Michael Gutman '20


Name: Michael Gutman

Graduation Year: 2020

Major: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BMB), Minor in Spanish

Your Story: I grew up in Marshall, Minnesota, a small town in the heart of Southwestern Minnesota and about a 2-hour drive from St. Peter. My sister is a Gustavus alumnus, having graduated in 2005, so I visited campus quite frequently as a child. I also went to two speech camps at Gustavus in the summers before my junior and senior years of high school, so I became very familiar with the college and pictured myself as a student here. I knew I wanted to study science, but I also had other interests, like music and Spanish, so I looked for a school that would give me the opportunity to continue exploring all my passions while keeping science at the forefront. Gustavus allowed me to do exactly that – it even had an indoor tennis center where I could play tennis year-round!

During my time at Gustavus, I kept myself plenty busy, playing violin in the symphony orchestra and taking piano lessons, as well as playing tennis on school’s club tennis team. This allowed me to stay sane while having several science classes and labs every semester, a reality unavoidable as both a BMB major and pre-med student. My first clinical experience was not until the middle of my sophomore year, when I studied abroad in Santiago, Chile for three weeks in January to learn about the Chilean healthcare system. This was a very eye-opening experience, as Chile’s medical system operates quite differently from that of the United States. The next January, I shadowed several doctors in various specialties at the Mankato Clinic as part of the Pre-Health Career Exploration program, which further solidified my desire to pursue medicine as a career. I spent the January of my senior year participating in the Mayo Innovations Scholars Program, where I collaborated with business and fellow science students to a research a technological innovation funded by the Mayo Clinic. 

I first applied to medical school in the summer of 2019, after having taken the MCAT in January of that year. After a grueling application process, I was fortunate to have gotten an interview invitation at the University of North Dakota; however, I ended up on their waitlist and was unfortunately not accepted there. After some much-needed self-reflection, I decided to apply again the following year. While COVID-19 brought some obvious challenges, it ended up being somewhat of a blessing in disguise, as I am very glad to not have started school in the middle of a pandemic. Instead, I have been spending my gap year working as a medical scribe for a dermatologist in Albert Lea, Minnesota, and a contact tracer for COVID-19 through the Minnesota Department of Health on occasional weekends. I have enjoyed these jobs and will be sad to leave them come summer, but I am excited to be moving onto bigger and better things in the fall!

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

1: Gustavus Symphony Orchestra (GSO)

2: Gustavus Club Tennis Team 

3: Chemistry & Anatomy TA / Spanish Tutor 

4: January Interim Pre-Health Career Exploration

5: Mayo Innovations Scholars Program (MISP)


1: Get to know fellow classmates and faculty – Gustavus is a relatively small school, which means that class sizes are also quite small: in fact, I do not remember having a single class with more than 50 students. With that being said, it should not be too difficult to start building friendships with classmates and relationships with professors. I think this is incredibly important as future doctors, as we will be working alongside other providers and communicating with them, in addition to patients, on a regular basis. You will quickly realize that many of your classmates, especially ones that are also pre-health, will be some of the first people you go to if you are struggling, and chances are they may be struggling as well. The vast majority of professors at Gustavus are very approachable and they want to get to know you as both a student and a person!

2: Take advantage of J-Term opportunities – you have four J-Terms during your time as a Gustavus student, and I strongly encourage that you take full advantage of those four months. This is the time to become more familiar with the medical field, build upon your existing experiences, or step out of comfort zone by traveling abroad, all of which I did during my J-Terms and do not regret any of them in the least. Enjoy this time of not taking multiple science classes and labs, because you do not have that luxury during the fall and spring semesters! 

3: Do not be afraid to retake the MCAT and/or reapply – of course, it is not ideal, but there is no shame in needing to do this! As you have read, I did not get accepted my first time around, and to be honest, I questioned if medicine was the right fit for me. But I told myself that everything happens for a reason, and if it takes more than one attempt to reach my goals, then so be it. I strongly believe that the act of retaking/reapplying shows commitment and dedication. However, it is incredibly important that you take the time to strengthen your credentials before reapplying, as it will not do you much good to apply with the same exact application as the previous year. In retrospect, I am very glad to have taken a year off before starting medical school, as it has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. Hang in there!

Future Plans: I will be attending the University of Minnesota, Duluth Campus, starting in the fall of 2021! I am not yet sure what specialty, if any, I would like to pursue, so I am keeping my options open for the time being before making a definitive decision. I am incredibly excited to begin my journey towards becoming a physician!