Hometown: Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Undergraduate: Brigham Young University, BS in neuroscience
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself before you came to Drexel?
I am a permanent resident of the United States of America, but grew up and spent my childhood and youth in Canada. After graduating from high school, I came to the U.S. to further my education and extracurricular activities, including by voluntarily serving a two-year religious mission in Nevada. Following that experience, I attended Brigham Young University (BYU), graduating with a bachelor of science in neuroscience in April 2021. I concurrently worked two jobs – one as a tutor for college sciences, and the other as a registered behavior technician (a one-on-one therapist for clients with autism). As an undergraduate student, I played extramural rugby, worked as a medical assistant, and volunteered at multiple organizations. I am married and have been for nearly three years. My wife and I have a very active and fun 21-month-old daughter.
What drew you to medicine in general, and to the College of Medicine specifically?
I have been interested in pursuing medicine since childhood. My father is a dentist and my childhood hero, so I wanted to follow his footsteps and be a dentist. As a high school football and rugby player, my visits to a physical therapist made a possible career in physical therapy seem appealing. After I returned from my mission and chose a neuroscience major, the professor who ultimately got me into neuroscience suggested that I should consider medical school as the path that would provide the opportunities I desired, to help and provide care for individuals.
Originally, I was drawn to Drexel's rich and extensive history. I recognized Drexel as a medical school with a strong tradition where I could become the caliber of physician I want to be. After interviewing for a seat, Drexel’s appeal only increased. The individual who interviewed me eased my worries about attending medical school with a family and told me that the brand-new West Reading Campus would be perfect for my situation. This conversation reassured me that I would have the tools at Drexel to excel in my medical education as a father and husband. Once I was accepted to Drexel and assigned to the West Reading Campus, I visited for a weekend and felt like it is where I am meant to be.
How did your undergraduate studies, and any work or continuing education experiences you had prior to medical school, prepare you for this next step in your academic career?
I studied neuroscience, a growing degree at BYU. My professors advised me on the activities I should become involved in and helped adjust my studying techniques to be successful. Neuroscience embodies the truth that new discoveries and technology are still occurring and should be pursued. As a relatively younger science, the information I was learning was continually updating and changing throughout my four years in undergrad. Neuroscience allowed me to be involved in unique research surrounding the creation of an artificial heart and to work with neurodiverse individuals. These experiences taught me about the need to improve upon technology and treatments. I gained valuable knowledge that has thankfully led to my acceptance to Drexel and will aid in my medical school education.
What was your first year of medical school like? What are you looking forward to about your second year studying in West Reading?
My first year of medical school was in a way very similar to my first year of college. You come into it with prior academic experience and you’ve usually been reasonably successful, so you’re thinking you know how to study and what to expect. Within the first week, everything is flipped on its head, and you are second-guessing every study technique you thought was useful. There is a learning curve going from high school to college and an even steeper curve when going from college to medical school. However, eventually, I settled into a routine and the first year went as well as it ever could have. I was impressed by the number of individuals who so willingly helped us be excited about medical school and deal with the stressful times.
I look forward to learning more about the disease process and to feeling like I finally understand the terms medical providers use. I am getting excited and nervous about getting closer to working in the hospital and providing care to the patients there, to the community who welcomed us so willingly last year. I also am quite excited to provide more care this year than I did last year, as we have established community outreach programs such as free clinics and health fairs. Our responsibilities have increased this year and I have enjoyed working in leadership positions to create relationships with physicians and expand the relationships within the Reading community.
Students in West Reading did a great deal of community service in their first year at the campus. What kinds of service projects have you been involved in, and what have you learned in the process?
I have been involved in a good amount of service, but a few experiences especially stand out. The College of Medicine’s Health Advocacy Practicum (HAP) gave my classmates and I the opportunity to go out into the West Reading community and serve. I participated, specifically, in Tower Health's Street Medicine program. We went out into Berks County and actively sought unhoused and underserved individuals to try and provide them with the health care they needed. It was an opportunity both to give and to learn. In the process, my classmates and I saw the various social determinants that restrict individuals from getting the care they need, and our class discussed various ways we could help people overcome those challenges and barriers.
I also participate in a program to mentor high school students, assisting them in getting into college and figuring out a future for themselves. I have been fortunate to mentor a student who wants to go to medical school, and I have seen them take great strides towards accomplishing that goal. It has made me realize the importance of the mentors that I had in my pre-medical years and the mentors I have now.
Additionally, I joined the volunteer program at Tower Health’s Reading Hospital and assisted floor nurses with restocking items, talking to patients, and providing basic care. I brought in other medical students and got them involved in various programs around the hospital as well. Through this experience, I deepened my knowledge of the number of people involved in patient care, and I came to appreciate to a greater extent than before how many people it takes to allow hospitals to run. Everyone has a purpose, and when each worker excels in their role, it benefits patients greatly.
Prior to medical school, you went on a two-year mission trip to Las Vegas, Nevada; please tell me more about that experience and your activities in Nevada. How will this experience influence your work as a medical student now, and later on as a physician?
During high school I worked to save money to pay for my two-year mission and chose to serve immediately after graduating from high school. I submitted extensive paperwork and received my assignment to the Nevada Las Vegas West Mission. I spent the first two weeks in Provo, Utah, at the Missionary Training Center, where I was immersed in the lifestyle of a missionary and intensively trained for my responsibilities. Once in Las Vegas, I was assigned a missionary companion who trained me on the work specific to Nevada. Every six weeks we got a “transfer call” informing us if we were changing mission companions or the area in which we worked; I ultimately had 11 mission companions and served in six areas.
Week after week, we served individuals wherever we could, helping with yard work, housework, painting, moves, etc. We would help the community by serving at food banks, homeless shelters, thrift stores and community events. I spent many hours in individuals’ homes, teaching them about the beliefs and values I hold dear. I was constantly striving to help the people in Las Vegas improve their lives in any way possible, whether they were members of the church I was representing or not. Honestly, I learned more from the people I met than they could have ever learned from me. I learned that my mission was crucial for my development and discipline; it was the foundation for what has occurred in my life since coming home.
Another crucial aspect of my missionary service included leadership opportunities. During my service, I was asked to help train other missionaries and to encourage and uplift them, by serving as a district leader and then a zone leader. Eventually, I became an assistant to the mission president, who volunteered his time, along with his wife, for three years. I learned how to be a leader and be responsible for groups of individuals. I had to make decisions on which missionaries should work together and where they should serve.
My two-year mission was critical in preparing me to pursue becoming a physician. I learned how to be disciplined, create and follow a strict schedule, and study effectively. I was exposed to many unique individuals. I gained confidence speaking with people and explaining difficult concepts. As I told my Drexel interviewer, my mission is the main experience in my life that has led me to where I am now.
You were part of the first MD Program class to study on the West Reading campus. Now that members of the Class of 2026 have joined you there, what would you say they can look forward to about studying medicine in West Reading?
The biggest thing I would say they have to look forward to is coming into a community that has accepted us as their own and is willing to participate in our learning process. We have a beautiful building that assists in our learning, and a community that wants us here and looks forward to benefitting from our service and the knowledge we are gaining from our instructors in West Reading.