USF seniors earn acceptance into medical school
April 20, 2022
USF pre-medicine biology seniors Cydney Christensen, Tyra Grischke and Jordan Konstanty achieved the next big step in their careers this spring—acceptance into medical school. The three students demonstrated the grit, determination and discipline necessary to claim these elite positions reserved for only the very best. Having three USF grads accepted into medical school in one year is, as Professor of Biology and Pre-Med Program Director Dr. Amy Obringer says, “a big deal.”
Here are their stories:
Christensen completed degrees in pre-medicine biology and psychology in four years, while also playing college volleyball. When medical school offers rolled in, she picked her dream school—Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine (CUSOM). She felt secure about the education and test preparation because her sister is a third-year medical student there. “I also want to give back to rural communities, and CUSOM focuses on the underserved,” she said.
Christensen, who is from Swanton, Ohio, and a graduate of Swanton High School, relied on family members, friends, advisers and good, old-fashioned exercise to remain focused and energized. “I’d work out around 6 a.m. for an hour, and it set me up for a great day.”
Faculty, programs and facilities came together to help her complete dual degrees. “My advisers worked hard to make classes work with my schedule, as I was also a college athlete. The USF cadaver lab has prepared me to work in the medical school labs. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from the cadavers and teach other students as a teacher’s assistant,” she said. “The smaller class sizes allowed me to become very close with my professors. I knew I could reach out to any of them.”
She’ll work in primary care obstetrics and gynecology. “I want to help give women the freedom to choose their own healthcare. My calling is to serve others, and I am so excited to spend the next decade in medical education.”
Grischke surmounted challenges as a biracial candidate to gain acceptance into several medical schools. She earned degrees in pre-medicine biology and psychology and captained the women’s tennis team.
“It was such an honor to be accepted into multiple schools,” she said. “It seems the one-page summary of why I want to become a doctor resonated with them. I spoke of challenges faced being biracial, and how they have given me a unique perspective. Then I related how I brought that experience into my previous healthcare jobs.”
When the time came to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), the biology department had her back. “It takes around seven hours to complete and covers multiple topics,” she said. “Study materials are expensive, but Dr. Obringer and the university worked out a discounted price on an MCAT prep course for us. That was a huge help because we have already learned the raw material, but the course teaches how to understand and apply it to the test. Doctors Obringer, (Monica) Heller and (Michael) Bechill have provided a huge amount of guidance over the past few years.”
Grischke, a Fort Wayne native, graduated from Northrop High School.
“Growing up as a minority, I never encountered doctors who looked like me,” she said. “I hope that begins to change as I start my career, and that my presence as a physician inspires others to chase their dreams. I am interested in neonatology after shadowing USF graduate Dr. Lisa Piwoszkin.”
Konstanty, who is from South Bend and graduated from Saint Joseph High School, competed in USF track and field during his pre-medicine studies. “It was not easy taking 18 credit hours every semester, being a full-time athlete, volunteering, working at the hospital and doing all I could to gain experience,” he said. “During my junior year, I was taking my hardest courses during track season and studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). I got up at 6 a.m., and after I went to classes, practiced for track and studied, it was after 8 p.m.”
Sometimes, he wanted to give up, but the goal of medical school kept him on task. “I also had a strong support system,” he said. “My coach understood if I had to change practice time in order to study. The week before my first national championship trip, I missed every practice to study for the MCAT. Coach (Kyle) Allison practiced with me so I could succeed. I always had Coach and Dr. Obringer on my side. This support helped keep me going.”
Konstanty took full advantage of USF’s strong pre-medicine program. “The science department has all the tools you need to get into medical school. We have highly qualified professors who challenge us to be better. Advisers like Dr. Obringer give you the tools to achieve your goals. We are given abundant opportunities to gain experience as future healthcare providers. I would tell students to commit to all these opportunities.”
To top off his athletic career, Konstanty set a USF record in the weight throw his final season.