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Aleeya Thornton
March 27, 2023

Campus Job Offers Pre-Med Student Valuable Experience on the Road to Medical School

Aleeya Thornton ’23 is a determined cell biology student who decided in high school she wanted to be a doctor. With this goal in mind, she pursued work positions at Berry’s health center. Though she started out checking in patients and cleaning rooms, Aleeya moved up to responsibilities like taking vitals and talking with patients. Now, as the assistant student director, she runs staff meetings for 13 student workers, implements their training and builds the shift schedules.

These experiences have prepared her in ways she never expected. “This job opportunity taught me so much and strengthened my communication skills,” Aleeya says. “I learned how to navigate difficult conversations within my future medical practice. I also learned how to build a strong team dynamic, which is especially important for a future in health care.”

Health Center Director Lauren Wehunt adds, “Aleeya is learning much more than medical skills. She’s pushed to critically think, and these experiences are preparing her for another side of medicine. She’s learning the leadership skills required to lead a practice and communicate clearly with patients.”

Along with the impact of her work supervisor, Aleeya expresses gratitude for Berry’s alumni network: “I really connected with a neurosurgeon in Rome, Georgia, who also graduated from Berry, at an alumni event. Having no physicians in my family, it was helpful to feel associated with people who knew the medical field.”

Aleeya faces a busy year after graduation. She is scheduled to take the MCAT and will serve as a patient care tech at a hospital while applying to medical school. “The average age of a beginning medical student is 25, and I did not want to rush my college experience,” she says. “I wanted to finish my career as a college softball player and give myself time to study for the MCAT.”

The scholar-athlete has this advice for students interested in a medical career: “It took time, but Berry helped me step out of my comfort zone. Early on, it was easy for me to shut myself up in my room under the weight of the busyness. Then, I learned to take advantage of the number of opportunities available. I encourage pre-med students to ask as many questions as possible, and remember, when you struggle or hit a brick wall, do not give up! You are building resilience.”

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