Congratulations to Joshua McGonagle Althoff ’19 who has been awarded awarded the 2023 Louis Pelzer Memorial A...
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2 East South Street
Galesburg, IL 61401
Crystal Lake, Illinois
Majors in Neuroscience and Studio Art
Describe your research experience.
I was a member of Loyola University's Stritch School of Medicine ASPIRE program, specifically the HEAL module, which stands for Health Equity and Advocacy Leaders. It was a weeklong experience dedicated to learning about and discussing health disparities in the U.S.
How did Knox help prepare you for this opportunity?
I wrote one of my entrance essays on some of the work I did this past year with SHAG (the Student Health Advocacy Group), about the free HIV testing we provide once a year. I think being able to reflect on that experience, especially in terms of how important empathy is in healthcare, helped my application stand out.
Also, at the end of the program we were all reflecting on what a diverse group of individuals we were (in many senses: race, ethnicity, life experience, socioeconomic background, age), and many people said they'd never been part of a group that looked like this before. I felt really grateful for the Knox community at that moment. We had a conversation about how, in a couple of decades, the United States would look a lot more like our group, and even though much of the country is still deeply segregated, I appreciate that Knox is attempting to prepare us for what the future is going to look like.
How do you see this experience having an impact on your future plans?
I was on the fence about becoming a doctor. I was worried I would end up contributing to and benefiting from a corrupt healthcare system, and I was worried the medical field would turn me into an apathetic, unimpassioned person. While at Stritch, I got to meet a lot of physicians who are just the opposite, and we learned so much about how to use our knowledge of social problems to address corruption directly.
What are some main takeaways from your experience?
The healthcare field impacts literally every major issue that matters to me; social, political, and environmental. When I decided to pursue a career in medicine, I figured I was making a worthwhile compromise by focusing on reforming the healthcare system. I didn't realize that most of the things I care about fighting or fixing are for the sake of bettering public health.