Mara Edison '13


Mara Photo

Name: Mara Edison

Graduating Class: 2013

Major: Biology

Your Story:

My name is Mara Edison, from Bismarck, ND. I finished classes at Gustavus in December 2012. I enjoy volunteering, working with the elderly, running, and refurbishing furniture from thrift stores and garage sales.

I chose Gustavus because I loved the atmosphere. I knew for myself that I would feel more comfortable in a smaller school and was impressed with the motivation of the students and high level of academics offered at Gustavus. I found the community to be incredibly supportive, whether it was through my experience in a student organization such as Queers and Allies, a club sport like Women’s Rugby, or within the Biology department. Gustavus really was a place where I could explore my interests and grow more than I ever imagined. I found a desire for leadership roles, thirst for knowledge and a passion for serving others in many areas.

My interest in pre-medicine started in high school with a position as a Certified Nursing Assistant at a skilled care facility. It exposed me to a wide variety of medical conditions and day-to-day care of those with ailing bodies. I found my job fulfilling, but I knew I had the ability to one day do more for people. I then took more challenging courses I knew would be helpful in pursuing pre-medicine in college, such as AP Bio and Anatomy. I continued taking pre-requisites at Gustavus and outlined the necessary coursework during my first semester, which was paramount in allowing me to complete my degree a semester early.

My most influential experience at Gustavus confirming pre-medicine path was in January 2012 when I travelled on a Service Learning trip to Peru. As a part of the health care team, I embarked into the community of Chimbote, Peru with local doctors and nurses for the only Hospice in the country. I saw the incredible need for medical care abroad and knew I wanted to continue serving others, as a physician, and I felt that I was on the right path toward fulfilling this goal.

My Class Schedule (click to view PDF)

Top Five Activities/Experiences:

J-term in Peru- I went into this trip with little expectations, and was open to experiencing things I did not imagine myself doing. I tried ceviche, a local treat of raw fish in lime juice, relied on my Spanish skills to travel the city with Hospice workers without a translator, and speaking openly with community members about differences between our countries.

Women’s Rugby-I played all four years and was captain for the last year. I love the team, and feel that as a club sport that was mostly student-led, this group was close and supportive.

Queers and Allies- Co-president for 2 years and member for 3. This group allowed me to learn from a wide variety of people, handle delicate situations and grow as a leader.

Elders Program- I find working with the elderly extremely fulfilling, and I enjoyed brightening their days with a game of Bingo or a simple craft, while chatting about their lives and memories.

Peer Mentoring- This allowed me to become more involved within the Biology and Chemistry departments and get a better grip of basic scientific principles in order to explain it in a manner that made it understandable to students. I also liked encouraging students to get involved and excited about science at Gustavus.


There will be moments when you feel like you are taking on too much, like you are unsure as to whether this is what you really want to do. I experienced it, as did my friends pursuing medicine. When you reach this point, it really helps to reach out to peers or advisors and talk it over. A pivotal moment for me was when I spoke with my advisor, Dr. Jeff Dahlseid. He emphasized the importance of creating a ‘meaningful life’ and that the path to our goal may not always be the shortest. It was helpful to take the pressure off of myself and allow myself to analyze my decisions up until this point and how to move forward. I had great conversations with roommates and friends and realized that it was ok to be uncertain at points, it did not mean failure.

I would also recommend job shadowing physicians early on. It helps to see the daily life of an actual physician and hear their advice and feedback. I also shadowed other professions in the medical field, including nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, etc. It was good for me to look into other options that were less of a commitment in terms of education, and I really felt that I found the right fit in pursuing a career as a physician.

Future Plans:

I am entering Western University College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-NW. I am also applying for the National Health Service Corps Scholarship, which would cover the cost of medical school in return for year-for-year service in a medically underserved community.




Updated 7/7/13 JMV