The University of Missouri School of Medicine Student Ambassadors are dedicated medical students who are part of the Admissions Office team.

2019 Student Ambassadors photo
Click the image to see a full-size version.

They help with on- and off-campus recruitment activities, public relations, and act as liaisons among visiting students and the student body. Ambassadors share the MU School of Medicine's goal of attracting the best students possible. They provide assistance to prospective students in a number of ways, including: facilitating networking events, coordinating medical student panels for interested groups and classes, arranging medical school tours for interviewees, and communicating one-on-one with prospective students.

Meet Our Ambassadors

Click on our ambassadors' names below to learn more about why they chose Mizzou Med.

M1s

Dustin Armstrong

Dustin Armstrong

Bio

Hometown: Galesburg, IL

Undergrad: SIU-Carbondale, Goldfarb School of Nursing, Wash U in St. Louis

Major: Radio-Television News, Nursing, Postbaccalaureate Pre-medical Program

Med Specialty: Pediatric Intensivist, Pediatric Cardiologist, or CT Surgery

dadfd@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: MU was my #1 choice for a multitude of reasons. Chief among them was the PBL curriculum. Through my many years of ICU nurse experience, that type of learning was widely utilized throughout the department I worked in. I like the idea of everyone having an equal voice as we bounce ideas off of each other. It allows us to let down our guard and embrace the fact that we're all smart people that really don't know anything about medicine. If you can commit to that vulnerability, then you will be very successful... My wife and I were hoping to stay fairly close to our lifelong friends in St. Louis and our families in central Illinois... In-state tuition was a huge bonus... The nearly brand-new PCCLC is an amazing facility that feels like home to me... Columbia is a great town with all the amenities needed for a medical student. The fact is, I knew the great majority of my time was going to be spent studying, so I wanted to attend school somewhere that allows me to streamline that process. It takes me 10 minutes to drive from our residential home, so I don't have to get up way earlier to commute. All shopping needs are very close by, so again, I don't have to waste excess time getting the things I need while losing precious study time.

Connie Cardona

Connie Cardona

Bio

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Undergrad: Mount Saint Mary's University

Major: Biochemistry

Med Specialty: Not decided

ccfv6@mail.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: Hello all, congrats on being part of our medical school journey! The process is a long and difficult one but extremely rewarding.

To start with, I am nowhere near Columbia, Missouri. I was born and raised in Los Angeles where I also attended undergrad. Growing up I didn’t have any friends or family members working in the medical field. My exposure to the medical field came with the hospital and clinic visits where I helped family and friends translate during visits. At a young age, I saw the need for better health care resources for patients facing language barriers.

It wasn’t until junior year of undergraduate where mentors encouraged me to pursue a career in medicine. It was then where I began volunteering in hospitals and scribing. After graduating in 2017, I took 2 years off to continue research in molecular biology, care after my mother and continue working as a scribe.

My most memorable medical school interview was with Mizzou. The moment I arrived I was kindly greeted by faculty and students. When choosing a school, I believe that the most important aspect to consider is whether or not being there makes you feel at home. Luckily for me Mizzou met that checklist with faculty who always have their doors open and comradery between the students. I would say that the fosters a highly collaborative environment where there are endless study guides, PowerPoint, Anki decks and videos shared among students. Mizzou also makes it easy for us to access by giving us a subscription to Box where everyone is able to upload and view.

Because the school also has a unique curriculum centered around patient-based learning, we are able to participate in other activities. Currently, I am working as Outreach Chair with Medzou (the free medical clinic run by students!) If you have any questions, feel free to reach out!

Michela Fabricius

Michela Fabricius

Bio

Hometown: Thousand Oaks, California

Undergrad: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Major: Biology

Med Specialty: Infectious Disease, Emergency Med, Trauma Surgery

mmtcd6@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: I had never been to Missouri before my interview. In fact, I had just added Mizzou to my list of schools because someone had mentioned how great the program was. To me, it was just another option on my list.

However, when I interviewed at Mizzou, everyone I interacted with that day was SO kind and welcoming. My experience here was unlike other medical schools that I had visited and I loved Mizzou immediately because of it. In short, I sensed that I could belong here. And as an M1 I am still SO happy with my choice.

The midwest is very different from Southern California. And while I love my hometown, people here are a whole new kind of nice which I thrive in. I am learning so much about Columbia and about midwestern culture in general. I am continually learning! Also, I think people at Mizzou genuinely care about who you are as a person both inside and outside of medical school.

 John French

John French

Bio

Hometown: Meridian, ID

Undergrad: The College of Idaho

Major: Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics/Physics

Med Specialty: Hopefully a surgical specialty

jmfn7c@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: How I came to apply to Mizzou Med is funny. A friend from my college, Cynthia Tang, who is now an M2 MD-PhD candidate at Mizzou Med, told me how Mizzou was a hidden gem. Taking her advice, I researched the school and applied. Now lends the question why Mizzou Med?

Why I choose Mizzou Med apart from other schools wasn’t too hard after considering many options. Being an out-of-state applicant, the draw was to the curriculum, facilities and tuition. The PBL curriculum is designed to present learning medicine through actual cases. This way we begin to integrate and correlate both the basic sciences, as well as the clinical reasoning behind the cases. While the basic sciences and clinical reasoning are important, there is also a large emphasis placed around patient-centered care. Overall the education is great, and I would say that our STEP 1 scores reflect it.

The facilities are amazing as well. The PCLCC is a state-of-the-art facility. PCLCC has a fantastic anatomy lab and simulation center where students go to practice interacting with patients, as well as their clinical skills. Compared to many other schools, Mizzou Med has staff that are available to help with anything from searching research opportunities to having 1-on-1 session to assure we are mentally doing alright at Mizzou Med.

