Forest Lake, Ill.
Graduate Student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine
Owen Lewer graduated from Carthage in 2020 with a pre-health degree in biology. He is a student at the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Ill., where he studies the molecular, cellular, anatomical, and physiological basis of disease as well as how to apply that knowledge to heal the human body. After this position, he will graduate and move on to residency as a Doctor of Medicine.
Mr. Lewer credits his professors, his J-Term study tours to Guatemala and Spain, and his experiences with the Carthage College Habitat for Humanity Club to his success in and after college.
“Do hard things: Travel if you have the means, and stretch your comfort zone. Not only will your future self thank you, but admissions committees and employers are looking for interesting and introspective applicants to fill their classes and offices.”
What have you enjoyed most about your career?
“Before I arrived at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine a week ago, I was a clinical care aide in Washington, D.C. at a hospice and respite care home for individuals with HIV and/or cancer experiencing homelessness. During my year at Joseph’s House in D.C., I became close to so many special people who have made their mark on me for life. Respite and hospice care means that all of our new patients came into the house very sick. Some of those patients recovered and lived, and some of those patients passed away in our care. I knew that every day I went to work, the relationships I was forming with our residents were genuine and special. I was privileged to be able to walk with folks through the journey of either death or recovery.
“I may never again be able to form such strong relationships with patients again in my career, so I cherish every time an old friend from D.C. calls me to say hello or reminisce on our time at ‘J House.’ Aside from simply enjoying these relationships, this experience exposed me to homelessness, death, social work, the inequities within the health care system, and spirituality in a way which will make me a much more informed and empathetic doctor throughout my career.”
How did Carthage prepare you?
“My professors paid close attention to my education throughout the four years I spent at Carthage. The effort they put into me, personally, affected the quality of research I produced in Carthage’s labs, the extent to which I was able to engage with Kenosha through service work, and the quality of my primary and secondary applications and essays to medical school. Professors like Deborah Tobiason, Matthew Zorn, David Brownholland, Matt Borden, Steven Henle, Paul Martino, James Ripley, and many others cared more than they had to about my education and future.”
Why did you choose Carthage?
“I knew I wanted to go to a small school before I started applying for undergrad. Carthage was able to give me more meaningful research experiences in microbiology and cell biology than any other school I applied to. Additionally, and sorry for the cliche, Carthage’s campus just felt like home when I visited.”
What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?
“I was able to present our work with the Tobiason lab in front of a group of experts in space research at the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium Conference before my senior year, which was an exhilarating experience. Additionally, I was able to become semi-fluent in Spanish through J-Term study tours to Guatemala and Spain, travel to Japan with the Carthage Wind Orchestra, build houses in three states through the Carthage College Habitat for Humanity club with Prof. Zorn, and live on the shore of Lake Michigan.”
What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?
“While I cannot thank all the professors that helped me, I can name a few that played a significant role in where I am today. Prof. Tobiason spent so much time in the lab and her office with me doing Space Phage (the study of small, bacteria-infecting viruses in a microgravity setting) and mentoring me along my journey through college and beyond. Prof. Zorn helped bring some incredible friends and me to Taos, N. Mex., Tallahassee, Fla., and Oklahoma City, Okla. with Habitat for Humanity while, along the way, teaching us how to be more empathic and genuine people. Prof. Borden went with me to Guatemala and Spain, helping to teach me Spanish as well as how to advocate for myself.”
Were you an award recipient? If so, tell us about the awards you received and what they meant to you.
“I am a Hays Scholar, and I received the Carthage College Earl Lambert Award and the Carthage College Biology Department Best Poster.”