Ben Johnson-Tesch '12


Name: Ben Johnson-Tesch

Graduating Class: 2012

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

My Story:

My name is Ben Johnson-Tesch, and I graduated from Gustavus in 2012. I am now an MS1 (that is, first year medical student) at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. I grew up in Eden Prairie, where I attended Eden Prairie High School. In high school I took an advanced biology class in Anatomy and Physiology, and I fell in love with the topic, which opened me up to the awesomeness that is science and medicine. In my free time, I enjoy music, reading about science and philosophy, running, and experiencing life.

I chose Gustavus:

My story for choosing Gustavus is atypical. The first time I was on campus was during my junior year of high school; I was on the Eden Prairie Tennis team and the section tournament was held in the bubble here on campus. I really liked the feel of the campus (especially, I loved the caf), and this prompted me to look at Gustavus in greater detail. In particular, I chose Gustavus because it would allow me to pursue my interest in science, as well as participate in music (I played trombone in the Gustavus Wind Orchestra). At a larger university, it is very difficult to be involved in music if you are not a major, so Gustavus was a great fit for me.

My interest in pre-medicine started my junior year of high school. As was mentioned above, I took Anatomy/Physiology, which was a transformative experience for me because it was the first time that I fell in love with a topic. Simultaneous to this new academic experience, my sister was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, which was a dramatic adjustment for my family. Thanks to a wonderful anatomy/physiology teacher, I realized that my love for this new science topic could be naturally extended into a medical field. In this class, we had the opportunity to go to the U of MN and use (yes, they let us USE) the multi-million dollar Da Vinci surgical robot, witness a surgery, and learn how to suture pig tissues. I met physicians who were excited to share their profession with curious young minds, and this inspired me to look into the field further in the years that followed.

My most influential experiences at Gustavus confirming pre-medicine path:

Two things helped me figure out that medicine was for me.

  • In January of my junior year, I did a career exploration at River's Edge Hospital where I had the opportunity to shadow ER doctors, family practice doctors, surgeons (I got to watch many different surgeries), and a variety of other healthcare professionals. This was a 4 week experience that required me to be in the hospital for 8 hours a day. Everyday, I woke up and went to the hospital excited to experience the medicine. If you can consistently wake up everyday excited to do something, you know you have stumbled on something special. For me, I knew medicine was right for me.
  • I absolutely loved my science classes at Gustavus. All of them. But what I loved most was learning how these sciences relate to medicine and the medical sciences. You may not realize this now (I am talking to all pre-medicine students), but every class you take at Gustavus will help you succeed in medicine. Believe it or not, you need to know general chemistry, organic chemistry, cell and molecular biology, physical chemistry, and all of the other science classes to be an effective medical doctor. If you don't believe me, drop me an email and I will give you specific examples. I digress, I love science and medicine is science (it is also an art).

Top Five Activities/Experiences:

  • Gustavus Symphony and Wind Orchestra- I played trombone in the GWO, and it provided my life with balance, and I got to travel the world (Eastern Europe, Florida) with some pretty amazing people.
  • Summer Research- I got to participate in two summers of research. I learned to think like a scientific investigator, and I got to present my research in Washington, DC at the Experimental Biology 2011 Conference. I think every science student at Gustavus should do research; it teaches you how to think, and you will learn a lot about yourself in the process.
  • Peer Mentor/Tutor- Being a peer mentor and tutor was so much fun and so rewarding for me. It was a great way to give back to my academic community.
  • Career Exploration and Shadowing- Doing a career exploration during J-Term of my junior year was a great way to explore medicine. In addition, I had the opportunity to see some amazing things: gastrointestinal surgeries, cataract surgeries, intense ER experiences, intriguing pathology lab tests, and general practice experiences that made me re-examine my world view. Great experience overall.
  • Friends- Make friends and enjoy all the time you have with them at Gustavus. I have so many memories that I will remember forever.

My Class Schedule (click to view PDF)



I will outline 3 things below, but if you have any questions, I encourage you to ask.

  • Are you sure you want to be a physician? Why do you want to be a physician? What do you love to do? What sort of lifestyle do you want to live? What makes you happy? What are your long-term goals outside of your career (i.e. family life)? These are the questions you want to ask yourself right away. Always be thinking about what you want out of a career, but also what you want out of life. I know many people that started out pre-medicine, but decided to pursue a different path not because they were not smart enough (they were brilliant people who did extremely well in college), but because these students could fulfill their life goals better in another career. Always be self-reflective and know yourself. This is essential.
  • You know this already, but getting into medical school is not easy...but it is not impossible! Make sure you plan out your academic schedule so that you can get all of the medical school pre-requisites completed before you graduate Gustavus.
  • Have fun! Science is fun, and have fun with it. Remember that the friends you make at Gustavus will be your best memories, so don't let your pursuit of medical school run your life. If you plan accordingly, you can maximize your college experience. Medical Schools look for students with many qualities outside of academics and MCAT scores (although, these are extremely important). Get involved with music, a sport, a club, or something else that you really love to do. Also, read about medicine and science in your free-time; get to know your future career.

Future Plans:

I now attend (starting August 2012) the University of Minnesota Medical School (Twin Cities Campus). I am an MS1 (med student lingo for first-year students), and I have interests in Internal Medicine (Cardiology subspecialty). However, this will probably change over the next four years as I learn an overwhelming amount about myself and medicine in medical school.




Updated 10/19/2012 JMV