Lastly, tuition was an important aspect for me, especially since I was from out-of-state. Mizzou is one of the best institutions for out-of-state applicants, because after one year we can apply to become in-state residence and pay in-state tuition rates. Most schools are very strict about this, which is why Mizzou Med stands out in this area.

I am very happy with choosing Mizzou Med and would do it over again!

Mandeep Sandhu

Mandeep Sandhu

Bio

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Undergrad: Scripps College

Major: Biology and Religious Studies

Med Specialty: Undecided

mksbkt@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: Hi everyone! Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, never would I have thought I would choose to pursue my medical education so far from home. Looking back at my decision to pursue medicine and to make Mizzou my new home, there are some key elements in my life that ultimately led me to these decisions. Since a young age I have always been drawn to science and it was during my undergraduate studies that I really started to additionally pursue humanities in the form of Religious Studies and through this I fully found the power of intersectional academics. This intersectional approach to academics is the foundation of my personal pursuit of medicine rooted in both pure STEM and humanities/social justice.

As it came down to choosing a medical school, it was a perfect match with Mizzou; we share the same interests, learn in the same way, and have the same values. What I mean is that I really wanted a medical school that challenged me scientifically in the classroom but also to be fully competent in the various interpersonal aspects of the career. In addition, I wanted a school that provided a nurturing learning environment where students truly worked as a team and supported each other in their learning. The Patient-Based Learning curriculum is truly remarkable and a strong learning environment that is consistently exciting and applicable, challenging, yet approachable. And finally, I was searching for an institution that was determined to uplift the community it serviced, especially those systematically consistently marginalized. And at the end of the day, I found those all here at Mizzou.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about applying as an out-of-state applicant, life in Columbia/medical school in general, or anything else you are curious about in this process!

Chase Seiller

Chase Seiller

Bio

Hometown: St. Louis (Wildwood), MO

Undergrad: Xavier University

Major: Natural Sciences, Psychology, and Spanish

Med Specialty: Emergency Medicine or Otolaryngology

csm97@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: Like most medical students, I applied to a number of medical schools in the hopes of being accepted wherever would take me. I had no prior knowledge about Mizzou Med prior to applying as I attended undergrad in Ohio. It wasn’t until my interview tour that I realized all the reasons that Mizzou stands apart from most other medical schools.

The primary reason that I chose Mizzou Med is because of the PBL curriculum. I am a very “hands on” learner and wanted to learn through experience rather than countless hours of lectures. PBL sessions allow me to think critically about the case in a way that helps me to better retain the information. Outside of the course material, small group sessions are a ton of fun! Having seven other people working through the case along with you fosters a collaborative environment that is often absent at medical schools with traditional lecture styles.

Another reason that I chose Mizzou was the option to get involved with MedZou, our student run clinic for uninsured patients. While first year students start clinical encounters in the form of Standardized Patients beginning the first week of medical school, MedZou offers an additional opportunity to practice clinical skills outside of class time. I had originally intended to frequently volunteer at MedZou but instead took on a leadership role. I am now the Director of Specialty Services and get to go into clinic every Monday night! While this may sound like a lot of work, I appreciate the opportunity to remind myself why I came to medical school in the first place.

Brenden Stealey

Brenden Stealey

Bio

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Undergrad: Saint Louis University

Major: Communication Sciences and Disorders

Med Specialty: Otolaryngology (ENT)

basntc@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: I first heard about Mizzou Med from a couple friends that were here and they couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. I am from Missouri and wanted to learn more about the school because it was close to home and had heard about such positive experiences here. As I learned more about the school, I felt more and more that this would be a great place for me to attend medical school.

When I came to visit during Interview Day, I was excited about everything they were talking about, including the Patient-Based Learning curriculum instead of a simply lecture based curriculum, the anatomy lab with the opportunity to get hands-on experience, the support of administrative staff, and the camaraderie among students. It really did feel like home. When I found out I was accepted to Mizzou Med I knew immediately that I would be accepting the offer. I am thankful every day that I chose Mizzou Med and continue to love being a medical student here.

M2s

Peter Eskander

Peter Eskander

Bio

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Undergrad: University of Southern California

Major: Public Health and Theater Arts

Med Specialty: ENT/Urology

peb5m@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: As a California native, I had only heard of Mizzou because one of my undergraduate mentors was very familiar with the program and felt that I would fit well within the PBL curriculum. His initial recommendation pushed me to learn more about this program 1700 miles from home and the more I read about the entire PBL process and the sort of academic success Mizzou students enjoy, the more I realized that I should definitely apply.

After my interview, I was drawn to the fact that Mizzou afforded its students more autonomy with respect to our time and learning styles, which I knew would be great for me as someone who is a self-directed learner. I also loved the way Mizzou's schedule works - 8 weeks on, 1 week of exams, and a 1 week break to do whatever my little heart desired. The idea of using that 1 week of as a recharge in between blocks was extremely appealing to me and I have since used my breaks to travel the world and spend time with my loved ones.

I sit here now, a year and some change into my medical education, and I couldn't be happier to be at Mizzou. I love having the ability to dictate, more or less, how I spend that precious little resource called time and doing so has played a massive role in my academic success. I'm so glad to be at such a supportive school and I'm always thankful that my journey has brought me here.

Racy Guinan

Racy Guinan

Bio

Hometown: Columbia, MO

Undergrad: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Major: Dance

Med Specialty: Interested in Emergency Medicine, Primary Care

rcbfy6@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: After college, I moved to New York City to pursue a career in modern dance. In my second year in the City, I became an EMT and eventually pursued additional training to become a paramedic. During this process, I made the hard decision to shift my career goals from the art world to medicine and completed a post-baccalaureate program at the City College of New York.

