A Degree in French as a Path to Med School: Grace Anne Hagen

CATEGORIES: February 2015

“…Pursuing a French degree has actually turned out to be helpful as I work towards medical school…” In this interview, Grace Anne Hagen, a senior majoring in French, discusses how a major in a world language is helping her prepare for a medical career.

What inspired your decision to major in French?

My motivation for pursuing a degree in French stemmed from two places really. First, both Jennifer Owens and Emily Olson, the pre-health advisors, encouraged me from early on to pursue something that I’m interested in, despite whether it is directly related to medicine or not. Second, I really enjoyed my French classes in high school. I had an incredibly inspiring and motivating teacher in high school that really encouraged my love of the language. So, I decided to pursue a degree in French.

How is your major in a language and culture helping you prepare for a field in the medical profession?

Pursuing a French degree has actually turned out to be helpful as I work towards medical school. There are a few chances for me to actually use the language, especially because I plan to continue volunteering abroad, like I have on the medical mission trips I’ve taken. I’ve also spent a major part of my college career learning about another culture. This, combined with my study abroad experience, has really given me a broader and more open-minded view of the world and the extent of diverse patients I could be working with in the future.


Tell us a little about your summer study abroad in Cannes, France and what you gained from that experience?

I spent 6 weeks studying in Cannes, France the summer before my senior year and it was absolutely incredible. I am so happy that I had the chance to go abroad because I know so many pre-med students who can’t make time for it. I loved the opportunity to travel and see so many places that I had never been to before but I also learned a lot more than just French while I was there. Through meeting so many different people, I learned a lot about diversity and the importance in respecting that diversity. I also learned to be adaptable and responsible for my own actions. If there is any advice I could give a pre-med student, or any student for that matter, it would be to go abroad if you have the opportunity. I believe it was the most beneficial experience of my college career.

What are you doing to prepare for medical school now that you’re approaching graduation?

Well, the application process for medical school takes about a year, so I’ve already completed my application and the interview process. At this point in the year, I’m just trying to savor my last few months at Iowa State while anxiously waiting for letters from the schools that I interviewed with.

What has been a favorite course you’ve taken in WLC during your time at Iowa State? 

I’ve enjoyed a lot of my classes here at Iowa State. I think my favorite would have to be the Paris Today! course that I took with Dr. Deininger. I really enjoyed learning about Paris and it’s influence on the rest of France. Plus, Dr. Deininger is a very passionate, knowledgeable professor, which makes any of her classes enjoyable.

If you had to share any tips or lessons learned as a pre-med and language student, what would you tell someone just starting as a Freshman down this same path?

My biggest tip is to avoid doing things just because you think a pre-med student should do it. You are creating your own journey and every student is different, so there is no checklist of qualities, or experiences that medical schools will be looking for. Invest your time in things that you enjoy and care about, because then you will be doing something you can be proud of. Also, go abroad if you have the opportunity to. There are programs all over the world and scholarships to cover the cost, so don’t get hung up on those common issues. There is a program out there that will suit you perfectly.