Erica Power '18


Name: Erica Power, PhD 

Graduation Year: 2018

Major: Chemistry; Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Your Story: My college search had two things at the top of the list, a strong science program and women’s hockey. Fortunate enough for me, Gustavus had both of those and offered academic scholarships (an additional bonus!). I immediately started on the pre-med track, always intending to go to med school from the very beginning. However, my research experiences at Gustavus and at the Mayo Clinic shifted my intention on how I envisioned saving lives. Through biomedical research, I saw that I could impact a larger number of people while keeping engaged in the ever-changing world of scientific discovery. This led me to do my PhD at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School in Clinical and Translational Science. My PhD was focused on drug delivery to pediatric brain tumors, and I spent a lot of time with the pediatric neuro-oncology team in the clinic. I realized that it was the combination of medical advancement and building bonds with my patients and their families that brought me happiness and I decided to pursue a MD following my PhD. 

Top Five Activities/Experiences: (in no particular order)

1. Gustavus Women’s Hockey 

2. On-Campus Research with Dr. Laura Burrack

3. Mayo Clinic SLSP – Clinical Forensic and Toxicology Lab

4. PhD Research – Pediatric Brain Tumors, Dr. David Daniels 

5. High-School Hockey Coach 


1. The path to achieve your dreams is not usually linear… as a Type A person and someone most would consider “a planner”, I always had a plan and direction. Go to college, go to med school, get a job… all in a nice linear order. However, in real life, there will be detours and sharp rights (like deciding to do a PhD) or hard lefts (a global pandemic in the middle of that PhD), but without a winding journey, how can you appreciate the view at the top? 

2. Take classes that interest you outside of your major… for me, this was philosophy, but do not be afraid to explore a passion or interest outside of science (or whatever you are majoring in). I learned skills in my philosophy classes that have helped me not just in my continued academic endeavors but also in other aspects of my life like coaching high-school hockey. A well-rounded education leads to a well-rounded human-being. 

3. Trust in yourself… It’s super important to develop relationships with mentors, they can help you navigate your future, but ultimately, it’s your decision. This can be scary and intimidating, and you might just want someone – a mentor, a parent, a coach- to just tell you what to do but trust your gut instinct and trust that you know yourself and what you need to make you happy- not what the world tells us will make us happy.

Future Plans:

I will be attending Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, starting summer 2022. 

 Updated 3/28/2022 HB