by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Four Dickinsonians earned scholarships this spring that will help them prepare for medical careers. Courtney Capella '16, a December graduate, received funds to suport her studies in medical school, and juniors Emma Batchelder, Aphnie Germain and Jessica Hampton earned a prize to support their work at Dickinson next year.
Capella, who studied biochemistry & molecular biology at Dickinson, earns the 2016 Mohler Prize, established by family, friends and students of Roy William Mohler, class of 1917, a Jefferson Medical College graduate, physician, educator and Dickinson trustee. Like Mohler, Capella will attend the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. It also is the hospital where she was born.
Capella’s interest in medicine stems from childhood checkups with an inspirational pediatrician who took a holistic approach to patient care. Her plans solidified during her first year at Dickinson, when she took a mini-Mosaic trip to Cuba centering on Cuban urban agriculture and sustainability. The trip included a visit to a Cuban health care center, and during in-depth talks with medical staff, Capella learned about that health care system's emphasis on humanitarianism, emergency relief and global aid. That experience moved her to think deeply about the ways medicine can shape and improve society, and how she could help further that aim.
The following year, Capella sought out hands-on experience in the field, volunteering in Carlisle as an emergency medical technician. She graduated last semester and is conducting research on childhood diabetes at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, a position she'll hold until entering medical school in July.
“I am so excited for the future challenges of my medical school education and career,” she says, "and I am very grateful for the financial help from this award."
Batchelder, Germain and Hampton are the recipients of the 2016 Forney P. George Award. Named for a late Carlisle doctor, the award is granted to Dickinson sophomores and juniors who demonstrate humanistic values and academic excellence and who plan to study medicine.
Like Capella, Batchelder realized her love of medicine early. She shadowed oncologists and observed research labs while still in high school and came to college with clear plans to enter the field.
A biochemistry & molecular biology major, Batchelder joined Associate Professor of Biology Michael Roberts in a student-faculty research project investigating differential gene expression in acute myeloid leukemia cells, and she held two internships at the Lancaster Cancer Center, working with the nursing team to tend to patients receiving chemotherapy treatment and infusions. In her free time, she is a student-advisor for the college's Office of Residence Life & Housing and a volunteer with I AM THAT GIRL, the President’s Commission for Women, the Trans Advocacy Committee and Girls on the Run.
“For me, the common denominator in so many of my interests is love and compassion, something that is becoming ever more important in medicine," says Batchelder, who points to relationship-building as a vital aspect of effective health care.“I’m very excited to be named a Forney P. George Scholar, because the award focuses on humanistic medicine, a concept that really defines how medicine should be practiced.”
Germain, a biology major, came to Dickinson on a Samuel Rose '58 Scholarship and also secured the National Science Foundation's NSF-STEP scholarship before being awarded the Forney P. George Prize this spring.
This past year, Germain conducted original research, alongside Associate Professor of Biology Missy Niblock, on the characterization of central chemoreceptors in the mouse brainstem, comparing how the retrotrapezoid nucleus (RTN) in both female and male mice responds to different levels of carbon dioxide. She also has volunteered in a nursing home and a holistic clinic, experiences that opened her eyes to the need to make quality healthcare more widely accessible.
When not studying, researching or volunteering, Germain is involved in track and field, the Pre-Health Society, the Latin & Caribbean Club and the African American Society. She studied abroad last fall through the Dickinson in England program.
After Dickinson and medical school, Germain hopes to build a clinic in her home country, Haiti. "For as long as I can remember, it has been my passion to help others who are hurt and cannot help themselves," she says. "Being named a Forney P. George Scholar means I am one step closer to my goal and that my hard work is finally paying off."
Humanistic medicine also is a passion for Hampton, a double major in neuroscience and biochemistry & molecular biology who has participated in, and helped coordinate, several Dickinson service trips, including the Center for Service, Spirituality & Social Justice’s winter trip to Belize.
She also is a neuroscience tutor, a member of Pi Beta Phi, the Pre-Health Society and Alpha Lambda Delta and a co-founder of Dickinson’s chapter of Peacework, a global nonprofit organization devoted to sustainable development.
Hampton's decided to pursue a career in medicine after her arrival on campus, when she realized that, as a physician or researcher, she could combine her love of science with her passion for community service. She's considering pursuing an M.D./Ph.D—with a Ph.D. in neuroscience or biochemistry—and then working in neurology.
“Being named a Forney P. George Scholar means being recognized for having the potential to succeed in a career as a physician-scientist,” says Hampton. “It motivates me to continue to find new opportunities to gain experience working with doctors and patients as well as to conduct research so I can become further prepared to enter medical school.”
Published May 16, 2016