Katherine “Katie” Wee
Dartmouth College ’19
Dartmouth Health Care Foundations ’18
Eric Eichler ’57 Fellow ’19
I first met Katie when she came to the Dartmouth Health Care Foundations week in July 2018. Her warmth and compassion, combined with a desire to make a positive impact in the world, made her an excellent candidate for The Eric Eichler ’57 Fellowship for Health Care Leaders, a year long-fellowship for future leaders in healthcare. She recently wrote to me, and the influence of Foundations and the Fellowship are alive and well in her as can be seen by her thriving as a novice outside of school, taking on new challenges without fear, and taking time to be thoughtful about her next steps to ensure she arrives at her destination with her whole self intact. Here is what Katie wrote:
The transition from college to “adulting” can be a very sudden transition. For me, I don’t know if the classes I’ve taken or the seminars I’ve attended necessarily prepared me for the real world, like managing finances/investments or cooking nutritious meals (the college dining hall is a blessing!). To be honest, it was a daunting thought during senior spring to imagine how I could navigate these unfamiliarities, but at least the tuition paid at Dartmouth didn’t go to waste! Day by day, I’ve been realizing that college has taught me skills that I’m finding very helpful: how to utilize my curiosity and hunger to learn, the concept of passion over perfection (of course you want to achieve both!), resiliency, and much more.
I’m still figuring out my life, and I’ve learned to be okay with that. I’d prefer to take the non-traditional path that satisfies/fulfills my soul than to feel pressured by a more traditional route that inhibits my creativity and joy. I’m not saying that one is generally better than the other, but I’m trying to make sure that I dictate the direction of my life rather than be strung along by societal or cultural influences.
My current post-graduate life first involves studying for the MCAT. I do dream of becoming a doctor, but I hope to spend this gap year to wrestle this dream – addressing the big WHY question. In the meantime, I wanted to lead an active life, so I decided to start studying for the MCAT ahead of time. This way, I can re-establish my science foundations over the summer and have the time to process some personal things after the whirlwind of college. Thankfully, studying the MCAT has been pretty manageable, and yes… sometimes I do wonder why certain topics are appealing now! I do wish I pushed myself to focus on my pre-med classes, but at the end of the day, I can’t change history and I have to move on!
With summer at hand, I decided to challenge myself to learn something new. My personality is one where I develop passions/interests quickly, but often find myself lacking the discipline to follow some things through. And so, I find myself in retirement mode – learning how to play golf, and wow! I forgot how difficult learning something new can be! All the patience and perseverance… Through this journey, I’ve learned how I enjoy doing things I’m best at because confidence was a major motivation. I’m also learning to push my limits and keep working hard at something that can be discouraging and makes me feel like a total novice.
Speaking of patience, LA traffic is a nightmare. To drive ~20 miles, it takes about an hour. In Hanover, that would’ve been a different story! This drive takes place a couple times a week because I’ve been shadowing at a teaching hospital focused on reaching the medically underserved community. So far, the experience has been incredible. I’ve been in the NICU, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, and Pediatric Cardiology units. Surprisingly, all the doctors (attending, fellows, residents, MS students, nurses, technicians, etc.) have been willing to take the time to teach and advise/counsel me. One attending has even gone the extra mile to provide career counseling for 2 hours!! This experience has made me more motivated to become a doctor, even if my statistics make it seem impossible. Life is short, so I think I’ll give it a shot.
In the midst of all these moving parts, I’m in the process of exploring and establishing my identity. My self-concept and self-identity has gone on an intense roller-coaster ride, and I’m looking for some grounding. It is a lifelong journey, but I think it’s time that I spend time to reflect and know myself. What are my values, dreams, passions, and experiences? How did I become the person I am today? Questions like these help me learn more about myself.
Community has always been an important component of my life. While I do have family immediately by my side now, I would be lying if I didn’t say I was struggling to find community. Building relationships and friendships take time, and thankfully I have been fortunate to have been actively “pursued” by the young adults ministry at church. It was nice to see that there were people out there who genuinely wanted to get to know me and would try to include me into their circles. We are an eclectic group from all backgrounds and stages of life, and for an extrovert like me, it energizes and makes my week even brighter.
What are the next steps of my career? As of October, I will have job as an EMT at a 9-1-1 ambulance company. I’m super excited to be able to start working and training at this company. During the interview process, they made it clear that they value their employees and really invest all their resources and time. This can be seen in how their employees respect the company and how the public perceives this emergency organization. Once I start working, I will share more details, but for now, this is all I have.
- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
- When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales from Neurosurgery by Frank Vertosick Jr., MD
- Richard Kogan MD on Music and Medicine: Chopin and the Power of Resilience
- I would highly recommend listening/reading one of his works! I was first introduced to him during research for my thesis, but now I will get the opportunity to meet him in person when he gives his talk this Thursday!