When Lissa Lubinski told one of her professors she was going to medical school, his response was: "That's great! Doctors aren't needed by anyone except the majority of the world's population."
Not that she needed a shove to cement her decision, but that kind of cheering on helped her thrive at Baylor. That encouraging professor was Dr. Marc Ellis, whom Lubinski knows through one of her favorite classes, "Hitler and the Holocaust."
Interested in that era of history since she was an adolescent, she eagerly signed on for the class. "As a child, I didn't understand the political and religious importance of it. I have a better perspective of all things that led up to that level of genocide, and understand that it could still happen."
The class also proved to be a good environment for discussions about faith with her peers. The opportunity for such exploration drew her to Baylor in the first place. "I knew I wouldn't be able to hide from questions about faith and spirituality here," she notes.
Lubinski was also drawn by the challenging University Scholars Program and found nothing else quite like it when researching universities. Enrolling in the program allowed her to design her own degree plan with an adviser, and she chose courses that helped her think outside of biology but were relevant to the pursuit of a pre-medical education. She leaves Baylor with a proficiency in Spanish and a focus on medical humanities, chemistry and biology.
Thanks to an Honors project encouraged by Dr. Ben Pierce, she also takes with her a better knowledge of research methods - as well as a pretty thorough understanding of roly-polies, tiny black crustaceans also known as pill bugs. Her research revealed that many of the bugs are females that started life as males and changed gender before they became adults.
She made this surprising discovery by placing the rolled-up bugs on a dissecting microscope and waiting patiently until they unfurled their tiny bodies. While they wriggled on their backs, she was able to look through the microscope and quite easily discern the sex.
"I chose that subject because I wanted to see what scientific research is like," says Lubinski. As fascinating as the research was, she also discovered that she prefers interaction to lab work. Her goal after medical school at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis is to be a doctor in places where doctors are sorely needed - rural locales and impoverished city neighborhoods. Instead of a specialty, she will focus on the "bigger picture" of the primary care physician. She wants to get to know the patient, his family, his lifestyle, and become his advocate for sound medical care.
Many of the important lessons Lubinski learned were outside of a classroom. "I learned the importance of knowing my own voice and striving to listen to it and fulfill my potential. I have the capacity to achieve things. And my professors were such a source of encouragement and inspiration."