Three years ago I fulfilled a childhood dream when I signed a contract to play professional soccer for the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer (MLS). Yet, during my one season of playing professionally I realized that I was looking for a career that challenged, stimulated, and engaged me in a different way. I stumbled somewhat serendipitously upon medicine.
I grew up in Portland, OR, and sports have always been an integral part of my life. Even today, I love athletic competition as well as the opportunity to push myself physically. Many of the most important life lessons that I have learned—in discipline, teamwork, leadership, and confidence—have all come from the soccer field. Additionally, I had the opportunity to experience success as part of a team, having finished second in the nation while playing for Stanford University and completing the regular season at San Jose with the top record in MLS.
Despite enjoying the three-hour work days while playing for San Jose, I quickly realized important aspects in my job were missing. First, I missed being challenged intellectually as I had been as an undergraduate at Stanford. I studied Economics and was fascinated by the application of theoretical models to the real world. Second, I longed to play a different role in the world. During college, volunteer experiences with hospice, a local children's hospital, and the Special Olympics, convinced me that there is nothing more rewarding and fulfilling than caring entirely for another person. In addition to the intellectual challenge, this fulfillment was lacking in my profession in MLS. However, at the time I wasn't sure how I was going to make care giving a part of my life and work.
The tipping point in my story came mid-way through my year in San Jose when my best friend suggested I think about medicine. At the time I was growing more and more discontent with my current situation. My friend's suggestion was one of those "ah-hah!" moments. Coming from a family with no health care professionals, I had never given medicine a thought. Yet after reflecting on the experiences in my past that I had found most rewarding, I hung up my soccer cleats and have not looked back since. I enrolled in a post-bac program to complete the pre-med requirements and am now here at Rochester. In my first month here I have been amazed by the incredible individuals in my class. Daily, the talent and diversity remind me of why I chose Rochester.
Although I have stopped playing professionally, I hope to integrate my soccer knowledge and ability into my future profession as a physician. I am particularly interested in the role soccer can play in public health initiatives internationally. As the most popular sport in the world, soccer provides an excellent platform from which health care professionals can reach out to diverse populations and in particular the young people within those communities. Through the international opportunities that Rochester offers, I look forward to exploring the opportunity to unite soccer and health education overseas.