Kylie Brenny ’25, Baxter, Minnesota
Major/Minors: Biology (pre-med); Chemistry, Spanish

Please tell us about yourself.

I am a junior here at Concordia on the pre-medicine track. I like to keep myself busy on campus, and I have found myself involved in many of our campus organizations. I am the lead of the Campus Events Commission (CEC), one of the executive members of our Health Professions Interest Club (HPIC), a Resident Assistant (RA), as well as a member of the Student Government Association (SGA). I am always looking for new opportunities, and I recently participated in a two-month program where I shadowed medical professionals in hospitals in Italy and Spain.

How did you hear about Concordia and why did you choose to attend college here?

I heard about Concordia from one of my neighbors back home. After touring the college and learning more about Concordia’s strong premedical program, I decided to attend.

How did you decide on your area of study?

I have been surrounded by healthcare my whole life. The human body is so complex, and it is extremely interesting to study its various systems and how those systems connect and influence each other. As for choosing to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, I find the additional training of being able to manipulate and heal the body with your hands incredibly fascinating and valuable, which may stem from my many years as a dancer.

Do you have a favorite course or professor at Concordia and why?

I do not think I can name my favorite professor. I have truly enjoyed every professor I have had at Concordia, and each one is amazing in their own way. If I were to have a favorite class, it would have to be my first-year inquiry seminar, In Search of Home, with Professor Twomey. I was able to have conversations with immigrants and refugees living in Moorhead and learn their stories. It was an extremely impactful course.

What activities are you involved in?

In addition to the on-campus activities I previously mentioned (CEC, HPIC, RA, SGA), I also work as a Direct Support Professional at CCRI and volunteer at various Fargo-Moorhead community service organizations.

Can you tell us about the shadowing program you participated in?

I heard about the Atlantis shadowing program from a neighbor of mine who had done it herself. The application process consisted of submitting an application and later interviewing with an Atlantis alum. During the program, I spent three weeks in each city (Genoa, Italy, and Merida, Spain), and each week I would shadow a different specialty. The doctors and other professionals were all extremely kind even though I was not always able to converse with all of them due to the language barrier. I would shadow in the hospital Monday through Thursday for approximately five hours with Fridays being reserved for cultural excursions to experience the country. In total, I was able to shadow thoracic surgery, urology, ophthalmology, neurosurgery, radiology, oncology, and orthopedic surgery. I would consider my experiences to be extremely valuable, and I had an amazing time!

What is your biggest takeaway from your time in the Atlantis program?

My biggest takeaway is the number of extraordinarily complex cases I was able to observe. I do not know if I would be allowed to experience similar cases in the United States. Even during surgery, the doctors were excited about teaching, and they wanted me to see and understand what they were doing at every moment. I experienced multiple neurosurgeries, oncology consultations, a pediatric esophagectomy, and much more. Throughout it all, the doctors were mindful of ensuring that I was understanding what was happening.

Even during surgery, the doctors were excited about teaching, and they wanted me to see and understand what they were doing at every moment.

What challenged you during the program and how did you overcome it?

It was challenging to be in a hospital abroad where the culture is quite different, especially because there are no pre-med students in Italy. Students go straight from high school into medical school so, for many doctors, it was challenging for them to understand why we were there. At the beginning of each rotation, I had to be extra engaging with the doctors so they could see that I was there to learn and interested in what they had to share. After asking many questions, doctors would come to understand, and they would begin to teach me about their specialty without prompting.

What is your favorite memory from your time spent in the program?

It was a common theme throughout the trip that, apart from the Italian neurosurgeons, almost none of the doctors in either country knew where Minnesota was. The interaction that stands out was when I attempted to teach the orthopedic surgeons in Spain where Minnesota is located. This was probably because they were insistent that they find it without my help. The first hurdle was distinguishing Washington state from Washington, D.C., as one believed Minnesota was by Washington. Ultimately, it took three surgeons, a map, and about 15 minutes of debate before they finally asked me to point out where my home state was.

What is your career goal?

My goal is to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Currently, I am thinking about specializing in pediatric oncology.

What do you value most about being a Cobber?

The connections are the things I most value about being a Cobber. Throughout my time on campus, I have made some amazing connections with my professors as well as with my peers. I have established friendships with some remarkable people during my time at Concordia. As a campus leader, I have made great connections with a variety of campus staff in the Office of Student Engagement, Career Center, Post Office, and Residence Life Office. The connections transcend outside campus as well. The alumni network that Concordia has is so strong; it has already had positive impacts on my future medical school career.

What advice would you give to a high school student who is considering Concordia?

I would encourage any student considering Concordia to step outside their comfort zones and say yes to the opportunities Concordia has to offer. There are so many fantastic experiences here — all offered by wonderful people who want to help you succeed. I have said yes to nearly every opportunity I have had the chance to take part in, and I can confidently say I have grown significantly because of each one.

Published October 2023