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 2022
Each member of the Entering Class of 2022 shared special talents and hobbies, “something unique that few people know about me”, a word to describe themselves, and what drew them to WUSM in a “Facesbook” publication designed to aid them in getting to know their new classmates as orientation drew near. The self-reflections are difficult to summarize across 124 amazingly talented and diverse individuals, but here are some of its highlights which can be at times whimsical.
Hobbies revealed went far beyond hiking, traveling, reading, cooking, trying new foods and working out, though those were mentioned by many. Try “eating pizza” (we weren’t sure how “special” that was), scuba diving, playing cello and powerlifting (mentioned by the same well-rounded person), thrifting for antiques, learning a new language and performing a new style of dance. Sporting pastimes included rowing competitively, indoor rock climbing, pickle ball, broomball, ultimate Frisbee, kayaking, karting (a form of motorsport racing) and surfing (but “not very well”). One trained in dance for more than 18 years. Musical capacities from the class included a jazz pianist, a body beatboxer, and a snare drum marcher. Storytellers, oil painters, mushroom hunters, self-proclaimed tree huggers, Lego builders and craft beer connoisseurs came out of the woodwork. Then things got really interesting, as special talents go:
- “able to pick the correct size Tupperware for leftovers”
- “spend absurd amounts of money at coffee shops”
- “confocal microscopy”
- “making Ukrainian Easter eggs!”
- “getting lost at Trader Joe’s”
- “was a tour guide…and became an expert in walking backwards”
- “finding the best iced coffee in town”
- “love making homemade pasta with homegrown tomatoes and basil” (this future physician will soon be befriended by many in the class, we are sure).
The “something unique about myself” comments were particularly fun to read. The class will surely enrich each other with the stories that lie behind many of these disclosures. Among the new student doctors is a lucky one that “can find four leaf clovers anywhere”, another proficient in one-hand clapping, and one whose resume includes time as an Adventure Guide in the Department of Fun at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.
The incoming class features a student whose claim-to-fame is Wisconsin kindergarten chess champion, 2005. Checkmate. Another taught a college-level cell biology course to incarcerated individuals in a state of Utah prison. Yet another confessed that earning a driver’s license—at the age of 24—was his “unique” zenith at this point in time. And more:
- “My dog has over 20K TikTok followers”
- “Family comes from the oldest city in Ireland, established by the Vikings in 853!”
- “Avid fan of Frank Lloyd Wright”
- “Para glided through the Swiss Alps”
- “In college, dressed up as like Queen Elsa (Frozen) and visited kids in the local children’s hospital”
- “Have worked emergency mountain ski patrol”
- “I almost starred in a Welch’s white grape juice commercial as a kid”
- Named after the main character from a 1930s detective novel/film series
- Still has a baby tooth
- One—perhaps a future pediatrician or sleep medicine practitioner—confessed that he “checks under my bed every night for monsters”. Note: there are no monsters in St. Louis, so he should be fine.
One states that he never learned to ride a bike, and that it’s a “good story” (that assertion has yet to be confirmed). Another’s notoriety was playing wiffle ball once with the family that invented the wiffle ball in 1953. A boast that “my friends and I are on the leaderboards of every escape room in Providence, RI” appeared on one profile. We learned of vinyl collectors, cryptogram (sent by grandpa via snail mail) aficionados, and those who can cook expertly without measuring amounts. Several were former synchronized swimmers. Only one worked as an elevator operator at the Space Needle in Seattle for three summers.
The class includes a proud DIY-repair homeowner, a specialist in black-and-white film photography, and a California state speech and debate semi-finalist. One won a philanthropic poker tournament at UCLA, besting 150 people. Another can, somehow, “whistle and hum at the same time” (we will have to see that in action). Accomplished writers include one who has published poems under a pseudonym, a writer of two novels, another who accumulated half a million online readers from a novel created in high school and a future doctor who “did (their) senior thesis on modern rewritings of Shakespeare plays”.
We learned of a new student who has survived four concussions and of an accomplished mariner who has sailed the length of Lake Michigan twice. One was pleased to share that he is “one of the few people alive that have ever been in the reactor compartment of the USS Nautilus”. A touching story came from a new student who confessed that he desperately wanted a pet ferret as a child. How did this story turn out? “Despite multiple, very persuasive, and in-depth PowerPoint presentations, my parents never let me get one”.
The one word descriptors were somewhat consistent. We saw “curious, conscientious, or persistent” on several profiles; “caffeinated” and “foodie! got our attention.
Comments summarizing what drew them most to WUSM were heartfelt and well-articulated. Among them:
- “The PEOPLE!” and, similarly, “I liked everyone I met there”.
- “Drawn to the collaborative environment…loved how inclusive the program is to the different backgrounds and interests of the students”.
- “How humble and generous everyone I met was, from the faculty to the students, while working at such a groundbreaking institution”.
- “The location! The Midwest is my favorite region of the U.S.”
- “The EXPLORE component (of the Gateway Curriculum), particularly its advocacy/global health pathway”.
- Several cited a strong sense of community and one paraphrased Dean and Executive Vice Chancellor David Perlmutter’s comments at Second Look that “WUSM has one the highest talent-to-ego ratios”. This resonated with her as she “desires to learn in an environment with mentors who will set me up for success and alongside classmates that will lift me up”.
- “The red pandas at the St. Louis Zoo!”
- “As soon as my virtual tour guide said Forest Park was bigger than Central Park (in NYC), I was in”.