“You’re not a number at Plymouth State, and you make really meaningful connections with your professors and peers,” says Jewelia Durant ’20. “PSU taught me independence and how to really search for myself, and to facilitate those types of relationships that help me find purpose in what I’m doing. It’s absolutely the best place for you if you’re planning to be pre-med.”
Durant, now a medical student at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine, is thrilled to study medicine in her home state and hopes to eventually practice here as well.
As a member of Geisel’s Rural Health Scholars organization, Durant is among those wanting to care for rural, underserved populations. Though still very early on her path to becoming a physician, she thinks she might specialize in surgery or anesthesia. “There’s a need, particularly in rural hospitals,” she explains. “It would improve outcomes for a lot of patients who otherwise might have to be med flighted to Boston, with the long travel potentially resulting in more trauma.”
Dartmouth was a familiar environment for Durant, whose Plymouth State studies were augmented by a research internship at the medical center’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center, where she also worked as a lab technician and shadowed clinical oncologists. Additional relevant positions include work with a dermatology practice on the New Hampshire Seacoast and volunteering with the Red Cross and an emergency department.
Both of Durant’s parents are Air Force veterans and she initially considered serving as well. Instead, she took her place among Plymouth State’s first-generation college students, who account for roughly 50 percent of the student body.
Durant’s path to medical school was blazed with numerous PSU honors, including the Outstanding Organic Chemistry Student and the Senior Chemistry Achievement awards. As a senior she captained the University’s Women’s Lacrosse Team, which won the league championship and made consecutive NCAA appearances during her four-year tenure. Additional Plymouth State activities included tutoring for the Biology and Chemistry programs, serving as a Biochemistry teaching assistant, and participating in Best Buddies, which offers programs for individuals both with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The leadership skills she acquired in Plymouth are finding expression at Geisel as a chapter leader for the school’s Medicine in Motion group, which encourages student fitness. She is also a chapter member of the Association of Women Surgeons.
Many of Durant’s current peers came from big universities with very different vibes than the one generated by Plymouth State’s intimate scale. “PSU is a very unique experience,” she says.
“One of my friends from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had hundreds of people in their Physical Chemistry class, whereas mine only had 10 or 15.”
Durant also had time to enjoy hiking and skiing while in Plymouth, and finds that her well-rounded undergraduate experience can also set her apart from colleagues. “I didn’t feel I had to fit that over-consuming ‘pre-med identity,’” she says. “Those other parts of me, like getting outdoors, kept me grounded and were really meaningful, and I don’t think I would’ve thrived that much in a city.”