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Susan Owens

Medical Student at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston

Susan Owens at the Taj Mahal.

"I participated in undergraduate research & soon realized that while I enjoyed the concept of research, I couldn't spend my life at a bench. I continued doing research &  got a job working at St. Elizabeth’s ER as a scribe. My enjoyment for this job helped me decide to go to medical school. I also studied abroad, which got me interested in infectious diseases & international medical relief."

What was your major/minor at Purdue and when did you graduate?

Biochemistry ACS with minors in English and Psychology – graduated May 2012.

What was your most compelling class?

I really enjoyed most of my chemistry classes, but one of my favorite classes was an upper level English class about Shakespeare. This class was quite challenging for me as it was a completely different way of considering and analyzing a text – obviously analyzing a Shakespearean play is far different from analyzing a scientific article. I was the only non-English major in the class and my professor definitely challenged me to broaden my analytical skills. Even though this class was difficult I truly enjoyed it because I learned a whole bunch of things I would never get in a science class and I got to read for a grade, always a plus.

What drove you to pursue your current career path?

When I started at Purdue I thought I wanted to go into some sort of cancer research. I was involved in the freshman honors research program so I was able to start doing research during my first semester at Purdue – I worked in an organic synthesis lab making analogues to cross the blood-brain barrier. I realized pretty quickly that while I enjoyed the concept of research, I could never spend the rest of my life at a bench hoping to discover something. While I continued doing research throughout the next few years, I got a job working in the St. Elizabeth emergency room as a scribe. My enjoyment for this job helped me decide to go to medical school. I also did a lot of international traveling while at Purdue, which increased my interest in infectious diseases and international medical relief.

Did you pursue internships/co-ops, research experiences, volunteer, or join student organizations while you attended Purdue?

I did 2 study abroad experiences, 6 weeks in Copenhagen and 6 weeks in Adelaide, which definitely contributed to my CV when I was applying to medical school. They also increased my desire to travel the world and experience as many cultures as possible. These study abroad experiences started my interests in global health.

I was also involved in the Caduceus club – I went on 3 spring break medical mission trips to Peru, El Salvador, and Ecuador. These were major contributors to helping me figure out that I wanted to go into medicine, specifically into international medical relief.

I was also a Purdue Science Ambassador – this was a particularly amazing experience where I was able to work on my leadership skills and make professional contacts.

I was involved in Purdue Circle K for 2 years – did tons of community service projects in the local community, and in other states. Community service is obviously important for getting into medical school – but I also really enjoyed the people in the club and had a wonderful experience.

I was also a  BGR team leader – such an amazing Purdue experience! A great leadership opportunity – definitely stood out on my CV when applying for medical school.

Are there any special accomplishments you've achieved after college that you might not have been able to do without your college experiences?

I am in the Global Health track at UTMB and as part of that I did a preceptorship abroad during the current summer. I spent 6 weeks in Mumbai, India working in small leprosy clinics. I don’t think I would have been prepared for what I experienced in India if I had not taken all of the travel opportunities that I did at Purdue.

What would you give prospective or current Purdue students about how to make the best use of what Purdue offers?

Take advantage of every opportunity presented and not presented to you. Purdue is a big place – everything can’t be handed to you on a platter. Don’t be afraid to seek out unique experiences, especially study abroad, to make the best of your time at Purdue. You will leave a well-rounded individual and will make a great job or post-graduate education candidate.

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