Mat Lewis '19


Your Name: Mathew Lewis 

Graduation Year: 2019

Major: Biology

Your Story: Hey Gusties! I grew up in Kearney, Nebraska. I attended boarding school at Shattuck St. Mary’s and decided to attend Gustavus after taking a two year break playing hockey in Canada. I had an interest in science coming into college and wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. I enrolled in chemistry and biology classes and ended up pursuing a biology major along with doing research through the biology department. 

During my second year, the January Interim term course ‘Life transitions and vocation’ forced me to reflect on what I wanted to pursue in healthcare and the way in which I want to help patients. Medicine seemed to offer everything I was looking for in a healthcare profession, so I focused on building my medical school application and figuring out the type of physician I wanted to be. I started shadowing doctors, working healthcare jobs, and volunteering. These experiences were important for building a competitive application, but I think they were even more important for understanding myself, how I want to interact with patients, how I want to collaborate with fellow healthcare workers, and ultimately the specialty and environment I want to work in. All of the extracurriculars I participated in helped me start defining the type of physician I wanted to be, and I’m grateful for all of the good and the (few) bad experiences I had throughout undergrad.

After graduating in 2019 I began working as a CNA on a Ortho Med/Surg unit at a hospital in Omaha. Being a CNA is far from glamorous and I’ve questioned myself for choosing this as a gap year experience. However, I’m very thankful for what it has taught me about the type of physician I want to become.

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

1. Elders Program coordinator and volunteer

2. Mentoring Program VP of recruitment

3. Lab Assistant at an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic

4. Mitophagy Research at Gustavus

5. Medical Assistant at oncology clinic


1. Reflect on all of your experiences… it really does matter. I was told multiple times to reflect on my extracurricular activities, and of course, I didn’t really listen. Eventually, I got around to it when writing my personal statement, but I urge pre-med students to begin thinking of what you’re learning right away. Not only will it help with writing your personal statement, but with understanding who you are and WHY you want to be a physician. You have to commit a lot of time pursuing your medical school aspirations, and understanding your ‘why’ will be a huge motivating factor to get there.

2. Try new things. It took me a while (two years) to figure this one out. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone. Try things that interest you, go to the extracurricular fair and sign up for something you might like (even if you don’t have friends doing it also). You’ll meet wonderful people and going outside of your comfort zone will prepare you for all of the things that might make you uncomfortable in grad school and your health career.

3. Work your plan more than you plan your work. Pre-health students tend to be very type A. It’s easy to spend TONS of time planning the perfect extracurriculars, calculating projected GPA, and planning your life to a T. Narrow down what you need to do to get where you want to be and just give it your all, everyday. Everything works out for a reason, just don’t regret not putting your all into what you do.

Future Plans: In the fall of 2020 I will be attending Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. I am keeping my mind open to various specialties, though I am interested in orthopedic surgery and internal medicine.

Updated 5/27/2020