Devin Hedlund '18

Devin Hedlund: Redefining the term “go-getter”

At age four, Devin Hedlund insisted on learning the violin after hearing a classmate play Bach during show-and-tell. “I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” she recalls, “so I told my mom I wanted to play violin.” Luckily, the Preucil School of Music was close by, and it was there that Hedlund began studying violin and, two years later, piano (in addition to the slate of classes she took at Iowa City public schools). Her musical talent was undeniable—at age 13, she was the youngest student to tour Austria with the Preucil School’s premier ensemble.

But as much as she adored music, Hedlund also felt the pull of science. During high school, after inquiring about research opportunities at the University of Iowa, she began to conduct research on metastatic melanoma—the most aggressive and lethal form of skin cancer—through the university’s Department of Radiology and Radiation Oncology. That research, recalls Hedlund, “focused on a specific drug compound that had been designed by the lab to take advantage of the metabolic differences between cancer cells and normal cells to see if the cancer cells could be targeted.”

Long aware of Luther’s top-notch biology and music programs, Hedlund decided to follow in the footsteps of her mother, Diane (Gruenhaupt) Hedlund ‘87, and sister, Bryn Hedlund ’16. From the start, she knew she wanted to continue to participate in music (and she did, as a member of Symphony Orchestra and Collegiate Chorale) but did not want to major in it. Instead, Hedlund mapped out an academic plan that allowed her to double major in biology and English while minoring in Spanish. And she so excelled in all her classes that she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude.“I feel like I made the most of my college experience,” Hedlund says, noting that her majors were the perfect complement: English allowed her to discuss novels, which brought her joy, and her love of science put her on track for medical school at the University of Iowa, where she started classes in August.

“What most interests me about medicine is that I know I will always be learning—each patient presents his or her own unique set of challenges,” says Hedlund, who has shadowed physicians in many specialties but is keeping an open mind about her career path. “I also like the idea of working hard to resolve those challenges, as I typically do better when I have more on my plate.”

And what else would one would expect from this multitalented go-getter?

—Sara Friedl-Putnam