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As the Class of 2021 now heads off to begin their professional careers, two members are challenging the idea that the liberal arts are not useful for STEM careers. New alumni Julia Brezinsky and Aedan Tsakanikas are both actively pursuing nursing and surgeon careers after gaining acceptance to programs for this fall. Together, they are set to join a growing group of alumni in the medical field, helping to bring a balanced point of view, grounded in faith, into modern medicine.

Christendom alumni have taken their liberal arts background into medical careers since the early days of the college. From nurses, like Joby Norton (’10), Angelica Cintorino (‘14), and Tess Sciscilo (’07), to doctors, like John-Paul Jansen (’00), and to surgeons, like John English (’06), these alumni have proven again and again that philosophy, English language and literature, and history degrees, along with the rest of the liberal arts, set alumni up well for careers in medicine.

Brezinsky heard about this fact during her time at the college, which helped propel her on to eventually applying and gaining acceptance to an accelerated nursing program post-graduation.

Alumna Julia Brezinsky (middle).

“The past four years of arduous studying has enabled me to accept and tackle any academic challenge, especially an accelerated bachelor’s degree,” says Brezinsky, who majored in philosophy. “I believe that I will be able to draw from all of my classes while studying nursing. The wide variety of classes have not only expanded my knowledge of their subject matter, but have taught me to critically think, to problem solve, and most importantly how to have a balanced view of reality and a holistic view of the individual person. These classes, grounded in the faith, will aid me to face any challenges that I may encounter in the medical field.”

During her time at Christendom, Brezinsky received encouragement and aid from numerous professors as she worked towards going into nursing following graduation. Dr. Aileen Foeckler, who teaches biology, anatomy and physiology courses at the college, was especially helpful to Brezinsky.

“The faculty have always shown an interest in all of the students plans for post-graduation,” says Brezinsky. “Dr. Foeckler in particular has been a pillar of encouragement for me to pursue my passion of nursing. Without fail she was always happy to write numerous letters of recommendation for my applications to different nursing schools.”

After receiving a scholarship, Brezinsky will be a part of George Washington University’s Accelerated Nursing Program beginning this fall. Following an intense fifteen months, she will walk away with a Bachelor’s in Nursing, ready to begin helping patients wherever she ultimately serves.

Meanwhile, Tsakanikas will be studying at Des Moines University, taking part in the Podiatric Medicine and Surgery Program on a four-year renewable scholarship in pursuit of a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree. Tsakanikas, who majored in history, ultimately wants to become a foot and ankle surgeon and believes his time at Christendom set him up for success in the field.

Alumnus Aedan Tsakanikas (far right) with his family.

“A major part was the critical thinking in the liberal arts curriculum,” says Tsakanikas. “No, I am not saying that to be cliche, but after three years, I found evidence in the real world of the critical thinking skills I learned. The evidence was found in my MCAT score. I scored in the top ten percent on the Critical Reasoning and Thinking section.”

As he discerned his vocation and ultimately began his pursuit of becoming a surgeon, Tsakanikas turned to the college’s career office and the faculty for help. Tsakanikas, like all Christendom students, was given a free subscription to LinkedIn Learning for the entirety of his time at the college, which helped him gain key interview skills that set him apart from his peers.

“The career office emphasized making connections,” recalls Tsakanikas. “[Thanks to] LinkedIn Learning, I learned interview skills which not only made me standout from graduate school applicants but from candidates for jobs I was offered in college. Regarding the faculty, they have helped immensely with not only recommendation letters, but also how to research, present, and write clearly. Being educated well enough to graduate with a medical degree before I am 25 is rare and something I am blessed with.”

Over the past nearly 44 years, Christendom graduates have been successful in many branches of medicine, from nursing to anesthesiology. Their careers prove that medical professionals with a liberal arts background excel in their field because they understand the human person as both body and soul, allowing them to give their patients the best care possible.

Alumni Anne-Marie King, Joby Norton, and Joelle Jansen are all nurses at Fairfax Hospital.

With their liberal arts degrees now in hand, Brezinsky and Tsakanikas are ready to take the next step in their journeys. As they look back on their time at the college, they are grateful for the foundation it laid for their futures.

“I believe that my time at Christendom has helped me to grow as an individual in countless ways,” concludes Brezinsky. “From the academic life, to the spiritual life to the social life on campus, I have fostered a strong foundation in my faith that will enable me to restore all things in Christ wherever my career may lead me.”

To read more about the Class of 2021 are their plans post-graduation, visit here.

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