Profile: Sara Higgins ’08

Medical student

"I always wanted to be a doctor while I was growing up," says Sara Higgins.

"I was never interested in science or math in high school," she recalls. "I convinced myself that I would not be able to be a doctor because of this." It wasn't until she started studying the sciences at Evergreen that she discovered her passion for medicine.

"During my first science class, Introduction to Natural Science, I also worked at the Student Health Center training to be a medical assistant. Science at first was very difficult, but I loved the interactions with patients at the health center. Evergreen's hands-on approach made science less intimidating and more understandable."

Today, Higgins is in her second year at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Evergreen's interactive, problem-based approach to learning in the sciences, as well as undergraduates' opportunities to work with faculty on scientific and health-related research, prepared her well for medical school.

"My work at Evergreen prepared me to be able to think critically, evaluate faculty, and approach problems in a unique way," she says. "At the University of Vermont, our curriculum is integrated, similar to Evergreen's, and we participate in weekly small group discussions that link the social and ethical aspects of disease with the clinical and basic science side."

Before going to medical school, Higgins spent a year doing postgraduate biological research with Evergreen faculty member Donald Morisato, which was instrumental in developing her skills.

"My work in the lab is where I was able to utilize all the critical thinking skills I learned in the programs at Evergreen," she says. "It's also where I grew comfortable with voicing my ideas and opinions about the problem at hand. To this day, I use that experience. I am so grateful for my research experiences at Evergreen and all the support from faculty and staff."

When Higgins entered medical school, she was convinced she wanted to go into family medicine. But now she finds she's also interested in pediatrics, oncology and surgery. "I love learning and I have Evergreen to thank for that," she says. "It opened my eyes to the world and made me excited to be a part of it. As a doctor, I will continually be learning the science behind diseases, new innovations of technology, and most importantly, I will get to be a part of people's lives."