Members of the class are inquisitive, accomplished and serious, yet fun-loving, friendly and unpretentious. They include musicians, singers, soccer players, bicycle riders, ultimate players, crew rowers, fly fishermen, Irish dancers and lots of runners. Many have been tutors, community and emergency room volunteers, while others have volunteered for widely known groups such as Teach for America, Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, American Cancer Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Special Olympics. The class also includes several students who were on their own and had to work a lot to fund their undergraduate educations.
Several came with international experiences in places such as Malawi, the Marshall Islands, South America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
And all of them are serious about learning, discovery and using medicine to help others. Every year, incoming students document these passions as they don their first white coats.
- Watch students express what the white coat symbolizes for each of them from the 2020 White Coat Ceremony »
- See the slide presentation from the 2017 White Coat Ceremony »
Our students have many different reasons and motivations for why they are here. Learn more about what made them want to become doctors and why they chose to come to medical school here at Washington University.
The Amazing and Occasionally Hilarious Self-Reported Special Talents, Hobbies and Uniqueness of the Entering Class of 2023
Members of the 2023 Entering Class shared a brief self-profile with their classmates and the School of Medicine community as they entered orientation week. Each provided their hometown, undergraduate institution, and major(s). Then things got interesting. Entering students were asked to provide a “special talent or hobby”, “something unique that few people know about me”, a word to describe themselves, a favorite song, and the “one thing that really drew me to WUSM”. The collection of profiles grew to be an inspirational read, as the students’ combined talents, interests, honesty, humanity, and senses of humor are truly remarkable.
We learned a new student has literally swum with sharks (and alligators), while others have lunched with Bill Nye or competed in Armenian dance. Among the future physicians and scientists is a former national Moroccan judo champion and a non-lover of chocolate. An admirer of Highland cows and several self-proclaimed procrastinators are members of the class. One confessed “a secret love of Legos, especially the Botanicals Collection” and another noted a near rescue by the Coast Guard. A new student can name all U.S. presidents in order, “in a moderately passable Australian accent”—a fun talent to pull out at a quiet party.
The ukelele seems to be an outlet of creativity for several member of the class, who play or are learning to play the instrument. Do you sing Bollywood and Tollywood duets, typically with your mom? We have one new student who does. Another confessed to a physical trifecta, saying “I don’t have many weird talents, but I can hyperextend my knees, wiggle my ears, and can whistle better than I can sing!” Do you like Bruce Springsteen? We have an entering MSTP student who has been to three of the Boss’ concerts with his grandmother. We learned of a student who grew up driving a motorcycle, but who took six years to successfully obtain a U.S. driver’s automobile license. A SMU alum has had 18 teeth pulled (perhaps part of his decision not to pursue dentistry?) Not to be outdone, another noted doing kindergarten twice, once in the U.S. and once in Taiwan—expanding the definition of early exposure to study abroad.
It is a pleasure to see the diversity of backgrounds. One new student can boast of triple citizenship. Another went to high school in rural South Dakota, in a town whose population was about 1300, while a classmate graduated from a high school in Vietnam. Yet another grew up on a cut flower farm. Our heart went out to the new student who shared, as a 2-year-old, that he “was scared of movers, so hid in the laundry room of his apartment, where his parents couldn’t find him for several hours”. Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire was the favorite geographical memory of youth for another, while yet another calls Tokyo home but just relocated to St. Louis from London. And, turning to geology instead of geography, a new student commented that she was “extremely well versed in Missouri, Kansas, and Ontario geological soil sciences”. That may a bit beyond the scope of our Gateway Curriculum…
Nappers are represented in the Entering Class of ‘23, as a student noted that he “can shamelessly fall asleep in most public spaces”. Some individual accomplishments go well beyond the ordinary—a student who created a bucket list in middle school and crossed four things off it in 2023. A former president of the WashU Juggling Club. An actress who was “in Ocean’s 8 for two seconds” and a military veteran who operated tactical UVAs in her three-year experience. Others can write in mirrored cursive, make a variety of cheeses from goat milk, or dissect a mouse eye “in 30 seconds”.
Need a snack? The cooking specialties of members of the new class range from red curry to croissants, coconut macaroons to “Filipino spring rolls called lumpia”. Among our foodies is one who accidentally was asked to be on the Food Network at age 14. A self-proclaimed “purple sweet potato king” loves “everything made from taro or ube”. One bragged that she never cries when cutting onions. Others have talents on the eating side of the equation—a new student who eats at Chipotle “at least four times a week” and a competitor who can “eat a 5 Guys burger in 50 seconds”. A Penn graduate remarked that he is celebrated “for eating all things pineapple”.
Hobbies and pets are another significant part of life for our new matriculants. A Colorado native is learning to play “Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in F# Minor” while another enjoys “laying in the grass with my cat”. We have those who sing to their plants and others who dabble in Arabic poetry or calligraphy. Another personally handmakes any special occasion card when sending such to people. Aeromodeling. Studying Chinese philosophy. Visiting cat cafes. The list of novel hobbies goes on and on. One incoming student has owned more than 10 pets at one time. A 15 (!)-pound chihuahua owner’s hobbies include cat walking. Another recently adopted a cat “from a shelter in St. Louis!” One loves all kinds of birds and owned a parakeet that loved Beethoven but “hated me studying for the MCAT”. The term one student uses for watching her two dachshunds and feline: “gremlin sitting”.
Sports pastimes revealed fortune tellers—”I successfully predicted the last four World Cup winners”—to players of Spikeball and those who practice “Wing Chun” martial arts. One claimed to play on a soccer team with Matt Damon’s nephew. He added, Mr. Damon came to a couple of games, “so I can say I’ve been cheered for by Matt Damon”. Well, maybe you can say that. Running (late)—is that a sport? It was mentioned in this category by one. A ballroom dancer who has performed in professional theatre in California and New York graces the class, as does a future MD who can “run a 5 minute 15 second chocolate milk mile”. We have a former pre-Olympic gymnast, and others who have either (i) completed five marathons or (ii) completed two full length Ironman triathlons. Our final “athlete” shared that he sends “extremely long texts”.
Here, there were some commonalities, and the words reminded us of those we had met in interviews and at Second Look. We read: “Optimistic-Curious-Determined-Adventurous-Energetic-Resilient-Genuine-Humble” themes across the class. Of course, there were a few outliers. One noted that he is a contrarian, noting his love of ice cream and of chocolate, but his dislike of chocolate-flavored ice cream. Mmm. Another creative addition: “Mango-lover” (one word?) was the revealing descriptor from another M1.
Why WashU? and “If I had to declare my residency field today”
One student said that WashU earned “bonus points” for being halfway between their hometown and their college (undergraduate) town. Another confessed her attraction, a bit distant from the strength of our educational program: “Proximity to the St. Louis Cardinals”. Another was very attracted by the EXPLORE component of the Gateway Curriculum noting it “gives him space to immerse in medical innovation”. Beyond the pull of the School of Medicine’s strengths, one new student could not deny that he is “looking forward to attending St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performances”. We were heartened by the words of more than one student, commenting on the collaborative environment and “supportive and inspiring people” they found here. Students also shared thoughts on where they may specialize in the future. Some had a specific path in mind—e.g., a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in pediatric critical care. Of course, many students indicated they are approaching this decision with great openness to many possibilities. For example, a student who may write comedy on the side declared a future specialty of “Neurology, but I am trying to keep my mind open”.