For Lindsay (Motta) Oliveira, her mission field is also the medical field. Each day she undertakes the tremendous responsibility of sharing Christ with her patients and their families. “Some of them are dying,” said Lindsay, a 1999 graduate of Huntington University with a Bachelor of Science in science degree. “Others are facing the imminent death of their loved ones. Still others have hit rock bottom and have never heard about the only One who can fill that empty hole deep inside.”
A native of Rochester, Mass., Lindsay completed a combined internal medicine/pediatrics residency program in Grand Rapids, Mich., after leaving HU. Her medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine has given her the technical knowledge to treat disease, but she also hopes to point her patients’ hearts towards the more lasting healing found in Christ.
“I don’t pretend to understand how my patients feel,” Lindsay said. “I rarely know the right words to say. I pray that God will give me wisdom and that the Holy Spirit will speak through me. Perhaps they will start seeking after God. Perhaps they will think of the prayer I said with them months or years later. Perhaps they will continue to try to fill their emptiness with other things. No matter what choice they make, I have an obligation to tell them about my Lord and Savior.”
At Huntington, Lindsay says her professors taught the basics of both science and Christianity, lessons that gave her the all-around preparation necessary for the challenges of medical school and her current profession.
“They were always there to help me academically, spiritually and personally,” Lindsay said. “They recognized the necessity of integrating faith into every aspect of their lives and tried to teach us to do the same. The academics were rigorous enough to prepare me for medical school, and the spiritual environment was nurturing enough to prepare me for living the Christian life.”
That spiritual environment also helped her lay a foundation for medical school, where Lindsay grew deeper in her faith. “For the first time I had many friends who did not share my faith,” she remembers. “I was also far from home and far from the support system I had grown used to when surrounded by Christian friends and family. In my first year of med school, I began to desire God more than I had ever desired Him before. My relationship with Him became more personal, and my time with Him became essential to making it through the day.”
Personal relationships were part of what initially drew Lindsay to choose Huntington University for her undergraduate degree. One-on-one conversations with professors during her visits as a high school student assured her she would be more than a number at Huntington.
“That was the first evidence that I would have an up close and personal touch to my education,” she said. “Professors and administrators took a personal interest in me, giving me the overwhelming feeling that Huntington University was not a place where I would be easily lost in the shuffle.”
And Lindsay still retains that personal connection with her professors. “Huntington became a second home for me,” she said. “Even now, several years after graduating, I keep in touch with my professors and don’t hesitate to get in touch with them when I need their expertise.”
Working in a field where life often hangs in the balance, Lindsay is grateful for these professors who taught her to think critically about the moral and ethical issues she faces daily in medicine. “The professors at Huntington did not allow us to casually adopt their opinions,” she said. “In fact, they often made us defend our beliefs by presenting contradictory arguments. As juniors and seniors we had classes dedicated to dealing with moral and ethical dilemmas specific to our chosen field.”
For students interested in pre-med, Lindsay encourages them to consider Huntington University. The path to medical school doesn’t lie solely in a “prestigious” or “Ivy League” undergraduate program, says Lindsay, adding that medical school admissions committees now recognize that small schools often provide a rigorous academic curriculum. “Your admissions test scores and recommendation letters from professors who know you personally will prove your worth,” she said.
Lindsay also advises pre-med students to get advice from Huntington graduates on preparing for medical school. “The great thing about Huntington University is that any former grad would be happy to help you along, or even help you arrange an internship or preceptorship,” she said.
Lastly, Lindsay urges potential pre-med students to get involved in Huntington’s opportunities in volunteer work, missions trips, worships teams and athletics. While at Huntington, she competed in track and field, volleyball and cross country along with volunteering through the Joe Mertz Center.
“Medical schools view these as opportunities to develop leadership skills,” she said. “Even more importantly, these are opportunities for you to get out of your comfort zone, grow spiritually, live out your faith and develop a broader view of the world.”
And Lindsay’s favorite college memories come from both the classroom and outside opportunities she found at Huntington. “Thoughts like crying over unfinished organic chemistry labs, trekking through an African village telling others about Christ’s love, developing lifelong friendships in a corner of Hardy Hall, painting houses for underprivileged people, and road trips with the track team all race through my mind,” she said.
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