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Haas Center photo by Doug Plummer

Embrace the Uncertainty, Follow your Curiosity

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Haas Center photo by Doug Plummer


There was a time when some students were briefly able to glimpse their admission documents. As some of my fellow classmates, I was curious. The most remarkable thing was that even though I wrote on my application that I was pre-med and had worked on Asian-Pacific Islander Health advocacy, one of the admission officers wrote that she enjoyed my personal statement so much that she wished I would major in English! I walked out of there, shaking my head in disbelief. Because that admission officer was able to discern something about myself that I didn’t even know at the time, that the humanities spoke to me in a way the sciences fell short of. To the bewilderment of some of my friends who were taking HumBio core with me, I enrolled in some introductory Philosophy classes. The logical reasoning and probing of deep, existential questions fulfilled a thirst for knowledge that I had not been receiving from my human biology courses. At the end of my sophomore year, I declared a Biology major and Philosophy minor. 

After being very much involved with the Haas Center for Public Service during my undergraduate years, I was elated when I had the opportunity to work at the Haas Center as a Cardinal Service Outreach and Engagement Coordinator post-graduation. In the meantime, I was applying to medical schools. Because of my experiences at Stanford, I knew I wanted to be at a school that valued service, cultivated a strong sense of community among its students, and fostered great clinicians. That is why I chose the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine to continue my education. However, right before I began my first year of medical school, I heard about the MA in Bioethics and Health Policy offered at Loyola. Intrigued about what bioethics entailed, I contacted alumni of the MD/MA program, hoping I could find someone with a Stanford connection. Perhaps one of the most pivotal moments of my career was when I reached Dr. Alyssa Burgart, who was more than happy to meet with me at a coffee shop on campus to discuss why she decided to pursue her MD/MA at Stritch and what brought her to do her medical fellowship at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. 

And finally, it hit me. The work that Dr. Burgart was doing in co-chairing the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Ethics Committee was something that combined all of my interests. The intersection of medicine, bioethics, and academic research was fascinating, and that was when I knew that I wanted to become a physician-bioethicist. No, I don’t know what specialty I want to go into yet. And I’m not exactly sure where I’ll be applying to for residency. But that’s ok, because some of the most important pivot points in my story are times when I fell into things, when I least expected it.

Linda Nguyen

Class of 2016

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