Biology Honors Program Grad Researches Barriers to Children’s Healthcare Prior to Moving on to LECOM Med School
Matt Sanchez graduated from Seton Hill University in Spring 2021 with a biology degree with honors and a guaranteed seat in the medical school at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM). But before he started at Seton Hill, he didn’t know anything about the university or its Honors Program.
“I committed to Seton Hill before I even set foot on campus,” said Sanchez, who chose Seton Hill based on the financial aid package. “I just had a feeling that this was the school I was meant to attend. That was completely confirmed when I took a tour here, and I felt totally at home.”
Sanchez majored in biology because he knew he wanted a career in the medical field. Seton Hill offers an Osteopathic Medicine Collaborative Degree Program with LECOM. Being part of the LECOM Program meant that Sanchez was guaranteed a seat at LECOM’s medical school as long as he met certain criteria as an undergraduate student.
Similarly to choosing Seton Hill, osteopathic medicine was something that I almost ‘fell into’ as opposed to making a conscious decision to pursue,” Sanchez said. “This ended up being another blessing in my life as I have come to love the osteopathic perspective to medicine."
LECOM, based in Erie, Pa., has a branch on Seton Hill’s campus, where Sanchez has been attending classes since summer 2021.
“I chose to stay at Seton Hill because I fell in love with Greensburg during my time in undergrad and I would love to possibly work in the Pittsburgh/Greensburg areas in the future,” he says.
"I hope that my future patients are comfortable talking to me so that I am able to offer them the best healthcare possible. I believe that my time at Seton Hill has definitely helped that goal become more attainable."
Sanchez hopes to find a career as either a family physician or pediatrician. “No matter the exact specialty I enter, I would like to create long-lasting relationships with my patients and be a figure in the community.”
Sanchez credits his experience at Seton Hill with defining what he wants his career in medicine to look like.
“At Seton Hill, I was able to experience what a true community is and see people working in that community to help others,” he said. “The leaders I have seen at Seton Hill have set such a good example for the kind of leader I would like to be in my future career. I hope that my future patients are comfortable talking to me so that I am able to offer them the best healthcare possible. I believe that my time at Seton Hill has definitely helped that goal become more attainable.”
Sanchez also experienced a leadership community within the Honors Program at Seton Hill. Honors students take rigorous liberal arts courses, designed to make them take intellectual risks and ethically engage in their communities. As part of the Honors Program, students must also complete their own independent research project and present it in the form of the Honors Capstone before graduation.
“At first, I wasn’t sure what the program entailed, but I am so glad I chose to accept the spot,” Sanchez said. “I credit the Honors Program with my success in undergrad. I enjoyed the smaller style classes that relied on discussion more so than the other liberal arts courses that are required for every student. I appreciated having to think deeper about certain topics as it was great practice for the ethical decision making that I know I will have to do as a future physician.”
Sanchez’s Honors Capstone project involved researching the fears that children have when going to the doctor and offering solutions to help remove barriers to children’s healthcare.
“I loved the opportunity to engage myself in that topic, and I was lucky enough to speak to the students at the Child Development Center to get their perspective and present my research to them,” he said.
In addition to the biology major and the Honors Program, Sanchez said Seton Hill was a great fit because it allowed him the opportunity to explore his other interests and provided him with a reliable laptop throughout his undergraduate education.
“In addition to my degree in biology, I was able to minor in music performance and continue growing in one of my biggest passions while also making great friends and memories during that time,” he said. “And Seton Hill’s Distinguished Apple School status was a great help in my undergraduate education. I had no idea about what laptop to buy for college, and I was so happy with the MacBook I received. I believe that this program helps Seton Hill students get the most out of their education. It sure did for me.”