For Dustin Shaw, AB ’13, the University of Chicago has been home for the past seven years and counting. Dustin hails from Kentucky, but the multi-cultural background of his family and summers spent overseas inspired Dustin to matriculate to a college that celebrated a unique student population, interdisciplinary education, and the ability to engage in rigorous research while immersed in an urban environment. He found his fit at UChicago, and matriculated in the fall of 2009. His family background also inspired Dustin to serve others through the practice of medicine.
Throughout his time at UChicago, Dustin seized opportunities to explore his interests and connect with the local community. He was a three-year member of Peer Health Exchange, where he taught local high school students about health and wellness. Dustin also took advantage of opportunities to do research, working for two years in a developmental biology lab studying the genetics involved in spinal cord development in vertebrates. He was awarded a position as a UChicago Careers in Health Professions Katen Scholar to pursue his research full-time over the summer, an experience that proved pivotal to Dustin’s career: “The Katen Scholars Program taught me to navigate the interdisciplinary nature of medicine, and showed me that successful healthcare depends both on the advancement of basic sciences and integration of social, political, and economic contexts.”
Dustin graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences and a specialization in Endocrinology. Following graduation, he worked for two years in the UChicago Department of Medicine—an experience that confirmed Dustin’s desire to pursue both an MD and a PhD through application to the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). At the conclusion of the application process, Dustin was thrilled to have the opportunity to continue the research and relationships he built at the University of Chicago for his medical studies.
As an undergraduate, Dustin demonstrated a commitment to serving his peers as a student coordinator for Taking the Next Step (TNS), as a Resident Assistant, and as a teaching assistant. As a current MSTP student, Dustin continues to support UChicago undergraduates. He has moved to the other side of the table at TNS as a roundtable leader, has shared his advice with students during UCIHP events, and conducts medical school mock interviews for current applicants to medical school. As both a medical and graduate student, Dustin is certainly quite busy, yet he remains committed to helping the next generation of UChicago undergraduates. He says, “UCIHP has always been there for me, and I am truly grateful for every way that they have helped me along my path to medicine. Working with current students after graduating is my way of showing my appreciation. Additionally, it makes me happy to see younger students succeed and I am always willing to help out to help them do so.”
As for the advice that he most commonly gives current undergraduates? “Take your time deciding whether or not medicine is right for you. Let yourself explore other things, and if you end up coming back to medicine, great! Some of the most interesting and talented medical students that I have met took time to explore other things,” he says, adding, “I also suggest checking in periodically with your UCIHP adviser, because they are constantly hearing about new, interesting opportunities for pre-health professions students. Also, keep an open mind about your career path within the health professions, and if you find something that piques your interest, let your adviser know. The UCIHP advisers are here to help you achieve any and all of your professional goals.”