all of the extracurriculars, experiences, people you meet and the interactions you have are invaluable. As long as you enjoy what you’re doing and have a passion for a career in medicine, nothing can stop you. Keep striving, keep hustling and continue to put in the work and you will get to get where you want to be.
Martini: Absorb all you can, enjoy the process, make connections with your classmates, and take time to enjoy the city!
Kemler: It can feel overwhelming at first but take things one lecture at a time and you can do it.

If I could trade lives with another person for a day, it would be:

Thompson: Ocean Ramsey, a marine biologist who spends her days diving with sharks in beautiful places.
Martini: Rachel Ray, I want to learn how to cook something other than an omelet.
Kemler: Simone Biles.

Something most people don’t know about me:

Thompson: I once tried out for American Idol.
Sengdeng: Living in Philly now, I don’t have my car anymore, but back in Salt Lake City, Utah (where I was born and raised), I used to race my car at the local racetrack and autocross my car. If you’ve ever thought about racing or driving fun for sport, look up your local autocross organizations and you’ll find out that it’s a lot easier to get into than what most people think.
Martini: I’ve held the Stanley Cup.
Kemler: I make a perfect homemade margarita.

My best stress reliever:

Thompson: My cat.
Sengdeng: I grew up playing in multiple sports and getting active. Whenever I get stressed, I will find a way to get active by either working out, running a few miles or finding a local gym and playing basketball.
Martini: Going for a run.
Kemler: A really good workout, or a really good book.

My greatest achievement so far at Drexel:

Thompson: Getting elected Class President!
Sengdeng: Getting into the PA program!
Martini: Balancing a challenging course load while making sure to take time for myself.
Kemler: To look back and see all that I have learned and accomplished in just six months.

You’ll never see me:

Thompson: At an Arby’s.
Sengdeng: Listening to country. Nothing against it, I just never got into it.
Martini: In Dallas blue.
Kemler: Running a marathon.

One thing that always cheers me up:

Thompson: Also, my cat.
Sengdeng: Food. I love to eat. I also really enjoy cooking and trying new foods and recipes.
Martini: A good brewery on a sunny day.
Kemler: A weekend at the river back home in VA.

Words I live by:

Thompson: “Life is tough my darling, but so are you.”
Martini: “Hard work pays off.”
Kemler: “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi

Three words I’d use to describe my program/department:

Thompson: Compassionate, committed, innovative.
Sengdeng: Professionalism, Passionate, Adaptive.
Martini: Supportive, growth, committed.
Kemler: Stimulating, Rewarding, Dedicated.

When no one is around, I:

Thompson: Sing at the top of my lungs.
Sengdeng: Am low-key listening to Ariana Grande.
Martini: Text my roommates to come back home because I miss them, we do everything together!
Kemler: Call my mom <3.

2021 PA Olympics Participants:

  • Abigail Ware
  • Alex Bernal
  • Alex Fan
  • Amanda Rogers
  • Amy Intermont
  • Caitlin Patt
  • Carly Swan
  • Casey Weibel
  • Courtney Barrett
  • Ellie Martini
  • Emily Gao
  • Erin Pakela
  • Jessica Frey
  • Joanna Johnson
  • Joey Auble
  • Judy Zheng
  • Juliana Souza
  • Juilet Grover
  • Kaitlin Kelly
  • Kam Rakowski
  • Kate Anderson
  • Lauren Thomas
  • Lauren Thompson
  • Leah Kemler
  • Maikie Sengdeng
  • Miles Danis
  • Molly Walter
  • Natalie Rogotzke
  • Robyn Fahy
  • Sahar Jahromi
  • Stacy Arciniegas
  • Summer Truong
  • Sydney Juska
  • Vi Vo
  • Wendy Gomez