Meagan Nowariak '19


Name: Meagan Nowariak 

Graduation Year: 2019

Major: Biology

Your Story: Hi! My name is Meagan and I graduated from Gustavus in 2019 with a Biology major and Religion minor. I’m originally from Owatonna, MN, but I now live in Minneapolis. I decided to attend Gustavus due to the small class sizes, opportunities for extracurricular activities, and the deep sense of community I felt on the Hill.

At Gustavus, I was involved in TriBeta, Gustie Buddies, cell biology research, and Chapel Choir. In addition, I worked at Gustavus Health Service and in the chemistry stockroom, both of which I enjoyed immensely. Also, for me it was important to venture down from the Hill every once in a while, so I also volunteered at the St. Peter Community Center as a volunteer coach for the Girls on the Run program and at the Mankato Emergency Department. I also earned a religion minor while at GAC, which not only made me stand out as a medical school applicant, but was a great opportunity to learn about more than hard science. 

My interest in medicine was first sparked during a summer job at the Mayo Clinic in high school. In this experience, I was exposed to many areas of the hospital and had the opportunity to talk with patients throughout the day. Due to this experience and my interest in science, when I started at Gustavus, I knew I wanted to be involved in medicine one way or another, whether as a physician, physician assistant (PA), or medical researcher. 

My interest in medicine was solidified during my January Interim Career Exploration Pre-Health shadowing experience at Hennepin County Medical Center. After shadowing and talking with many healthcare professionals in a variety of different specialties, I decided that pursuing a career as a physician was the best fit for me. In addition, while I love and will continue to be involved in research in the future, after a summer experience at the University of Minnesota and conducting cell bio research at Gustavus, I discovered that I wanted to have a career with more direct patient contact. 

After graduating from Gustavus, I moved to Minneaplis to work as a research associate at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. In this position, I had the opportunity to work with healthcare providers on a daily basis doing cardiovascular research. Additionally, it was a great opportunity to gain experience and work on research that was presented at national conferences and published in medical journals. 

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

1. January Interim Pre-Health Career Exploration Shadowing program at the HCMC
2. Summer cardiology research at the University of Minnesota
3. Working at Gustavus Health Service 
4. Gustavus Chapel Choir
5. Working on cardiovascular research at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation after graduation


1. Seek out opportunities (even if you have to leave the Hill!). Don’t wait for opportunities to find you. If you want to get involved in research, ask your professors (one of the perks of being at Gustavus is how open and invested the profs are here!) and look at applying to outside opportunities as well. For volunteer experiences, look at the St. Peter and Mankato community in addition to Gustavus.

2. The quality of your experiences matter. It’s much more meaningful to have a few long term experiences you can talk passionately about, than a bunch of “resume builders”. I know we all have to have a few extracurriculars that “check off the boxes” but try to branch out and find other activities that will really make you stand out and show commitment. 

3. Study hard for the MCAT. I know… it sucks. I took an entire summer off to study full time for the MCAT, but I am so thankful I did. It’s a lot of studying and I couldn’t imagine fitting it into only a month or during any of my other classes. Create a study schedule and stick to it, you’ll appreciate it later!

Future Plans: I will be attending the University of Minnesota Medical School-Twin Cities in Fall 2020. While I still have broad interests in medicine, I am particularly interested in internal medicine and cardiology. 

Updated 4/5/2020 HB