Students accepted into top health programs

The staff and faculty with Cornell College’s Dimensions Program for Health Professions are all smiles as they continue to hear the good news that many students have been accepted into top-tier graduate programs.

“It’s really neat to see them take the next step in their education,” said Dimensions Associate Director Mark Kendall. “I know they are going to contribute meaningfully to their chosen professions.”

Mark Kendall works with a student
Mark Kendall, associate director of the Dimensions Program for Health Professions, meets informally with a student in Russell Science Center.

Dimensions is part of the Berry Career Institute and specifically focuses on supporting students interested in healthcare careers, which could be anything from medicine to physical therapy or veterinary medicine and public health. The staff plans career exploration trips to medical centers, assists students with finding internships or research opportunities, holds programming to educate students about applying to graduate school, and much more.

“We also have the Health Professions Committee which helps students get into professional programs,” Kendall said.

“Our acceptance rate is a little above 75%, compared to the 40% national average. We will thoroughly vet a student’s application to make sure they are submitting the most polished application.” 

The committee not only catches typos and grammatical errors, but they examine the bigger picture to see if the student is truly representing themselves to their full potential.

“We get to know our students really well at Cornell College,” Kendall said. “We have class with them, we see them year after year. We start to know what makes them tick, what they care about, what their values are, what they want to do with their lives. Sometimes we ask them to rewrite things because we ask them, why aren’t you talking about this aspect of your life?”

While the committee, made up of faculty and staff, combs through each application, Kendall is the first to admit that the committee isn’t the biggest reason for their successes.

“Our students are just a really dedicated, hardworking, intelligent, thoughtful, conscientious group,” Kendall said. “They come to Cornell with a purpose, with a reason. They get to know their professors really well, which helps motivate them and strive for bettering themselves in class. They become very efficient and are able to tackle lots of tasks. I think the block plan really helps with that.”

Here are just a few examples of students who have received news about acceptance into programs to further their healthcare careers. The Dimensions Program also helps alumni with their applications after graduation.

Graduate School Outcomes:

Med school: 

  • Alicia Phillips ’20 (University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine)
  • Chase Barnwell ’13 (A.T. Still University, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri)

Physical Therapy school: 

Physician Assistant school: 

  • Jen Davis ’18 (Northwestern College in Iowa)

Pharmacy school: 

Veterinary school: 

  • Julia Eastham ’18 (University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine)

Penny (Yin) Peng to attend physical therapy school at Emory University

Penny (Yin) Peng
Penny (Yin) Peng

Peng, a biochemistry and molecular biology major with a psychology minor, will attend physical therapy school at Emory University this summer. 

After getting offers from eight different schools, including Columbia University, the University of North Carolina, and Boston University, she chose Emory because of its dual degree program that awards a doctorate in physical therapy from the Emory School of Medicine as well as a Ph.D. in applied physiology from the Georgia Tech School of Biological Sciences. 

Peng says since her first year on Cornell’s campus, the Dimensions Program has provided programming and guidance. Plus, the Health Professions Committee played a big part in her application process.

“I worked on my personal statement with my academic advisor who is also one of the Health Professions Committee advisors, Dr. Craig Tepper,” Peng said. “He met with me on Zoom during the summer and gave me abundant editing suggestions. The Health Professions Committee looked through my application materials and provided me with a lot of helpful feedback.” 

Peng came to Cornell from Guangzhou, China, and has participated in research with psychology faculty and has completed a fellowship at the Children’s Hospital Colorado in her time on the Hilltop.

“The block plan has trained me to adjust to different classes and tight schedules in a short amount of time,” Peng said. “It allows almost no room for procrastination which pushed me to be more efficient in finishing assignments. The biochemistry and molecular biology major allows me to understand the human body all the way down to the cell and molecular level and to have enormous lab experience in basic science. My psychology minor allows me to realize the importance of the biopsychosocial model in the field of healthcare.”

Now, she’s excited to meet new people and live in a new city. She says she’s ready to take her next steps toward realizing her dream career of becoming a professor in physical therapy who also conducts research and does clinical work.

Allison Eikenberry moves on to No. 1 pharmacy school: 

Allison Eikenberry
Allison Eikenberry

Eikenberry, a double major in chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology, was accepted into seven pharmacy schools, including the school she’ll be attending in the fall–Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina. The program is ranked as the best pharmacy school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

“The Health Professions Committee pushed me to dream bigger and apply to the highest-ranked schools I was interested in,” Eikenberry said. “Even though I was already applying to many of the top 10 and top 20 schools, they pushed me to aim higher. They saw potential in me and pushed me to apply to schools I hadn’t even considered. I wouldn’t have even applied to North Carolina if the committee member, Craig Tepper, hadn’t sat me down and helped me realize that I shouldn’t close the door to North Carolina before even peeking inside.”

She’s looking forward to learning from the best and being surrounded by students who are motivated to learn, just like her. She said her education at Cornell has prepared her for pharmacy school and notes that when she took the Pharmacy College Admission Test she felt prepared based on what she learned in class. The pace of the block plan, taking One Course At A Time, was also part of her success.

“There is a high bar set in the chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology departments at Cornell, and professors work just as hard as students to help everyone reach that bar,” Eikenberry said. “Cornell was the perfect place for me, someone who wants to actively take part in my education, to thrive. The close-knit community and opportunities to directly interact with my professors have been essential to my educational experience here.”

Eikenberry is interested in possibly working at a hospital pharmacy where she can be part of her patients’ care teams or exploring the pharmaceutical industry where she can get involved with the process of drug discovery. She’s passionate about making a difference in people’s lives.

“I am also a Native American and have lived in rural communities my whole life, and through my interest in pharmacy, I have learned that there are many healthcare disparities faced by people in rural communities and Native American communities,” Eikenberry said. “I don’t yet know where exactly I want to live and work, but I would definitely be open to serving an underserved rural or Native American population.”

Lexi Woywod moves on to physical therapy program at Duke:

Lexi Woywod
Lexi Woywod

Woywod, a kinesiology-exercise science major, will enroll in Duke University’s doctor of physical therapy program next year. 

“Right now, a few of my goals for the future are specializing in neurology or becoming a travel physical therapist,” Woywod said. “After working as a physical therapist for a while, I would love to become a professor in a doctor of physical therapy program or if I could, come back and teach in the kinesiology department at Cornell.”

She’s excited to start making progress toward her dream career after the work she put into her application and her studies at Cornell. She says the Health Professions Committee helped her understand how to write a strong personal statement, essays, and descriptions of her experience.

“They really care about helping students get into their desired programs, and you can tell by how much time and effort goes into the review of your application,” Woywod said. “They also helped me prepare for the interview portion of the application process by going through a mock interview with me!”

Woywod says Cornell helped build her work ethic and provided numerous opportunities to explore her passions. She has participated in the Cornell Summer Research Institute and fulfilled an internship at a physical therapy clinic. She also worked as a sports medicine assistant in the athletic training room at Cornell, which helped her increase her confidence and experience working in a fast-paced environment.

“Having the opportunity to attend Duke University is an absolute dream come true, and I would not be here without all of the support from everyone who helped me along the way,” Woywod said. “Cornell provided an environment with a supportive community and endless opportunities that helped me achieve my goals!”