I applied to medical schools all over the country and was pleased to get an interview at Mizzou despite being considered an out-of-state student. The interview experience here was by far my favorite, I was blown away by the facilities, the friendliness of everyone I met, and could easily imagine myself sitting at one of the PBL lab desks in the near future. I was also thrilled at the opportunity to live so close to my parents and siblings after many years far from home.

Looking back, I didn't even choose MU for what I now know to be the best part of the school - the PBL curriculum. Working in a such a collaborative way with different people all the time has been tremendously fun but also (I hope) great preparation for the rest of my medical training and eventual career. It's also helped forge meaningful relationships with faculty facilitators and fellow students.

Lastly, and perhaps surprisingly, Columbia is a great place to live. It's small enough that I can commute by bicycle but big enough to have a decent food, music, art, and festival scene, even for my Brooklyn-born husband. The low cost of living is also a huge benefit as a family of two graduate students, and we are able to live comfortably in a small house near campus with our dog and cats. Feel free to reach out with any questions!

Busha Hika

Busha Hika

Bio

Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD

Undergrad: South Dakota State University

Major: Human Biology; Minor: Chemistry

Med Specialty: Surgical Specialty

bhkbf@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: Hi, future doctors! My name is Busha Hika, and I am originally from Ethiopia, and I moved to the United States about 7 years ago. I graduated from South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology with a Minor in Chemistry.

I have always wanted to be a doctor since I was in middle school. I grew up in rural Ethiopia, where there is no access road, clean water, and electricity, and we had to walk 3 to 4 hours to get basic health services. Growing up in this manner, I developed a passion for helping people. It was the first time I thought about being a doctor when I grew up. I wanted to learn what to do to help people get well and stay well. I remember my 7th-grade Geography teacher asking me what I would want to be, and I told him I want to be a Doctor and help the community. He then nicknamed me “Doctor”. Although I did not get the opportunity to study medicine in Ethiopia, I became a Clinical Nurse and worked as a Nurse in a remote village for about 5 years. When I moved to the United States, I knew this is a country where I can pursue my dream to become a doctor.

I chose Mizzou for several reasons: the welcoming and great staff, the Patient Based Learning (PBL) curriculum, the collaborative learning environment, MedZou student-run free clinic, and great outdoor activities that Columbia offers. We did mock PBL sessions during the Second Look Day and I enjoyed the process. With PBL, you start to think critically like a physician starting from day one. It is also a collaborative learning environment. MedZou Community Health Clinic is also another major reason why I chose Mizzou Med. MedZou is a student-run free clinic that serves uninsured Central Missourians, and it provides opportunities for students to give back to the community. There are also several leadership positions at MedZou, and I was so fortunate to be one of the Student Directors for a year. Lastly, the Columbia area offers many outdoor activities such as walking, biking, and hiking trails, but it also has a great downtown vibe and the city is full of really good restaurants.

Good luck with the application process, and please, do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have

Brandon Kellogg

Brandon Kellogg

Bio

Hometown: Columbia, MO

Undergrad: Mizzou!!

Major: Biochem and Poly Sci

Med Specialty: Anesthesia, Urology, Peds

brkptf@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: Mizzou is awesome. Columbia is my hometown and I grew up right around the University. I’ve been here for undergrad, grad, and now medical school. Columbia is a wonderful town with a lot to offer.

Mizzou Med also has a ton to offer. PBL curriculum is a terrific learning tool. Every member of your group is going to look at the same problem with different perspectives. This makes the learning process very unique as you hear experiences from so many different people.

One of my absolute favorite parts about Mizzou Med is the people. You have over 100 people going through the exact same thing with you. Mizzou creates an environment that encourages everyone to share resources and learn together. Every block you get eight weeks to really get to know your PBL group and make some great friends with it.

Feel free to ask me any questions about my favorite restaurants in CoMo, working at Chuck E. Cheese, the Navy’s Health Professions Scholarship, or even school related stuff.

Mackenzie Maberry

Mackenzie Maberry

Bio

Hometown: Bethalto, IL

Undergrad: Truman State University

Major: Biology

Med Specialty: Emergency Medicine

mdmnrd@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: I was between several schools when it came time for me to decide where I wanted to attend medical school. I considered many factors, such as cost, location, curriculum, and reputation of the school overall. At the end of the day, however, it came down to how I felt on my interview day. No other institution made me feel like Mizzou did. Everyone I met was excited to have me there, was genuinely interested in who I was, and I could tell they wanted me to succeed just as much as I wanted to succeed. One of my interviewers asked me detailed questions about my research in undergrad, and the other had me draw with crayons. Both were extremely intelligent, friendly, and welcoming members of the Mizzou Med team.

I am beyond grateful I chose to call Mizzou home during my medical training. My class feels like a family. We support each other, spend time doing non-school things, and most importantly, I am not afraid to make mistakes or ask them for help. I couldn't have asked for a more fun-loving, hard working, supportive group of close friends to go through medical school with. The PBL model definitely fosters this environment, and I wouldn't be where I am today had I not chosen to come to Mizzou!

Kyle Maryan

Kyle Maryan

Bio

Hometown: Saint Charles, MO

Undergrad: Mizzou

Major: Medicinal Chemistry & Psychology

Med Specialty: Unknown

kamknc@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: As an undergraduate student at Mizzou, I had the privilege of knowing a lot about the medical school before actually having to apply. I saw the replacement of the old/windowless school with a new facility consisting of many windows, big screen TVs, an amazing anatomy lab, and relaxing student study areas. The environment you spend all of your time in is important, and Mizzou made that a priority.

