Taylor Wahrenbrock ’12
Majors: French and Biology
Graduate degrees: Masters in Public Health, Tufts University; Doctor of Medicine, George Washington University
What are you doing right now?
I am a fourth year medical student at George Washington University in Washington D.C. currently applying for residency in Emergency Medicine.
How did your academic experience at Saint Michael’s College help prepare you for your career?
I believe my French major at SMC was important for many reasons. First of all, understanding and speaking another language made me a better person. I have developed cultural competence, the ability to work alongside those who come from different walks of life, and a real interest in other peoples, cultures, and ways of living. After graduating SMC, I participated in TAPIF which was one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. Not only did I learn to speak French more fluently, but I also became comfortable navigating unfamiliar situations and embraced my independence while living in France for a year. I also used my French skills during my Master of Public Health research in Haiti. I was able to communicate with hospital staff and even served as a translator between French speaking Haitian physicians and visiting doctors. Becoming so close to the Haitian physicians really sparked my interest in medicine, which is how I reached the decision to pursue medical school to become a doctor. After my first year of medical school I had the opportunity to travel. I spent one month in an Emergency Room in Kigali, Rwanda. My french allowed me to communicate with doctors from Rwanda as well as some of the surrounding countries like the DRC. I also spent a month in Paris, France working alongside an oncologist and learning how European Health Systems differ from ours. Since my french was so strong I was invited to join the oncologists scuba diving group. He started this group for cancer survivors so they could reclaim their bodies and identities. Hearing their stories was life changing. I am currently in my fourth year of medical school at George Washington University and am currently interviewing for emergency medicine residency positions. Without fail I get asked about my French and time in France/Haiti/Rwanda (all places I could go and volunteer/work because of my French) at every interview, and have met some people who have worked at the same hospitals in each country as I have. It is amazing the doors that this degree has opened for me, and I can’t wait to see what is next.
Do you have any advice for current students?
Have fun! I took French and Biology because I believed it would be interesting and enjoyable. I never knew it would take me to live in France, get my MPH, and become a doctor. There is no right path to achieving your dreams, the most important part is that you enjoy the ride.