University of Chicago ’11
Marilee attended the University of Chicago, where she majored in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Before coming to Bennington, she worked as a community organizer and participated in several archaeological excavations around the world.
“Throughout my undergraduate career, I struggled to connect my community organizing and social justice work with my passion for Middle Eastern archaeology and modern history—I increasingly felt the gaping divide between the two invariably meant I would have to make a choice between a life dedicated to activism or the ivory tower. The more I engaged in community organizing, however, the more I found myself drawn to the issue of healthcare for underserved populations, to the idea of being a true patient advocate. My interactions with health professionals illuminated medicine’s role as the confluence between my loves, proffering an avenue by which I could effect a positive impact on my community in a profession infused with the intellectual stimulation I craved. The sleuthing I observed that physicians needed to solve cases (akin to the depth of an analysis archaeologists employ to interpret finds), coupled with their potential to serve the greater community, captivated me. Medicine opened up as the road leading to both of the worlds I hope to occupy.
“I love Bennington’s small class sizes, the individualized attention they afford, the dialogue they inspire, and the supportive community that evolves around them. Though we’ve steeped ourselves in the world of science, we truly engage with the material—not simply memorizing tidbits but sincerely discussing what lies at the foundation of all that we study, something that in part stems from the class sizes and the students within those classes. Rather than facing a huge lecture hall full of highly competitive premeds, we attend class in a room full of incredibly smart postbacs and undergrads, all friends and collaborators, people who will ensure that we’ll figure the material out together—even if it means drawing out organic chemistry reactions on the white boards of CAPA late into the night.
“I’ve also loved my Field Work Term experience where the opportunity to enter the real world, and observe the various roles of physicians in pediatric and community health, has further fueled my passion to pursue a career in medicine and to devote myself to patient advocacy. Nothing has inspired me more than witnessing the dedication of the pediatricians I’ve observed at the downtown clinic as they unravel patients’ problems, combining astute diagnoses with an impeccable bedside manner and the compassion and understanding needed to work in underserved areas.”