I was also able to experience the PBL process in a pre-med student group. Working through a case, even before I knew absolutely anything about medicine, was an exciting experience. I felt like I was on an episode of House. Getting to freely share my ideas and hypothesize diagnoses with a group of my peers was a learning environment that I knew I could succeed in.

Outside of the medical school, I already knew the vast amount of activities, restaurants, and housing that was available in Columbia. It was a city I could spend another four years in.

After learning all of these details about Mizzou, choosing to apply here was just as easy as accepting the position.

Hunter Sheckley

Hunter Sheckley

Bio

Hometown: Nixa MO

Undergrad: College of the Ozarks

Major: Human and Molecular Biology

Graduate: Missouri State University

Graduate Major: Public Health

Med Specialty: Pediatric Neurology

hlsdhc@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: Hi! My name is Hunter Sheckley, and I'll do my best to help you in any way that I can!

The process I went through to get to Mizzou was fairly traditional. I was homes chooled because my military upbringing forced us to constantly move all over the country. After living most of my life on the east coast, I moved to Missouri, where I finished out high school in Nixa. After High School I began my undergrad studies at the College of the Ozarks where I received a bachelor's degree in human and molecular biology as well as a minor in chemistry. From there I had a gap year in which I went to Missouri State, where I studied public health and received a graduate certificate. Alongside my graduate studies, I worked on neuroscience research at the Center for Biomedical and Life Sciences in Springfield, MO. While all of these programs helped me get to Mizzou (and they are all great), I can say without a doubt that my experience at Mizzou has been my favorite.

Here is why Mizzou is my favorite. Since I started school as a home schooler I learned that sometimes your best teacher is yourself. With the PBL program you have to teach your self in order to teach your classmates. This not only forces me to learn the topics that I present on very well but it also helps me be a better teacher. The word Doctor literally means "to teach". Similar to being good teachers, doctors must be good communicators and the PBL process fosters communication skills on a weekly basis. I appreciate this aspect of the curriculum because as an introvert it forces me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. Finally, I love Mizzou because the curriculum is fun. Going into an unknown PBL case and trying to figure it out is an exciting and fun way to make the studying worth it.

Now you are probably bored reading about school so I will save you from the boredom and talk about the non-school stuff. I'm very active outside of school. I love doing Crossfit, mountain biking, cooking, going to church, grocery shopping (yeah it's weird), going to metal concerts, and drinking coffee anywhere that I can. While med school has been tough, Mizzou provides its students with enough free time to allow for hobbies. The free time has been instrumental in my mental health and has helped me experience 2 of the best years of my life.

I am here for any questions. I can answer the standard questions like how much do I study, or what does my day looks like or is med school hard? If you want to talk to a fellow military brat, I'm your man. If you have to take a gap year and you are afraid, I've been there. What's the best coffee shop to study at? I'll tell you. I can't think of any more creative topics, but essentially I will talk about anything. Shoot me an email, and I will try to answer all of your questions. Cheers!

Cynthia Tang

Cynthia Tang

Bio

Hometown: Boise, Idaho

Undergrad: The College of Idaho

Major: Chemistry

Med Specialty: Undecided

ct3dg@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU: Hi Prospective Students! My name is Cynthia Tang, and I am an MD-PhD student from Boise, Idaho. I graduated from the The College of Idaho with a major in chemistry and minors in philosophy and international development. After college, I moved to St. Louis to do bench and clinical research for several years. This was where I discovered my passion for patient care and medicine.

I chose Mizzou for many reasons. Most importantly, I chose Mizzou for its mission to train well-rounded, compassionate physicians. I love our unique Patient Based Learning curriculum which promotes team-based learning through real clinical cases rather than a traditional lecture-based curriculum. This provides a lot of flexibility in our schedules which allows us to be more involved in interest groups, research, and hobbies outside of medicine (I enjoy yoga, figure skating, and traveling). We also have many opportunities to gain hands-on experience during our pre-clinical years, from volunteering at the MedZou Community Health Clinic to participating in Ambulatory Clinical Experiences. Finally, I get to work closely and collaboratively with my classmates. Not being from Missouri, I quickly developed an incredible and growing family away from home.

I am very happy with my decision to attend Mizzou Med, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have about Mizzou and medical school in general. I can also provide some insight on being a non-traditional student, a first generation college student, and an MD-PhD student. Please don't hesitate to reach out--I look forward to hearing from you!

M3s

Katie Bernal

Katie Bernal

Bio

  • Hometown: Livermore, CA

  • Undergrad: UC Davis

  • Major: Biological Sciences

  • Graduate: Georgetown University

  • Graduate Major: Physiology and Biophysics

  • Med Specialty: Undecided

  • Email: Ceb98x@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU

Hello Everybody! My name is Katie Bernal and it still feels like yesterday that I was going through the process of applying to medical school. Looking at my info, I bet you’re asking why in the world would anyone move out of California, you crazy person! It’s a bit of a tale, let me tell you.

I chose to pursue BioSci as my major at UC Davis because I loved the sciences, not because I was set on medicine. I was quite indecisive with what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that I came from a family full of teachers and that wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. It was during my first senior year (yes I took 2) at UC Davis that I discovered the incredibly powerful experience of using my love for science to help others while working as home staff for adults with developmental disabilities. 

I knew I wanted to do something in medicine, but was unsure if I wanted to become a physician. There are no doctors in the family, but one nurse who advocated very strongly for me to follow her footsteps. I would spend the next several years exploring different fields of medicine: nursing, physical therapy, behavioral health and even as an EMT. 

It was during a physician shadowing experience where, standing in my first OR, I fell in love. This was it. I knew had to be a physician. After that, and since it had now been close to 5 years since I graduated, I went back to school and did the SMP at Georgetown in D.C. 

