Reflections of a Hamilton Alumnus with George Fett '75
The decision to attend Hamilton College was crucial in shaping and guiding the development of my professional and personal successes. Living as an alumnus for the past 43 years, has given me the opportunity to recognize how many of the opportunities that I have had have come as a result of my being a Hamilton graduate.
As an alum, I can also offer reflections and advice, which will be primarily, but not exclusively, helpful to those of you who are considering the pursuit of a career in one of the health professions. I hope that I can offer some perspective and guidance as you plan, develop, and complete your undergraduate education.
To start, it is important not to look too far ahead of where you are now. Often, when we second guess ourselves, we fail to develop what is uniquely ours. Professional schools are designed to successfully teach their students the specific skills required to function at a high level in their chosen occupation. You must continuously remind yourself that Hamilton is not a professional school. For right now, your duty as an undergraduate student is to embrace the process of learning how to learn profoundly. As best you can, take as many courses as possible from different departments. Experiment and immerse yourself in the liberal arts mindset. Now is the time in your life to entirely focus on the development of your cognitive and reasoning skills. Be eager and enthusiastic while you have the opportunity to see the world through "fresh" eyes. Challenge yourself. Be curious and, most of all, be present in managing uncertainty, failure, and self-reflection. Success is not only about your grades and your G.P.A. Yes, those factors matter, as they reflect your commitment to learning. But then, so do many intangible character qualities, such as passion, leadership, and teamwork.
When I graduated with a Spanish language major, I had no idea that I would eventually become an internist with a specialty training in orthopedic regeneration medicine. Now, however, I can now look back at how my professors and my fellow students in the courses of ballet, photography, and art helped me appreciate the complexities of movement and form. These are skill sets that I have used as I worked with patients. Learning the core principles of the "science" of medicine is relatively easy. What is much more challenging is learning the "art" of recognizing and working with the unique and individual needs of each patient. Each of your professors, no matter the course, have exceptional abilities in offering you insight into how they developed a profound relationship with the process of discovery and learning. Professors are an essential reason why you chose to come study at Hamilton (our cloistered and uniquely intimate liberal arts college). You could have enrolled in any of the highly-selective European health professional institutions, which are based on a six-year program that begins immediately after high school. You could have also chosen to study at one of the many excellent American universities, where class sizes are frequently large and where you are often co-taught by graduate teaching assistants, and where it is rare to establish relationships with your professors. Professional health institutions vie for candidates who have the requisite cognitive abilities combined with developed interpersonal social skills, all of which Hamilton graduates are known to possess.
My final piece of advice is to take full advantage of the services provided by Leslie Bell and her staff and associates at the Health Professions Advising Center. Remember, it is never too early to begin establishing a relationship with them, as they are highly skilled and possess many years of experience assisting students. There is no doubt that you will benefit greatly from their insights, advice, and guidance as you plan and navigate what is often a challenging and stressful process of gaining admissions to a health professions program.