Alumni in Medicine
Thursday, Dec. 03, 2009
Dr. William Lensch poses in his Harvard office wearing his USU Rodeo shirt underneath his lab coat.
Dr. David “Andy” Anderson already has his final donation to Utah State University planned. “The cadaver lab,” he says with a grin.
The lab, built almost exclusively for pre-health undergraduates, is just one of the uncommon university resources normally reserved for medical schools. Such material resources, however, make up only half of the battle in producing exemplary medical professionals.
The other half is even more impressive. Anderson and Yvonne Kobe of the pre-health advising committee spend about twenty hours on each student with medical (or dental) school aspirations, preparing them individually for all aspects of the application process. In addition to advising on classes, skills, exams and extracurricular activities, they perform a series of individual mock interviews. When it’s all over, the team sends committee letters to the medical schools, speaking from honest experience about each applicant’s assets. Anyone who wishes to undergo this uniquely effective committee process and apply is welcome to — proof that USU’s tremendous acceptance numbers aren’t skewed by weeding out the stragglers.
With the broad liberal arts background Utah State encourages for its applicants, as well as small, intense classes, and easy access to research faculty and facilities, students from all majors thrive in medical, dental, and grad schools. Later on, thanks to the university’s emphasis on real-world training, they thrive as doctors and researchers. Anderson says it feels good to receive a letter from a former student with the statement “I am more prepared than my peers.” In 28 years, he’s gotten quite a few. Meanwhile, with the long list of accomplished health care professionals indebted to him, his final donation should be a long way off.
Alumni spotlight: Dr. M. William Lensch ‘91
“To say we were poor would be generous,” says Willy Lensch of his time growing up on a small farm near Lehi, Utah. Good grades didn’t come easily through school, and in fact, he even withdrew from USU twice before eventually becoming the first member in the Lensch family history to graduate from college.
According to the man himself, Lensch was a “terrible” student, but members of the faculty saw something in him. “It is easy to invest one’s attention where it has the greatest likelihood of contributing to success,” he says, looking back. “However, to take time to nurture someone where there is every indication of wasted effort is a different matter … I am a scientist today because there were people who cared about me when I was struggling.”
He isn’t struggling now. As an instructor at Harvard Medical School and a researcher and advisor at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Lensch is swiftly becoming one of the world’s foremost experts on stem cell use.
USU Medical Legacy
- Dr. John C. Nelson ‘65: obstetrics and gynecology; President of the American Medical Association, 2004-05 (MD: Utah)
- Dr. Richard F. Daines ‘74: internal medicine; Commissioner of Health of the State of New York, 2007-present (MD: Cornell)
- Dr. John C. Perez ‘72: bacteriology; Director, Natural Toxins Research Center, 2000-present; named one of “100 Most Influential Hispanics in America” by Hispanic Business (PhD: Utah State)
- Dr. Annemarie Moseley ‘82: biotechnology; CEO, Repair Technologies (MD: Baylor; PhD: Utah State)
- Dr. Ted Epperly ’76: family medicine; President of American Academy of Family Physicians, 2007-present (MD: Washington)
- Dr. Michael J. Cevette ‘76: audiology; Head, Section of Audiology, Mayo Clinic Arizona (PhD: Utah)
- Dr. Shelley Agricola ‘75: anesthesiology/internal medicine; named top doctor by Seattle Magazine 2000, 2006-07 (MD: Utah)
- Dr. Jonathan B. Obray ‘95: anesthesiology; Mayo Clinic (MD: Johns Hopkins)
USU students: 73.2%
National average: 46%
USU students: 62.5%
National average: 35%