Sometimes it takes a little longer to take the first step into becoming a physician and for me it took more than one try. Never fear and don’t give up. I gained so many amazing experiences in that time and grew into the person I am today; so that when the profession called, I was ready.

I first heard about Mizzou Med from the awesome Robin Clay. The more I learned about the patient-based learning (PBL) program, Mizzou’s message and collaborative learning environment it fostered, the more I knew this was a place I could see myself learn well and be happy. I am not one for the lecture-based traditional style as I have a hard time staying focused and sitting still for a long time. To me, PBL was the perfect fit. 

At my interview day I was impressed with the family-like atmosphere of the place. I stayed with an Ambassador during my visit and even though they were in the midst of STEP studying, they did not hesitate to make me feel welcomed. That collaborative environment was a huge driver for me and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to come here. 

Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you have questions, concerns or simply need some positive vibes!

Jordan Cruz

Jordan Cruz

Bio

  • Hometown: Springville, UT
  • Undergrad: Utah Valley University
  • Major: Exercise Science
  • Med Specialty: Interested in Peds, Med Peds, Internal Medicine, Family Practice
  • Email: Jwcrf2@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU

First off, I love Mizzou! I am different from your average student in that I am from Utah, I am married and have a daughter, come from a Hispanic family, lived in Peru for 2 years in-between school, and many other differences. Through the PBL process and Mizzou Med as a whole, I am able to schedule my own time and have the time to navigate medical school while also taking care of, and spend time with, my family. I am happy that I chose the University of Missouri and would definitely make the same choice again if I had the chance. I have found great friends not only in my M1 class, but in the administrators and office of medical education. Not only are the students at Mizzou Med extremely collaborative, but also every faculty member and advisor that I have had the opportunity to work with have been genuinely interested in my success. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Hope to see you here in the future!

Brad Emmerich

Brad Emmerich

Bio

  • Hometown: Madison, WI
  • Undergrad: University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Major: Kinesiology, Biology
  • Med Specialty: Possibly Emergency Medicine?
  • Email: bwermf@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU

I have spent almost my entire life outside of the state of Missouri. Being from out-of-state, I knew very little about MU School of Medicine when I applied. When I came to Columbia for the first time on the day of my interview, I experienced an atmosphere that I did not experience at the other schools I interviewed at. The fellow interviewees were friendly, and the current medical students seemed happy. Furthermore, when I attended Second Look Day, I connected with numerous future classmates I am still great friends with today.

After realizing I could be happy here, I did my research to ensure I could be successful in this learning environment. MUSOM consistently performs well above the national average on the USMLE Step 1 Exam. Doing well opens doors regarding medical specialty choice and residency location. This is in large part due to our patient-based learning (PBL) curriculum which is credited with not only our stellar performance on Step 1, but also better preparing us for our third- and fourth-year clinical rotations.

Choosing a medical school is an important step in your professional career. I concluded that MUSOM was the right fit for me personally and professionally. Hopefully you reach the same conclusion! If you have any questions regarding being from out of state, taking a gap year (I worked in a hospital for a year between undergrad and medical school), or any questions in general, feel free to reach out!

Eric Grisham

Eric Grisham

Bio

  • Hometown: Washington, MO
  • Undergrad: Loyola University Chicago
  • Major: Psychology
  • Med Specialty: Unknown
  • Email: eaggzd@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU

Hello future MD candidates! My name is Eric Grisham. I am here to tell you that it does get better. When I was younger, I did not to be a doctor. And yet, here I am and here you go!

I took a somewhat circuitous route to medical school. After graduating high school, I moved to Chicago to attend Loyola University Chicago and pursue degrees in music performance (violin) and English literature. Two years into my education, I realized that many of the things that I loved about English and about music would still be available to me regardless of my career. So, I took a step back and started looking at my other interests. 

It turns out that I loved science; many of the things that interested me about literature were rooted in understanding human nature, and the scientific underpinnings of human nature fascinated me. I began pursing a degree in psychology and never looked back. I started to imagine a career as a doctor. And what better way to combine science, human connection, and academia than with medicine? After quickly taking all the pre-requisite courses and spending a few years working in the healthcare field as a medical technologist, a phlebotomist, an ER scribe, and a pharmacy technician, I knew that I needed to be a physician. 

Mizzou Medicine is a great place to be! I was accepted very late off of the waitlist (I don't recommend doing that! The anticipation was a bit scary...), but I've always been treated like any other student. My classmates and I have quickly become close friends and the patient-based learning (PBL) process allows us to apply our new clinical skills in a way that many medical students don't get to do. The curriculum is rooted in basic science, but also in real human experiences. Mizzou has quickly become my new home. When I'm not studying, I enjoy playing violin, reading, listening to music, taking part in research, playing soccer, and participating in various Mizzou Med organizations. 

If you have any questions about my experience at Mizzou Med, applying as an out-of-state or waitlisted applicant, or what life is like in Columbia, I urge you to email me! I'd be happy to share my experiences regarding what worked for me as I applied as a non-traditional applicant and to speak to my experiences here so far. Best of luck!

Shelby Harris

Shelby Harris

Bio

  • Hometown: Nixa, MO
  • Undergrad: Missouri State University
  • Major: Cell and Molecular Biology, Chemistry
  • Med Specialty: Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Email: Smhfp8@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU

Hello prospective students! I’m Shelby Harris and I am wishing you all the best in your journey in applying to medical school, and I am here to give you some of my background and how I ended up at Mizzou!

