Calvin University recently connected with three pre-med alumni who were matched to their residencies on the national Match Day this spring. Catch up with these residents and learn more about their journeys.
Rachel Baker ’17, Biochemistry and Kinesiology
Medical school: University of Florida College of Medicine
Residency: University of Florida College of Medicine, Anesthesiology
Adily Elmi ’13, Biology
Medical school: MSU College of Human Medicine
Residency: Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Internal Medicine
Samuel Vander Griend ’19, Biology
Medical school: University of Washington School of Medicine
Residency: University of Washington/Seattle Children's Hospital, Pediatrics
Why did you choose Calvin?
Rachel: As a member of the “My Entire Family Went to Calvin” club, I was hesitant if not outright opposed to attending Calvin when I was in high school. I still applied and participated in a Fridays at Calvin. Come decision day, I realized I couldn’t see myself at any of the other schools to which I applied. I did an about-face and embraced the idea of going to Calvin.
Adily: I was born in Mogadishu, Somalia and due to the civil war, my family and I went from being internally displaced in Somalia to refugees seeking a place of comfort in Kenya. My parents yearned for a place to call home where we would have access to education, stability and, above all else, safety. Such a hope became a reality when my family immigrated to the United States in 2004. As I navigated through the educational system of America, finally the choice of college presented itself. I originally was going to start college at Central Michigan University, however, I felt a sense of uneasiness. I talked this over with my mom and she urged me to check out Calvin College. As I walked the campus, the uneasiness I once felt dampened, and I knew this is where my college journey would begin.
Samuel: By the end of high school I knew I wanted to be a pre-medical student at a faith-based liberal arts college. I was aware of Calvin’s strong reputation in the sciences and was curious to learn more. I toured Calvin and was very impressed by the spacious campus, state-of-the-art laboratory spaces, and the expertise of the pre-medical advisors. I was also won over by the hospitality of students and faculty! I am very grateful I chose Calvin for its academic excellence and Christian mission.
What was most beneficial about your time at Calvin?
Rachel: By far the most beneficial thing about my time at Calvin was the relationships I formed. Despite living in Florida, I’ve been able to see friends from Calvin every year. I still keep in touch with some of my professors as well.
Adily: What stood out the most was the smaller class sizes that allowed for more one-on-one [interaction] with my professors. Coupled with the rigorousness of courses, I felt that I was given the tools to be successful at the next level in my educational career. The caliber of my experience at Calvin illustrated its strength and support during my medical school training.
Samuel: The community! I benefited immensely from the curiosity and diverse perspectives of fellow students alongside the thoughtful guidance of professors. The vigorous pursuit of knowledge, grounded in faith, pushed me to ask questions, seek answers, and understand the world God made in new and deeper ways. To this day, many of my closest friends are Calvin grads who continue to bring that same faithful, inquisitive, community-minded perspective to life.
Share about your journey to medical school.
Rachel: I knew I wanted to take a gap year (that turned into two) before medical school because I was interested in traveling. I got connected with Serge, a mission agency, and joined a medical missions team in Burundi, East Africa for nine months. I taught middle school math and science to the missionary kids and shadowed in the hospital during my free time. When I returned to the states, I worked as a scribe in the emergency department while I applied to medical school. In February, after not seeing the sun for months in Michigan, I interviewed at the University of Florida and it was sunny and 70 degrees. I also liked that the program emphasizes humanism in medicine.
Samuel: I had a strong medical school application due to the experiences and education I had at Calvin. I also knew I wanted to move closer to home for medical school, if possible, so the University of Washington was at the top of my list. Location wasn’t the only reason—the UW School of Medicine has a reputation for excellent clinical education and extensive regional influence, so I was eager to train at such a prestigious program. After a pleasant interview day and a lot of fervent hoping, I was accepted into UW! Looking back, the past four years have been a wonderful and challenging time of personal and professional development. Now I am looking forward to spending the formative years of residency at UW!
How did you choose your specialty?
Rachel: As a very hands-on person, I knew I wanted to go into a procedural field. I also knew I wanted to practice in the hospital setting, not in an outpatient clinic. To me, anesthesiology has the perfect mix of pharmacology and physiology. Patients are often nervous, so anesthesiologists have the privilege of quickly establishing rapport and comforting them.
Adily: I have always been a curious learner; asking questions about the fundamental way things work allows me to gain a deeper understanding and mastery of complex concepts. This approach has served as guidance throughout my educational journey. I was drawn to internal medicine because it's a specialty that applies scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis and treatment of complex illnesses. Furthermore, this is coupled with compassionate bedside care, interprofessional collaboration, and shared decision-making with every patient. These core principles have resonated with me because I have a passion for learning and deeply connecting with patients, and I’m constantly reminding myself that treating the person is more important than the disease.
Samuel: I absolutely love working with kids! During my time at Calvin I volunteered at a local elementary school as a tutor and mentor, which quickly made me realize that I wanted a career dedicated to the wellbeing of kids. In medical school, my favorite rotations were my pediatric rotations! I enjoy interacting with families and working alongside such warm-hearted and dedicated colleagues.
What are you looking forward to about residency?
Rachel: In residency, I am both excited for and apprehensive of the enormous responsibility of caring for my patients more independently than I have before. It feels like I will finally be able to do what I went to school for after years of learning from the sidelines. I am also looking forward to getting to know my co-residents.
Adily: I am looking forward to learning the art of medicine while working alongside compassionate doctors and nurses to provide exceptional care to my patients. I knew Case Western would provide the clinical experience and academic rigor in becoming a consummate clinician.
Samuel: I am very excited to launch into residency at UW/Seattle Children’s! I am looking forward to joining the hard-working and compassionate community at UW/SCH, achieving greater continuity with kids and families across the three years of residency, and sharing the intense and rewarding experiences of residency (in other words, the laughter and the tears) with my co-residents.