Eric Medenblik ՚21 conducts research in prep for career in medicine
B.A in kinesiology with a double minor in chemistry and biology
Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.
What are your short and long-term plans after Cornell? After graduating from Cornell, I plan to enter medical school. I have dreams of entering the field of orthopedics and specializing in sports medicine. Immediately after graduation, I plan to return home and continue working as a volunteer EMT in Illinois and the Mount Vernon community. I hope to assist in coaching baseball and basketball at the youth level and gain employment in a hospital to continue to prepare myself for a career in medicine.
How has Cornell prepared you for your future? Cornell has prepared me for my future in so many ways. The One Course At A Time format has prepared me for medical school-style curriculum in which I can fully immerse myself in the concepts. I have had the privilege to be very involved on campus in the campus EMS, baseball, basketball, Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and Lunch Buddies. This variety has allowed me to grow in a multitude of ways; it improved my abilities in working with others in a team setting and taught me the value of effective communication strategies. I had the privilege of participating in an internship with the local ambulance service. I was able to see the inner workings of the healthcare system beyond the frontline care that we always envision. I have worked hard and learned a lot that will surely prepare me for a future in medicine.
Why do you think studying kinesiology, chemistry, and biology at Cornell is beneficial? Completing my major and minors at Cornell has allowed me to fully envelope myself in my courses. This allows me to learn the information more deeply and even see the interrelation between topics that are quite different.
Can you identify people you considered to be mentors at Cornell? I have had a lot of great mentors during my four years on campus. In particular, Director of Athletics and Head Baseball Coach Seth Wing, Professor of Kinesiology Christi Johnson, Professor of Biology Craig Tepper, and Associate Director of Dimensions of Health Professions Mark Kendall have been great mentors for me. They all have been very encouraging, helped me to see the potential I have even when I didn’t see it myself, allowed me to be more confident in myself, pushed me to work hard while still considering my physical and mental health, and taught me a lot about what it takes to become a successful student and adult.
What is the coolest topic you studied for an 18-day block? What made this block stand out to you? I have been lucky enough to study a lot of very interesting topics and it is incredibly hard to select one singular topic. My favorite concepts, however, are the exercise assessments and analyses that were used in biomechanics and exercise physiology. I enjoyed the complex interplay between physics, biological processes, and bodily motions that these projects illuminated and I really enjoyed learning how to optimize these kinesiological principles to maximize results while minimizing negative outcomes.
If you could share with your high school self some words of wisdom that you’ve learned since being at Cornell, what would it be? I have learned a lot at Cornell and over the last four years. Two things that I would share with my younger self would be to be confident in myself and to be willing to get outside of my comfort zone. I have seen that I am capable of more than I would have ever thought I was capable of during high school and trusting myself really allows me to reach lofty heights that I aspire to reach. Prior to Cornell, I lived in a small town and went to a small, private school. I never had to go out of my way to talk to new people or to have a conversation and over the years I have grown more comfortable in these situations, which has ultimately resulted in a much happier and better version of myself.
What’s something you learned about yourself during your time at Cornell? I learned about my strengths and weaknesses at Cornell. I learned that I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for, at times. I have always been very hard-working and I have really realized the great benefits and results that come with hard work during my time here.
What is your proudest accomplishment as a Cornellian? My proudest accomplishment is my completion of honors in the Kinesiology Department. This involves the development of a research topic, project development, data collection, and results interpretation. I decided to look into the assessment and potential prevention of ACL injuries and collected data on the topic. This really was a grand convergence of all I have learned and allowed me to go outside of my comfort zone by writing a paper and presenting the data on campus. I believe that this really exemplified my hard work and allowed me an opportunity to use what I have learned to apply to a topic that is of specific interest to me that I believe could have a grand impact on many individuals’ lives.
Was there anything you learned at Cornell that changed your perspective significantly? Over the past four years, there have been a lot of societal events that have triggered changes that may be more important than what I learned in the classroom. Personally, this has allowed me to have difficult conversations and attend discussions on relevant societal topics. This allowed me to learn more about the perspectives of others and become more culturally competent. In the end, I believe that this will allow me to become a better healthcare provider and be more understanding of different viewpoints in situations that matter.
What’s one thing you did during your time at Cornell that you never thought you’d do? I never would have predicted that I would conduct my own research project. The concept of research has always seemed so complex to me, both in terms of preparation and the conceptual topics. In the last couple of years, I have had multiple opportunities to conduct research and two in which I developed the research topic on my own or in a very small group. In retrospect, reaching this point to conduct an entire research project on my own and to present the project to my peers really shows the heights I can attain.
What is your favorite Cornell memory? My favorite memory from my time at Cornell came during my first year on campus. Some of my fellow basketball teammates and I opted for a late-night movie during block break. A lost wallet turned this night into a very long night of twists and turns into an all-night search and an early morning breakfast with friends. This night of sleep deprivation and fun formed a memory and bond that will last a lifetime amongst those of us that decided to go to a last-minute movie night.
What’s something about Cornell that makes you smile? The people of Cornell are the biggest thing that makes me smile.
My friends have made my time on campus go by very quickly and have made the time so fun. The staff on campus are always so friendly and go out of their way to make life great for Cornellians. Looking back on my four years, the people on campus are what will always make me smile.
Favorite spot on campus: My favorite spot on campus is either the study rooms in the residence halls or the baseball field. In each case, these places mean a lot to me because these are the places I have grown close with lots of peers and friends on campus. I have spent lots of time in these two locations, have gained lots of friends, played video games, played baseball, learned a lot, and really had the most fun in these spots.
Favorite food served at the Hilltop or Zamora’s: My favorite food served at the Hilltop is the bacon lo mein that is in the global section. I have always been a huge fan of the global section, but I am a huge fan of the bacon lo mein and always return for seconds on this dish.
What you’ll miss the most: The people. I have made lots of memories with my teammates and friends around campus. I have also grown close to and gained lots of mentors among the faculty members. I will miss seeing all of these friendly faces around campus and having fun in and out of the classroom with all of the great people I have met on campus.