Posted on Oct 11, 2018 in Career/Life and News
Thomas Angel took the long road to the University of Kansas, but he’s making sure his time here counts. Thanks to the power of the KU Mentoring platform, Angel connected with a practicing surgeon who he will shadow over winter break.
Coming to KU
After nearly a decade deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait, Angel tore his PCL and had microfracture surgery. He chose to be “med boarded out” and applied to the University of Kansas on his girlfriend’s recommendation.
Angel is pursuing a double major in Latin and behavioral neuroscience, the latter of which requires an extensive amount of shadowing to be accepted into medical school. After studying abroad in Italy last summer, he was looking for a mentorship with someone in his dream career of neurosurgery.
Making a Connection
After learning about the KU Alumni Mentoring platform through the Student Alumni Leadership Board, Angel jumped at the opportunity. “I don’t think people realize how hard it is to find doctors who are willing to let students shadow,” he said.
One of the recommended mentors was Dr. John Aucar, an acute care surgeon and KU alumnus. Angel connected with him through the platform and they set up a meeting that Saturday.
“When I met Dr. Aucar we immediately made a connection. My first duty station was in El Paso, Texas, and he practices in the area. Over winter break he’ll be in El Paso, and he invited me to join him. To be able to meet a mentor that you instantly click with, can have a successful relationship with and both benefit in different ways from the experience is a dream come true.”
Angel wants to be a neurosurgeon, a goal that comes with seven to eight years of residency. With that much preparation required, he strives to make his experiences count.
“My number one goal for job shadowing is to make a personal connection with the person I’m shadowing. Beyond that, it’s about making sure you understand what’s actually happening. A lot of times, especially with medical, the doctors aren’t teachers. You have to work to get answers from them. It’s easy to just stand and watch, but understanding why they’re doing it is my key to shadowing.”
Helping Students Succeed
Since arriving at KU, Angel has taken advantage of the many opportunities provided to him, including joining the Student Alumni Leadership Board to add a voice for students like him. “I wanted to find a niche on campus for non-traditional students to be in leadership positions. I saw it as a place for me where my opinion matters and where I can help create and shape [Student Alumni Network] events.”
Angel draws from a completely different set of experiences compared to traditional students, but he wants those in his shoes to know that they belong on this campus.
“The KU community is completely different than how you think it would be from the outside looking in. I am involved in several different clubs and boards around campus and fit in just fine. I’m 12 years older than my average peer at this stage in my academic career and I learn things from them daily, and I hope that they learn from me just as well. Non-traditional students have life experiences and stories of their own that can positively impact this campus.”
Stay tuned for more about Angel’s job-shadowing experience during winter break. For more information on how the Jayhawk Career Network can help you connect with KU alumni, visit kualumni.org/jayhawkcareernetwork.