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MU graduate takes road less traveled to medical school

Nicole Hammond ’10 has seen and done a lot on her journey to becoming a medical student at Penn State University.

The Mishawaka, Ind., native knew when she came to Manchester that she wanted to be a doctor. During her first year, however, Nicole attended an assembly at which speakers urged new students to take advantage of every opportunity available, even if it meant giving up their summers. Nicole took the advice to heart and adopted a “let’s see what I can do” mentality.

Nicole participated in many of the hands-on, immersive experiences Manchester has to offer. She traveled to Mexico, worked in a hospice house in Texas, studied in Ecuador, took part in the medical practicum in Nicaragua, and spent three months in India on a Pathways grant. Her experiences in Texas and Nicaragua reaffirmed her decision to attend medical school. “I learned very important values about medicine and caring for others,” she says. “Medicine is more about teaching than I ever realized.”

Nicole credits Manchester’s passionate faculty for helping to keep her focused on her ultimate goal, and for opening her eyes to the many opportunities available at Manchester. John Planer, professor of music, urged her to explore the Pathways program that landed her in the hospice house in Texas. “Dr. Planer saw something in me,” Nicole says. “I had no idea I could do such a thing.” Two other faculty members, Jeffrey Osborne, associate professor of chemistry, and Lynne Margolies, associate professor of modern language, worked closely with Nicole, informing her of opportunities, making sure she was keeping up with her classes, and encouraging her about her career path. “They reminded me that, yes, you can do this,” she says.

After graduating with majors in biology-chemistry and Spanish, Nicole wanted some more experiences before applying to medical school. “I wanted to get my feet on the ground and try some different things,” she says.

She worked with the Indiana Department of Education Migrant Education Program helping migrant families sign up for programs that would allow them to continue their education. She next spent nine months in Indonesia as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. When she returned, she worked with the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless program through Americorps, serving homeless people with HIV or AIDS.

Finally feeling that her feet were wet enough, Nicole entered Penn State’s Hershey College of Medicine.

Her path was longer than that of most medical students, but thanks to faculty mentors and the many meaningful experiences she had because of Manchester, Nicole feels prepared for the challenges ahead.

By Ben Ogden ’12

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