Meredith Faller ’11 felt relieved as a prospective first-year student visiting campus. Although the Indianapolis native knew that she wanted to pursue science-related coursework, she was also eager to explore other areas. When she witnessed students taking diverse classes such as dance, statistics, metalworking, and neuroscience, she was sold. “A liberal arts education would give me the freedom to choose my own academic adventures and wouldn’t pigeonhole me into a Pre-Med track.” She appreciated that Earlham encourages students to invest in designing their own education.
Faller took that to heart, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a major in neuroscience and a minor in Spanish. She is a second-year MD/MPH student at Indiana University School of Medicine and Fairbanks School of Public Health.
Earlham taught her to think critically and inspired her to care. Influential faculty and course experiences shaped her college career and pointed her towards her current graduate work, including the child case study from Vince Punzo’s Human Development class. “Over a semester, we attended playdates, kindergarten classes, family dinners, and other activities with our child. Watching developmental concepts play out in real life helped me empathize with children and their perception of the world.” Faller uses skills learned in Punzo’s class when she works with pediatric patients, helping to put the children at ease.
Chris Swafford (Spanish) taught Faller both in and out of the classroom. Faller has found Swafford’s instruction of Spanish to be invaluable knowledge as she works in the emergency room. But she also treasures trekking over 600 miles with Swafford on the Camino de Santiago, a time of immense personal growth.
And of course given her major, “I’ve got to give a shout-out to the BioChem faculty! What a cohesive group of fantastic people! No one makes science as cool as they do!”
Faller felt prepared for medical school because of the high expectations set by faculty. “Earlham professors routinely gave us responsibilities most colleges don’t entrust to their students,” citing examples such as being given keys to a building, closed-note take-home exams, and positions on faculty interview committees. Such responsibilities were given in part so that students would learn and grow, and she appreciates the faculty’s faith and trust.
After completion of her MD/MPH, she plans to care, teach and research in medically-vulnerable populations. Her dream is to develop a partnership between an American medical school and a healthcare center in South/Central America that facilitates bilingual student learning and provides low-cost health services to community members. And one day, she may return to the liberal arts classroom to inspire health-minded students to follow their dreams, as she has.