Known for strong programs in numerous career areas — technology, art and design, education, human and social sciences, and management — University of Wisconsin-Stout has become a choice of students focused on another high-demand field.
For the past 15 years the university has been turning out graduates who are succeeding across a broad spectrum of careers in health care, including many as doctors.
What’s the secret to attending UW-Stout and becoming a doctor, dentist or pharmacist, to name a few options? The applied science program, the applied biochemistry and molecular biology program and other programs have core classes that prepare students to enter graduate school professional programs.
A case in point is Trever Koester, an applied science graduate who had his eye on medical school all along. He took the MCAT — medical college admission test — after graduating in May 2018, scored in the 99th percentile and began applying to medical schools.
One of the schools that accepted him was at the top of his list — Harvard.
“It was pretty unbelievable,” he said, recalling receiving the Harvard acceptance email March 1, 2019. “It’s a very tough process even to apply, and the rejection rate is so high.”
For example, the 2022 Harvard Medical School graduating class a year ahead of him has 165 students out of more than 6,900 who applied.
In early August 2019, the Somerset native began classes at the Harvard medical campus in Boston — separate from the main campus in nearby Cambridge, Mass., ready to tackle four years at one of the world’s best-known schools, followed by four to five years of a residency.
The first semester went well. “I feel like I had a good background going in because of my Stout education, so I’m appreciative of that. I was able to breeze through the first block of instruction,” Koester said, noting he loves the curriculum, the school and the diversity of his classmates who are “from all over the world.”
“Choosing Stout was one of the best decisions I ever made. The university did a phenomenal job preparing me for the MCAT,” said Koester, who graduated in three years with a 4.0 grade-point average.
He appreciated the small class sizes, research opportunities and professors “who really care about their students” as highlights of his UW-Stout experience. He also cited UW-Stout’s affordability, a factor considering the high cost of medical school.
After graduating from UW-Stout, Koester was a clinical research coordinator from summer 2018 to summer 2019 at Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. He helped research a rare pediatric hip disease, an experience he believes set him apart from other Harvard applicants, and had opportunities to meet with children and families affected by the disease.
Crediting good medical care for overcoming several adolescent health issues, Koester is inspired to become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. “You can make a big difference in people’s lives,” he said.
Multiple success stories
While Koester appears destined for success, other graduates already have found it. More than 100 alumni of the applied science program alone have gone on to practice since 2004 as doctors, dentists, pharmacists, chiropractors, physician assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists and in other health-care positions, according to UW-Stout’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management.
Desiree Scholl graduated from UW-Stout in 2004 and then in 2008 from Rosalind Franklin University medical school in Chicago. A podiatrist at Western Wisconsin Health in Baldwin, she is board certified in foot and ankle surgery.
At UW-Stout, she appreciated professors “who truly care and were a big part of helping me learn to go beyond the classroom. Well-rounded, challenging curriculum, as well as having instructors willing to assist with test prep in areas I felt I needed a little extra push with, prepared me well for the MCAT. I felt completely prepared to start medical school,” she said.
Last fall, she returned to campus to conduct a suture workshop with students.
Kym Ludwig graduated in May 2019 from the University of Wisconsin pharmacy school in Madison and in July began a residency at Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz. She hopes to eventually work for the Indian Health Center as a community provider to “give back to Native American communities” and to do research on chronic disease management.
A 2013 UW-Stout graduate, she also earned a certificate in American Indian Studies from North Dakota State University in 2018.
“I always felt that UW-Stout professors and mentors cared about my success not only during college but after college as well, and that could be attributed to the fact that they were able to spend ample time with me as an individual,” said Ludwig, who cited the university’s many resources, such as Multicultural Student Services.
Wade Trzebiatowski graduated from UW-Stout in 2010 and then from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 2014. He founded Elevate Life Chiropractic in his hometown of Stevens Point.
He started in the business administration program but switched to applied science after realizing his career calling. “UW-Stout had everything I needed to advance to graduate school,” Trzebiatowski said. “Having access to advanced technology within the labs challenged me to explore and challenge myself.”
Another May 2019 graduate, Joshua Freyholtz, is beginning the Surgical First Assistant program at Mayo College of Health and Sciences in Rochester, Minn., with an eye on eventually becoming a physician assistant. “The applied science program was able to set me up for success,” Freyholtz said.
Maggie Freiermuth, a December graduate in applied biochemistry and molecular biology, has her eye on medical school with the hope of becoming an emergency room physician. Read more about her here.
Trever Koester conducted research at Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul prior to entering Harvard Medical School.
Alumna Dr. Desiree Scholl, a podiatrist, guides UW-Stout students in a suture workshop last fall.