Some background: Growing up, both of my parents worked in the medical field and I have always had a strong interest in medicine. I was lucky enough to be able to play football collegiately at MSU, and this had a big impact on my college experience and education. I was able to be involved in research at the Jordan Valley Innovation Center, associated with MSU, and this was a passion of mine throughout undergrad. I completed research projects involving silver-resistant bacteria, as well as projects in the gut microbiome. Many of my pre-med friends were highly involved in the hospital with either jobs or other experiences, but I had a different pre-med experience with my focuses being athletics and research so I was a little unique in my road to medical school. I began attending Mizzou Med the fall directly after undergrad! 

Throughout the application process, I had my eyes set on Mizzou. I had visited Columbia for undergraduate college visits and other various occasions growing up, and the campus and surrounding community had always felt like home to me. SEC athletics creates a sporty atmosphere that I love. The medical school building connects to the hospital to create its own medical community, but is also is right by recreational fields and blends with the main campus so it is the best of both worlds. We are the first class in the new building, and the new facilities are amazing and truly cannot accurately be put into words (this is a huge perk). The Columbia area offers many outdoor activities such as walking/biking trails and dog parks, but also has a great downtown vibe and the city is full of really good restaurants. I knew about the Patient Based Learning curriculum throughout the application process, but I didn’t really understand what that meant until I had gone through the interviews and really talked about it with some of the current students. I really fell in love with the sound of the curriculum as we utilize groups and walk through real clinical cases, and truly get to study however we study best. This was very appealing to me! The students and faculty were always genuine to me throughout the application process but as a current student I can say that they continue to care about each and every one of us. My classmates have become my best friends and that makes the whole experience a really great time!

I have really enjoyed my time here at Mizzou, and still get to enjoy hobbies like spending time with my dog Rocky, going to many Mizzou athletic events (yes there is time for that), and even traveling on our breaks from school. I would love to answer any questions that you have, and would love to expand upon my experience here at Mizzou. Please feel free to email me, and I look forward to hearing from you!

photo pending

Ally Tucker

Bio

  • Hometown: Saint Louis, MO
  • Undergrad: Belmont University - Nashville, TN
  • Major: Spanish and Business Administration 
  • Med Specialty: I’m interested in Trauma Surgery or Orthopaedics
  • Email: amt3c7@health.missouri.edu 
  • Other Important Info: I am Air Force HPSP and in a long-distance relationship 

Why I Chose MU

I’ve always had my own way of doing things, and it turns out that medical school is no different. I am a non-traditional student: I had no idea I wanted to do medicine until I got home from a year-long stint in Norway. I had taken one chemistry class in undergrad and had absolutely no other experience. I also had nowhere to live, no way to pay for prerequisite classes, and no idea what I was doing. I definitely felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants the whole time. It’s a long story, but despite all the obstacles, I was able to figure it out and make it happen. Which still sometimes seems like something of a miracle (as well as the result of a ton of elbow grease.) I now mentor several pre-med students in many different phases of the application process, and it brings me so much joy to help other people in the process that made me feel so lost and more than a little bit hopeless. 

Now that I’m here, it’s so wonderful to be working so hard for something that is meaningful. It’s a nice change of pace, from working so hard just to get in! The curriculum here really is very open to your own personal learning style. It leaves me so much time to do all the other things I love, like taking my dog to the park, doing CrossFit and yoga and traveling home to see my boyfriend. There’s room for balance at Mizzou, and that means you can make it through school without giving up all the things that make your life fun. 

So, I am available to answer questions, email, have coffee, calm fears… I know I needed all those things when I was pre-med and during the first year of medical school. This process doesn’t have to be miserable. I think medical school is actually pretty fun if you do it the right way. Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have, or if you just need to know a friendly face when you walk on campus. 

M4s

Faria Ahmed

Faria Ahmed

Bio

  • Hometown: Bettendorf, Iowa
  • Undergrad: Augustana College
  • Major: Biology, psychology
  • Med Specialty: Undecided
  • Email: faq39@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU

Hi, prospective medical students! As you can see, I’m not originally from Missouri, although I’ve lived here for the past several years. I am also a pretty non-traditional student in terms of my experiences before medical school. I grew up in Iowa and went to a small liberal arts school in Illinois for undergrad. I was interested in medicine and had the idea of medical school in the back of my mind, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to make that commitment right away. Instead, I spent a year volunteering with Americorps in St. Louis. Afterward, I went to graduate school for my Master of Public Health and Master of Social Work, but as I completed my internships and started looking for jobs after graduation, I knew that what I really wanted to do was go to medical school. I worked as a clinical research coordinator in oncology at Washington University after completing my grad program while I applied to medical school. As a coordinator, I worked really closely with the patients and their families, as well as the physicians and clinical teams. I enjoyed what I did, but it affirmed my decision that going back to school, yet again, was the right choice.

Now that I’m at Mizzou, I know that I made the right choice of school as well. Coming from a social sciences background, I knew that sitting in lecture all day, every day was the exact opposite of how I learned best. The Patient-Based Learning curriculum means that instead we spend a lot more time learning from each other and seeing how the information we learn in the lectures fits into the clinical picture of our PBL cases. In undergrad and graduate school, I sometimes struggled with seeing how my education would really play out in my career, and at Mizzou, how my education relates to my career is apparent from the very beginning. It’s also nice that we have more free time than other curriculum styles, which means more time to learn the material, more time to get involved with organizations at school and more time just to live life. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, especially in regard to changing careers or being a non-traditional student! You can reach me at faq39@health.missouri.edu.

