Torben Urdahl '21

Name: Torben Urdahl

Graduation Year: 2021

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) and Chemistry

Your Story: When I began my college experience at Gustavus four years ago, all I knew is that I had a great interest in medicine. However, I was not yet confident enough to say that I had fully committed myself to pursue a career in medicine. Gustavus was the perfect place for me to continue exploring my interest in medicine along with receiving an excellent education in the sciences. I was challenged academically every step of the way and further developed my understanding of professionalism. 

Despite the numerous science classes at Gustavus confirming my intellectual interest in the scientific foundations of medicine, I had not yet been exposed to enough clinical medicine to warrant spending countless hours preparing for the MCAT and writing application essays. This is where the January Interim Pre-Health Career Exploration program came in. I had first heard about it during one of my visit days as a high school senior, and I knew that it was something that I wanted to apply for. When the time came to apply (early in the fall of my sophomore year), I put together the best application that I could. I was fortunate enough to have been selected to participate at the Mankato Clinic, and I can say that it was the most inspiring and motivating experience of my journey to date. Getting to observe a vast number of medical specialties ranging from ophthalmology to podiatry to radiology allowed to me realize that I wanted nothing else other than to become a physician. 

I also had been hired as a resident care assistant at a memory care facility in Eagan, MN the summer following my sophomore year. The hands-on experience that I have gained working in that position for the past two summers continues to motivate me in the pursuit of my MD. I would highly recommend working with an underserved population, like memory care patients, since it will open your eyes to the difference you can make in the lives of your patients. Beyond the classroom at Gustavus, I was on the baseball team for four years. I am so thankful for that opportunity to develop long-lasting friendships and to develop essential team-based skills. I was also involved with the Gustavus Fly Fishing Club for three years (two of those years on the leadership team as Vice President). For anyone with a love of the outdoors, conservation, and fishing, I would highly recommend the Fly Fishing Club! Finally, I was a member of the Student Athlete Volunteer Educators (SAVE) executive board, which is a student-athlete group focused on helping first-year athletes with the transition to college life. All in all, my experiences at Gustavus have been unforgettable. I know that Gustavus has prepared me very well to continue my education with medical school, residency, and beyond!

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

1: Resident Care Assistant at a Memory Care Facility

2: Gustavus Baseball Team

3: January Interim Pre-Health Career Exploration at the Mankato Clinic

4: Gustavus Fly Fishing Club

5: Student Athlete Volunteer Educators (SAVE)


1: Try to form personal relationships with your professors! Gustavus is a small campus, and the faculty members really want to get to know you beyond the classroom. This not only will help you to be more successful during your classes each semester, but you will form long-term relationships with great mentors that always have your best interests in mind. I’m so thankful to have created personal relationships with some faculty members during my time here at Gustavus, and I look forward to keeping in touch with them going forward!

2: Become involved in a student organization outside of academics. I have always had a love of the outdoors and a passion for fishing, but I never even thought to keep my eyes and ears open for any classes or clubs pertaining to the outdoors or fishing. Luckily for me, a good friend of mine discovered that “MN Aquatic Stewardship” was offered as a j-term course. This class was centered around environmental conservation and fly fishing. This led me to join the Gustavus Fly Fishing Club, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Make sure to attend the involvement fair and find the student-run club that fits your interests outside of the classroom!

3: Take everything one step at a time. No matter what your pre-health profession is, whether it’s pre-med, pre-dental, etc., the process to becoming accepted at a graduate program is long. It is very easy to become overwhelmed thinking about all of it at once. For pre-med students, plan out at the beginning of college when you will take the MCAT and which AMCAS application cycle you’ll be a part of. This will help you to avoid an overwhelming scenario where you’re writing your personal statement at the same time as studying for the MCAT. 

Future Plans: I will be attending the University of Minnesota Medical School – Twin Cities beginning in the fall of 2021. I am very excited to begin my medical education, and I am looking forward to all of the clinical research opportunities available to students. I am also looking forward to all of the volunteer opportunities at the U such as the student-run Phillips Neighborhood Clinic! I consider myself to be undecided in terms of choosing a specialty, but I am very interested in orthopedic surgery, ENT, and general surgery.