Ashley Huber (left) and Jane Lee are the College's first Herbert Kean Distinguished Scholars.
First-year medical students Jane Lee and Ashley Huber may not appear to have much in common.
Lee is a lifelong Californian. She earned her bachelor's degree in biology with honors from UCLA, which, with nearly 30,000 undergraduates, is the size of a small city. Her older sister is a physician, a Drexel graduate in fact, but Lee wasn't always sure what she herself wanted to do.
Huber grew up in a suburb of New York City. She majored in human science, finishing cum laude, at Georgetown University, undergrad population 8,000. The only physician in her family is a cousin, but Huber always knew she wanted to be a doctor.
Lee and Huber, however, have commonalities besides stellar credentials from top-ranked schools. They are the College of Medicine's first Herbert Kean Distinguished Scholars, recipients of an award that recognizes their outstanding accomplishments and continues for four years. The scholarship was created by alumnus Herbert Kean, MD, HU '56, and it came as a complete surprise to both of them.
Open to Possibilities
Originally from Clovis, California, Jane Lee "always had medicine in mind," but was unsure she wanted to pursue it as a career. "I did a lot of related activities — research, volunteering, anything I could to get to know the field a little bit better and see if it was right for me," she says. As an undergraduate at UCLA, Lee worked in the urology department, both as a research lab assistant and shadowing her PI during his surgical procedures. She is even first author of a review chapter they published. Lee also worked behind the scenes in the ophthalmology department and was a hospital volunteer at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Lee's older sister, Mimi, graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in 2006, while Lee was in high school. Once Lee decided to pursue a medical degree, she says, her sister's enthusiasm for the school was contagious. "They really challenged her," Lee says, also noting that her sister made friends with whom she still keeps in touch nine years later. After visiting the Drexel campus, Lee decided this was where she wanted to be.
A few days after Lee was accepted by the College, the Admissions Office called to offer her the Kean scholarship. Lee, who had not been aware of the scholarship before, describes the experience as literally unbelievable. "There's a three-hour time difference [between Philadelphia and California], and it was the morning. I'm thinking, ‘Am I still dreaming? This is insane.'"
Many months later, feet on the ground in Philadelphia, Lee is very happy with her decision. Coming from UCLA, she appreciates that her class at Drexel is on the larger size compared to other medical schools. "I always feel with a larger class, there are a variety of people to interact with and learn from. I feel like I'm surrounded by people who are different, but who are united by a common interest. … They motivate me to work harder," she says.
Being away from family for the first time has been Lee's biggest challenge as she tries to adjust to the Northeast and to medical school. She has enjoyed exploring her new city, though. As a fashion blogger, she particularly notices the style differences between the two coasts. "That may be an L.A. influence," Lee laughs. "Right now, my education and career are number one, so I've put that a little bit to the side," she adds.
Lee also finds creativity in medicine. "I feel that medicine is very creative even though the foundation is the sciences," she says. "What makes it creative for me now is when you are interviewing a patient and trying to get their history. Even though patients may have the same symptoms, each person has a different lifestyle, different genetics."
As a Kean Scholar, Lee was invited to meet the scholarship donors, alumnus Dr. Kean and his wife, the Honorable Joyce Kean, a former judge of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. "It was really nice to meet them," she says, "putting a face to ‘Dr. Herbert Kean.' Finding out what a great person he is was even better," she adds, a sentiment echoed by Ashley Huber.
Mutual admiration society: Herbert Kean, MD, HU '56, and his wife, Joyce, with the Kean Scholars. 'He's a very accomplished physician. It was an honor to hear his story,' Huber says.
Fulfilling a Dream
During high school, Huber participated in service trips to Mexico. In college she continued her outreach work on a trip to Appalachia, and she volunteered for Georgetown's student-run ambulance service beginning freshman year. She also undertook semesterlong research internships and spent summers in research programs at Georgetown and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, for which she received competitive grants. One summer, she traveled to Buenos Aires on a translational research internship focused on pediatrics.
"I really took advantage of research opportunities, kind of as a way to explore medicine before I was able to do that in medical school," Huber explains. After graduating from Georgetown, she worked at Einstein for two years, conducting research into HIV microbicides, and was selected to train collaborating researchers in Nairobi, Kenya.
As she began to research medical schools, Huber says, "Drexel felt like a great fit. … I really loved the idea of quickly getting into the field and getting to see patients through the ‘Physician and Patient' course, and Drexel's affiliations for third- and fourth-year clinical rotations are great." The Community Experience programs also drew Huber's attention, and she currently volunteers in the student-run clinic at the Eliza Shirley House, a shelter for mothers and children.
Huber says her experience so far has been a dream come true. "It's a lot of work," she says of medical school, "but it's really interesting."
Like Lee, Huber is very grateful for Kean's generosity. His gift is helping "fulfill my dream of medical school," she says.
Both young women express their appreciation for the opportunity to develop a relationship with Kean. Lee says, "I think that's important and different from anything I expected my medical school experience to be like. It's a really great thing they're trying to do with the scholarship, allowing us to get to know alumni and connect the current with the past."