Melissa An

Melissa An

Bio

  • Hometown: St. Louis
  • Undergrad Institution: Dartmouth College
  • Major: Neuroscience; Minor: Anthropology of global health
  • Med Specialty: Undecided
  • Email: ma8vd@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU

Hi everyone! Congrats on getting this far on your journey into medicine, and we’re excited to share our take on what medical school is like at Mizzou. Looking back on my own path, I was always somewhat drawn toward medicine from a young age, and I credit my different experiences throughout my undergraduate and gap years for ultimately shaping my career goals. Through my undergraduate roles as a residential advisor and mentor, along with my clinical experiences, I better understood my love for working and connecting with people. My extensive involvement in global health efforts in college developed my strong interest in the intersection of social justice and health care, which became a big driver of my decision to pursue medicine. From there, I had the opportunity to deeply engage in health care at the population level, with a health communications Centers for Disease Control internship and two gap years at a diabetes/obesity-focused health care information company. All of these combined experiences cemented my passion to go into medicine to not only provide compassionate, patient-centered care, but also to use a physician’s influence to work toward greater health equity across the United States and the world.

Now at Mizzou, I’ve been able to continue this path. While I call St. Louis my hometown, I’ve lived around the country for the past six years, having gone to school in the Northeast and spending my gap years in San Francisco. Coming to Mizzou has been an amazing way for me to return home, and while I had some anxiety moving to Columbia from my big-city work life, I have been more than pleasantly surprised by what Mizzou has to offer. The Patient-Based Learning curriculum has given me the chance to really feel like a problem-solving physician from day one, and the Mizzou community provides a great support network for the students here, as well as opportunities to learn more about my career interests outside of class.

If you have any questions on applying as an out-of-state applicant, on what life is like in Columbia, what public/global health looks like here, or really anything else, please don’t hesitate to email me!

Jack Andrews

Jack Andrews

Bio

  • Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
  • Undergraduate: The Ohio State University
  • Majors: Animal sciences and psychology
  • Med Specialty: Undecided
  • Email: andrewsjh@missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU

Hi, future doctors! My name is Jack, and as you can see above, I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio. I will always be very proud of my roots in the Buckeye State, but I am now equally proud to be a student of the University of Missouri School of Medicine. More specifically, I am actually a student in our school’s combined MD/PhD program, so in addition to my medical degree, I will also be completing a PhD in clinical psychology.

You may not know this, but Mizzou is actually one of only a handful of universities in the country that allows MD/PhD students to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology (most schools limit students to choosing PhD programs in more traditional biomedical sciences). I’m telling you this in part because it helps to explain why I chose to come here myself, but more important, because it is great example of why I think you should choose to come here, too. The thing that I love most about Mizzou Med is the incredibly supportive environment it provides for all students. Just as I and other students are freely encouraged to complete a PhD in any field of study that we choose, so also will you be welcomed and fully supported in pursuing whatever passions or new ideas you may have.

The top priority of every person in the MU School of Medicine is to ensure that we as students become the most effective, ethical, compassionate, inspired and astute health care professionals that we can possibly be. From the first minute I arrived on campus for my interviews, I have seen this demonstrated by the actions of every staff member, professor and administrator I have encountered. They greet everyone with a smile and are always willing to stop, listen and respond when we have questions or feedback. They truly value diverse perspectives, encourage independent thinking and student-driven change and provide resources to help us thrive inside and outside of the classroom. Equally incredible is the support that we receive from our fellow students. It is humbling to see the amount of time older students spend mentoring and getting to know younger students here. The 100 percent collaborative nature of our curriculum truly makes all 100-plus members of our class feel like family.

I know all of this may sound too good to be true, but I assure you it’s not. I would never waste valuable study time to write this if I didn’t honestly feel so strongly! I feel incredibly fortunate to be a student here, and I know that you will, too, if you decide to come here. So please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email if you have any questions at all! I’d love to share any information that may be helpful to you, including my perspective as an MD/PhD student, as a non-traditional student (I took four years off after undergrad), or as an out-of-state student (I was a little worried initially about moving from a much bigger city, but I’ve been in Columbia for more than three years now, and I love it).

Matt Hirabayashi

Matt Hirabayashi

Bio

  • Hometown: St. Louis
  • Undergraduate: Saint Louis University
  • Major: Biology
  • Med Specialty:  Undecided
  • Email: mthc8b@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU

Hello! My name is Matt Hirabayashi and I’m an M1 from Chesterfield, Mo. I graduated from Saint Louis University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and came here right after college for medical school! I’m happy to answer any questions you have about Mizzou, Patient-Based Learning or anything else prospective students may be wondering about!

My interest in medicine started a long time ago when my grandfather required some bypass surgeries. It was remarkable to me that a team of health care professionals could work together to make such an incredible impact on my family. Throughout school I was naturally drawn to science and shadowed different physicians, which really solidified my decisions to live a life of continuous learning and service to others.

Many things stood out about MU when applying. The patient-based learning curriculum sounded like it would fit in well with how I learn best. Along with that, all the people I encountered while applying were extremely kind and caring. The students were really helpful and it was certainly indicative of the non-competitive and collaborative atmosphere here. This was definitely the right decision for me!

In between studying, I’m very passionate about fitness, listening to/making music and many other little hobbies. Finding a healthy life balance is incredibly important, and Columbia definitely offers many opportunities for that! Please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions! It wasn’t that long ago I was exactly where you are!

Megan McCaul

Megan McCaul

Bio

  • Hometown: Rolla, Mo.
  • Undergrad: Westminster College
  • Major: Biochemistry with a biological emphasis
  • Med Specialty: Undecided
  • Email: mem795@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU

I have wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember, because each day growing up I got to hear about all of the cool things that my parents had done at work. As I have gotten older, I have discovered many more reasons why I want to be a physician, some of which I am sure you share with me. Because of this, I chose the major at my college that was the best fit with medical school requirements. While taking those classes, I realized over and over how much I really wanted to be a physician. I realized, too, that I wanted to go to a medical school that gave me that same feeling each day.

