New honors program for future pre-health students

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Photo courtesy of Ben Delin//The Muhlenberg Weekly

The Shankweiler Scholars Program will be offered next fall to first-year students on the pre-health track. Over the course of four years, scholars will enroll in program-specific seminars, complete a core curriculum and participate in lectures regarding medicine and society.

Any first-year student planning to pursue the pre-health track is eligible to apply. Students planning to major in the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences are especially well-suited for the program. “[Medical schools] love it when somebody’s taken all the required science courses…but they’re an English major,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson, Dean of Academic Life. “That’s what they really want. They want people who can relate to their patients in different ways.”

Scholars will receive annual merit-based scholarships of $5,000, in addition to an edge on the competition when applying to medical school. “One intent of the Shankweiler Scholars is to get them to come here and have all these experiences so they can be well-educated and become more competitive when they actually apply for medical school, dental school, things like that,” Anderson explained. “We’re hoping that [this program] will be another way for medical schools to start to identify that Muhlenberg students are really good. We’re really trying to see if we can get some more connections with medical schools and ultimately find better placements for our students.”

The program is named not only for the science building, but for 1921 graduate Dr. John Shankweiler, a former biology professor and one of the pillars of the Muhlenberg science department. “He had the reputation that if a student wanted to go to Temple, he would pick up the phone and tell Temple, ‘You need to take this person,’ and they would,” Anderson noted. “He had those relationships built up, and that’s the kind of reputation we want to get back to.”

While current pre-health students won’t be able to enroll in this program, they can still see the benefits that future scholars will enjoy. “The pre-med requirements and competition can be overwhelming and many students abandon this track. I think this program will lead to greater retention of students that declare pre-med when entering college,” said Taylor Zuckerman ’19, a pre-PA student. “I think it will give its members necessary experience that medical schools are looking for.”

For more information on the Shankweiler Scholars Program, visit: https://www.muhlenberg.edu/academics/shankweilerscholars/

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