Entire Calvin Pre Med Class Accepted

October 21, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — For the first time in his 25 years of teaching at Calvin College, Peter Tigchelaar, professor of biology and medical school adviser saw something amazing this year — each of 25 pre-med Calvin students won acceptance into medical school.

This marks the first year Calvin has seen a 100 percent acceptance rate, as compared to its usual 80 percent to 85 percent. Students were accepted to schools across the country with 21 going to medical school, two to dental school and one to podiatry school.

"We have really been attracting good students lately and this was an exceptional class," said Tigchelaar. "We have a great staff and faculty and there are many other factors but when it comes right down to it we just had a great group of students. This takes dedication and these students have been nothing but dedicated."

One of the other factors Tigchelaar spoke about is the new John "Doc" DeVries Hall. The $18 million, 70,000 square foot life sciences facility, dedicated in the fall of 1999, when this year's seniors were sophomores, gave faculty and students in the Calvin sciences 60 percent more space for research.

"This place is humming in the summer," Tigchelaar said of DeVries Hall. "Our students are involved in all kinds of research programs, working side-by-side with Calvin professors. They have full access to all the equipment and all of the labs. We hide nothing from them, and medical schools look at these kinds of experiences."

He said medical schools also look at students' involvement in organizations that they can network through and receive guidance through. To assist its students, Calvin created its first American Medical Students Association (AMSA) chapter. The AMSA program is a nation wide organization for pre-med and medical students that offers mentoring and direction for students who are pursuing or considering pursuing a career in the medical field.

Peter Knoester was one of the students who helped organize the chapter, an effort that led to him being named a recipient of a prestigious Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award in men's soccer by the publication Black Issues in Higher Education.

The award recognizes student athletes of color who have displayed significant accomplishments in athletics, academics and community service. Tigchelaar said Knoester is a good representation of this year's seniors.

A native of Grand Rapids and graduate of Grand Rapids Christian High School, Knoester was a Calvin Spanish major who is attending the University of Michigan Medical School this fall, prior to a planned career in medical missions.

What inspired his plans was trip to Ecuador for a Calvin course in January 2000. While in Ecuador Knoester worked at the Hospital Vozandes Oriente, sorting medical supplies, pouring concrete for new hospital facilities and shadowing hospital doctors. During the term, Knoester spent two weeks living in the Ecuadorian  jungle with two separate tribes.

"Those are the kinds of experiences that are part of who we are as a liberal arts college," said Tigchelaar. "Our goal is to turn out intelligent, capable and well-rounded graduates."

He added that he is not only excited for his students but also for the hundreds of Calvin alumni already working locally, regionally and nationally in the health professions.

Tigechelaar noted that this year's seniors look promising and only time will tell what this year's acceptance rate will be.

"I find this very encouraging news as the pre-med adviser," he said, "but I also think our many alumni in the medical professions will be heartened to know that the trails they blazed are being followed by a talented group of successors."

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