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Three for Three

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A trio of Albright College juniors and student-athletes applied and got accepted early into the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey.

By Hilary Bentman

Pat Wise, Colton Ryan and Thomas Herb have a lot in common.

All three are Albright College juniors majoring in biochemistry.

Each is an athlete – Wise is quarterback of the Lions football team; Ryan is a linebacker. And Herb, a former football player, is a winger on the men's rugby team.

All three friends and frequent classmates are also spending a good portion of their winter break with their noses buried in the great tomes that are the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) study guides.

"I just got the new MCAT 2015 books," said Herb, shortly before Christmas. "Pretty much I have no life right now."

That's because Herb, Wise and Ryan dream of becoming doctors.

And now, all three are well on their way to realizing those dreams, as each has applied and received conditional early acceptance to the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," says Wise.

Wise, Ryan and Herb have been accepted through the Early Assurance Program, an agreement between Albright and Hershey through which Albright students with at least a 3.5 grade point average at the end of their sophomore year, coupled with high SAT scores, and who have also completed most of the required premedical coursework, can receive early acceptance to the medical school.

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Pat Wise is quarterback of the Albright Lions football team.

Hershey's Early Assurance Program is highly competitive and open to candidates from a small number of Pennsylvania colleges and universities.

This year, three Albright juniors applied and all were accepted. Only once before have three Albrightians been accepted in the same year.

"The applicants selected from Albright College this year are very impressive and we look forward to having them join us in the future," says Dwight Davis, M.D., professor of medicine and associate dean of admissions and students affairs at Hershey.

Pre-med adviser Karen Campbell, Ph.D., who serves as Albright's P. Kenneth Nase M.D. '55 Professor of Biology, is not surprised that Wise, Ryan and Herb were all accepted. Each has strong grades, clinical experience, leadership in the lab and a plethora of extracurricular activities, she says.

"They are great Albright students," says Campbell. "They have that character where they're involved in and successful in so many different things."

Campbell adds that all three are highly disciplined, which she attributes, in large part, to their participation in athletics. "Good athletes are very disciplined and are often good students. Skills like time management are obvious to them," says Campbell.

Wise, Ryan and Herb all say it's about striking the right balance.

"Balancing is not the easiest thing in the world. You give up the social life aspect when you're a science major and a football player," says Ryan.

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Colton Ryan is a linebacker for the Albright Lions.

Ryan was recently named to the 2014 Middle Atlantic Conference Academic All-Conference football team, which honors players for their athletic and academic prowess.

"People usually don't think of football payers as extremely academic," he says. "It's nice to prove the stereotype wrong."

Ryan has always been drawn to science and traces his interest in medicine to the day, as a child, he entered a bookstore and picked up a volume called The Human Body.

Through an internship partnership program between the College and Reading Hospital, Ryan gained experience as a Scribe or Personal Productivity Assistant (PPA). Pre-med students work alongside emergency department doctors, documenting their entire encounter with patients and, among other things, recording information, updating medical records, and monitoring lab results.

"They learn to listen and what to record," says Campbell.

Wise has wanted to be a doctor since he arrived on Albright's campus, looking to combine his love of science with a strong desire to help people.

"You can have a potential impact on a lot of lives and families. That's what's most appealing," says Wise, who has served as a residential assistant, tutor and volunteer for the Humane Society of Berks County.

For now, Wise is interested in oncology, particularly its genetic aspects. It's a field that has a personal connection for him as his mother survived ovarian cancer.

"But everyone goes into med school with a plan and then changes about 50 times," he says.

A tutor, lab assistant and RA, Herb also participated in the Scribe program at Reading Hospital. He has yet to identify a potential specialty to pursue, but is ready to tackle the rigors of medical school.

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Thomas Herb (third from left) is a winger on the Albright men's rugby team.

"Albright has prepared us really well," says Herb. "Our science classes are tough, but our professors have helped us through."

Hershey's program is a robust one, says Campbell, marked by problem-based learning and a breadth of training and research opportunities.

The three students have also benefited from having each other to lean on.

"We're all good buddies and that makes everything a lot easier," says Ryan. "We remind each other of deadlines and joke about rooming together."

Albright has a strong history with the medical school in Hershey, with College alumni practicing at the adjoining medical center, including emergency room resident Joseph Polinski '09.

Twenty-five Albrightians have entered Hershey's medical school through the Early Assurance Program since the inception of the agreement in 1996, says Campbell.

All candidates for the Early Assurance Program must still complete their undergraduate requirements with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3, and earn at least Hershey's average score on the MCAT. The trio still has a busy year-and-a-half left at Albright.

"You still have to go full force," says Wise. "You can't sit back on any of your classes."

All three students have the right to withdraw from the agreement if they choose. But at this point, all seem Hershey-bound.

"It's a great program and a great school," says Herb.

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For more information about Albright's pre-med program, visit the biology department website at http://faculty.albright.edu/biology/index.html

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