Mizzou Med reminds me each week during Patient-Based Learning just how much I want to be a physician. My classmates have quickly become some of my best friends, and they push me to achieve more and to know more than I did the day before. During PBL, I get to apply the things that I have been learning my whole life toward a new case each week. During these cases I get to learn so many new things in a way that is fun for me. While we are working through the problems of our patient each week, we are also learning the basic science that is crucial for our understanding. Our facilitators are great and help to keep us on track without being stuck in a lecture hall all day. Mizzou’s curriculum has been a great fit for me thus far, and I am excited for it to continue.

While in undergrad, I was really involved in various campus organizations, and that is something that I hoped to continue during medical school. At Mizzou there are a ton of different organizations to get involved with that have really helped me to feel more connected to the school. I like feeling engaged with my school community because that is what allowed me to feel instantly at home at Westminster, and I have been so happy to find the same thing at Mizzou.

Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you have. I love to share my experiences, and I would love to help you during this exciting time of your life! I am also a Bryant Scholar, so if you have any questions about the Bryant program or rural track, please feel free to reach out.

Garrett Ungerer

Garrett Ungerer

Bio

  • Hometown: Arnold, Mo.
  • Undergraduate: University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • Major: Biology
  • Graduate: Saint Louis University
  • Major: Master of medical science physician assistant
  • Med Specialty: Neurosurgery or neurointervention
  • Email: gnuxbb@mizzou.edu

Why I Chose MU

I would consider myself an alternative medical student. I did not start my undergraduate years knowing what I wanted to do, and after completing a biology degree, I still had quite a bit of uncertainty. No one in my family is a physician or associated with health care, so I had little exposure growing up. But I did know three things about myself that I wanted to incorporate into my future profession. First, I wanted to work in a profession that served other people. I knew that if I felt that I was truly making a difference in peoples’ lives, my career would feel less like a job and more like a purpose. Secondly, I wanted to pursue something that would continue to allow me to work with my hands. I have spent countless hours perfecting woodworking skills, remodeling houses, playing guitar and solving problems, all with my hands. I take great satisfaction from any task that I can complete in a hands-on manner, and I wanted a career that allowed me to continue to work with them on a daily basis. Thirdly, I was seeking a profession that would continue to challenge me intellectually, allowing me to continue a lifelong endeavor for knowledge and self-betterment.

Following college, I did some soul searching and ultimately realized a career in medicine satisfied all the criteria. At that point, however, I was unsure how to best pursue such an important profession. I further researched careers in medicine, and two paths unfolded in front of me. The first was a career as a physician, but the long medical school followed by the even longer residency was daunting at the time. I instead chose to become a physician assistant, and it was during this educational process that I fell deeply in love with every facet of medicine, both academically and clinically. Following graduation from PA school in 2011, I joined a neurosurgery group in Saint Louis. Becoming a PA solidified my love for medicine, and working as a neurosurgical PA solidified my even deeper love and appreciation for the neurosciences. As an integrated part of our medical team, I was afforded the opportunity to take care of patients during every stage of their disease process. The more I interacted with patients, their families and other members of the care team, the more I was exposed to difficult cases with complex pathological processes and the more I realized how little I truly knew.

My decision to become a physician was not an easy one, primarily because I already had a profession that I sincerely enjoyed. Ultimately, I realized that everything that I loved about being a PA would only be magnified as a physician. As a current Mizzou medical student, I find myself constantly submerged in new clinical experiences and a more in-depth medical education, and I could not feel more confident in my decision to become a physician.

Joseph Zimmer

Joseph Zimmer

Bio

  • Hometown: Rogersville, Mo.
  • Undergrad: Missouri State University
  • Major: Chemistry
  • Specialty: Undecided
  • Email:  jznp6@health.missouri.edu

Why I Chose MU

Hello all, my name is Joe Zimmer, and I am from a small town outside of Springfield, Mo. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry the year before coming to MU.

I grew up without much exposure to medicine, but I always enjoyed school (particularly my science classes) and I developed a curiosity for medicine through high school. My primary passion in those years was sports, which ultimately led me to wrestle for the University of Nebraska after high school. Realizing that my passion had shifted from wrestling to the field of medicine, I gave up my athletic career and dove headfirst into learning more about medicine. I transferred and finished my chemistry degree while working as a scribe in the emergency department and shadowing at every opportunity I could get. I was excited to pursue a career I found mentally stimulating and challenging but also offered the opportunity to work with people and serve my community.

Through the application process, I was very excited to start my medical education at an institution that would help me learn the skills necessary to become a skilled, patient-centered physician. Needless to say, Mizzou was my dream school! The Patient-Based Learning curriculum allows us to approach our education working as a team of doctors, thinking critically and compassionately. Collaboration with classmates is a huge part of the program, which helps develop our ability to work as a team. It also really makes our class very close, which is a lot of fun! In addition to getting lectures from an excellent, diverse faculty, we learn how to become successful, self-directed learners equipped with the skills necessary to be students of medicine for the rest of our careers.

Most important, the medical school and Office of Medical Education (OME) staff are great! Whenever I need help with anything, academic or unrelated, I know that there are so many smiling faces that are eager to help. That personality is infectious, and I believe is part of what makes MU the exciting learning environment that it is.

When I’m not spending time at school, I enjoy exercising at the rec center, exploring Columbia’s incredible mountain biking/hiking trails with classmates and playing some bluegrass music on my guitar! If you have any questions, please let me know at jznp@health.missouri.edu and I would be happy to help. Best of luck to you!