Marcus Nordquist's recent acceptance to the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Rochester marks a rare feat in St. Thomas history.
Nordquist graduated in May with a degree in biology. Over the past four years, he has worked as a STEM mentor, was an Excel! Research Scholar, and conducted research with the University of Minnesota on health disparities and cancer as part of a summer internship.
Tell me about your background.
I'm from Roseville, Minnesota; I grew up here my whole life. When it came to deciding to come to St. Thomas, a few friends and teachers introduced me to the school. They [St. Thomas] were able to offer me some scholarships. When I came here I got a lot of support from the faculty and teachers and they really helped me.
What got you interested in the medical field?
Growing up I had an aunt who was living with us and after a few years she developed cancer. Having to go through that and see that firsthand, working with doctors and seeing the work they were able to do started my passion toward the field of medicine. Taking care of my aunt over those years furthered my interest.
How did your research prepare you?
I think it really prepared me to be better intellectually and engaged in school and it pushed me ... [I'm glad that I was able to do] the experiments and write papers. It really helped and prepared me for the next step of going to medical school.
What work did you do as a STEM mentor?
I mentored incoming first-generation STEM students and created different kinds of workshops. The supervisors in that program were able to help with creating new projects and helping other STEM mentors along the way.
How did your experience at St. Thomas prepare you for the field?
The small class sizes here helped me to better connect with my classmates and teachers. I had a lot of great teachers who were able to help guide me through the process by writing me letters of recommendation or offering me opportunities to work in different types of programs. I wouldn't be able to find that at another school.
What work did you do in the Excel! Research Scholars program?
I was paired with a research supervisor, Dalma Martinović, and worked on a project under her studying the effects of chemicals from household products on fish cell development. Besides the research, we learned a lot of other things in the program, like social justice and how we can better help our communities.
Why did you want to apply at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine? Were you shocked when you learned you were accepted?
I grew up hearing a lot about how great it [Mayo Clinic] is, so I figured I would apply. That surprised me a lot and I was really happy.
What advice can you give to future St. Thomas students wanting to enter the medical field?
Keep the end goal in mind because it's gonna be a grind. Remind yourself why you're doing this and why you're passionate about the field of medicine. Maintaining that passion toward the field you want to go into will help a lot.