“I think the beauty of a liberal arts education is that we immerse ourselves in a single area of study while engaging in additional courses that nurture meaningful connections and new perspectives. These intersections are powerful and provide such depth to an education.”
Now a resident physician at Yale New Haven Hospital, McKenna realizes that Luther was the best place for her undergraduate education. Originally, however, McKenna was hesitant to look at Luther. “I grew up convinced that I would spend my college years at any institution but Luther. My parents both are Luther grads, and my independent, strong-willed nature compelled me not to follow directly in their footsteps.”
However, “within five minutes of arriving on campus, the strength of the Luther community was immediately evident. I was drawn to the dedicated professors, the diversity of courses offered, the active community, and the beautiful landscape,” she says. “Luther seemed to be the place where I could both deeply engage in my academics and explore my passions outside the classroom.”
McKenna had always been active in dance and wanted to continue that at Luther. She danced in Orchesis, but was hesitant to take a dance class. The Contact Improvisation course seemed like it would make her feel vulnerable and outside of her comfort zone. But by her final semester, she decided to take the class. “I began forming connections between Contact Improvisation and my concurrent neuroscience course,” McKenna says. “I witnessed the interconnectedness of the body, the mind, of movement, and of dance. This intersection nurtured new perspectives, brought profound depth to both courses, and made my Luther education whole,” she says.
“Luther prepared me exceptionally well for life as a medical student and physician,” she says. “My biology and chemistry courses built a solid foundation of knowledge that equipped me for the rigors of medical school.” Though outside of her major, courses in dance taught her to use her body as a tool for investigation and learning. “I knew this was a topic that I would continue to explore as a medical student.”
McKenna’s work-study experiences were also essential in her preparation. As a lab assistant for the Chemistry Department, she says, “I was able to practice teaching complicated concepts to really bright people. My experience set the foundation for teaching science in a way that is approachable and empowering to people.”
As she entered medical school, McKenna wanted to continue to practice “embodied learning” the way she had in her final semester at Luther. “I began to use my own body as a source for exploring the patterns of arteries, veins, nerves, and muscles through movement,” she says. “This embodied practice provided depth to my academics as well as an outlet for me to express my authentic self. In all, my Luther education equipped me with complexity, versatility, and adaptability to thrive as a person and a future physician.”
“Be gentle with yourself. You're working hard and it can be easy to neglect yourself in the process. Give your full self to what you love while making time to take care of yourself. Celebrate the wonderful people and beautiful place that surrounds you.”
-McKenna Campbell-Potter '16
Read more from McKenna about her experience connecting neuroscience and dance.