Alyssa Welle ‘19, Biochemistry

Posted on November 9th, 2017 by

From a very young age, Alyssa Welle was a self-proclaimed math and science fanatic, constantly wanting to dig deeper into a world of possibility. She recalls sitting in the bathtub, pondering the existence and meaning of negative numbers. As she continued her education,  she found that it was her AP Biology class in tenth grade that truly solidified her passion for biology. “It’s just a never ending field,” she said, adding that “you’re never going to run out of things to discover.” Alyssa is a biochemistry major and pre-medicine student here at Gustavus, and is passionate about pursuing her future vocation as an OB/Gyn doctor. Additionally, Alyssa intends to move elsewhere in the world to provide healthcare for women in developing countries, saying “I want to offer women the proper health care that they need, and to help them have safe babies and raise safe families.”

Alyssa’s experiences have shaped her purpose and her passion. One powerful experience that solidified her beliefs occurred during her Religion and Ecology class last fall, when she watched raw footage of the Greek coast guard rescuing Syrian refugees from lifeboats. The footage impacted her deeply. She described seeing “people screaming for their mom, people screaming for their babies… people overboard, not looking alive..” In the aftershock of this experience, Alyssa decided that a great deal of policy needs to change so that this situation can improve. Although her passion is not in policy, she wants to make a difference in other ways, saying that her “heart is in science and medicine. I tried to think about what I could do to make a difference with that situation, and it lies in going to areas of conflict and caring for those people.”

The injustice and inequality found in the medical sector also motivates Alyssa’s drive for change. “I could go anywhere and receive any healthcare I need, and these people can’t,” she reflected. As someone who holds compassion and service as deeply rooted values, Alyssa hopes to help combat this global inequity in the healthcare field by pursuing her vocation as an OB/Gyn. An empathetic, caring and determined individual, Alyssa is an ideal individual to carry out this role in the world. Her mom, one of her closest friends, as well as her youth director, Katie, agree as well: Alyssa’s nature and values put her in a wonderful position to serve the common good through medicine.

In terms of her Christian faith, Alyssa described how her ultimate purpose is to love others “the way I think Jesus would love them.” It’s her biggest goal, and she’s constantly striving to love individuals at a deeper level, regardless of their identity and actions. Her church also is deeply invested in the mission of spreading love and loving all individuals. As an example, Alyssa connected the story from the Bible of children coming to see Jesus, but being turned away by the disciples, to the current travel ban in this country. She feels that as a follower of Jesus, she is called to love and welcome everyone regardless of what they’ve done or who they are. She is engaging with current political and social situations with compassion informed by her faith.

When asked about aspects of science that frighten her as a Christian, Alyssa mentioned climate change, saying that “God gave us one planet and we’re screwing it up.” Alyssa finds it upsetting when Christian followers deny climate change or regard it as ‘something that God will take care of.’ She’s also has spent a long time engaging in the long-standing debate between creation and evolution. Alyssa’s understanding is that both have occurred, saying “I don’t think God would call Charles Darwin to defy him in his work and show that God’s not real. God gave us a purpose to pursue our passions and God wouldn’t give someone a passion that would send them to hell.” She’s moved from a completely literal interpretation of the Bible to a more metaphorical interpretation that allows for creation and evolution to both fit into the picture, complementing each other. Alyssa referenced that the evidence for evolution is there, bringing up fossils and their evidence of morphological changes. However, she’s found a deeper understanding of evolution based on both her faith and scientific passions. The way she sees it, “evolution happened, but God obviously had a hand in it, just as God has a hand in everything.” Throughout this growth and the process of questioning, Alyssa struggled, but she ultimately sees these questions as part of coming of age and maturing.

When asked how her faith and vocation interact, Alyssa described the way in which her love for others, which is rooted in her faith, informs her vocation in which she can love others through her actions as a doctor. She recounted her internship at Hennepin County Medical Center, and how the OB/Gyn doctors there serve and advocate for people who are marginalized and oppressed in our society, saying that “they would go out of their way in order to help people who can’t [help themselves], and their compassion was amazing.” For Alyssa and the role models and doctors she looks up to, it’s about not turning anyone away, but instead to build a relationship in which doctor and patient can rely on one another. Regardless of the circumstance, Alyssa’s values, passions, and faith lead her to not turn anyone away.

 

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