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A Better Understanding of the World

Medical student Julia Dworsky talks about her Spanish major
August 4, 2020

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Julia Dworsky, BA '18, Spanish Studies

Julia Dworsky graduated in 2018 with a major in Spanish studies and a minor in neuroscience. She is now beginning medical school at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She started her studies at the University of Minnesota in 2014 and declared her Spanish major during her freshman year.  

“I started college with a good amount of credits,” she said, “and knew that I wanted to continue taking Spanish classes each semester, so it made the most sense for me to be a Spanish major.”  

For Julia, pursuing a degree in another language provided her with a life of constant learning, growth, and discovery. From seeking a language degree, she gained “the ability to think critically and holistically about the world from multiple perspectives, outside of [her] own familiar experiences."

“Language is a tool to communicate things that are meaningful, and there is so much more meaning in the world to be gained when you have a different language framework besides your own.” -Julia Dworsky (BA, '18)

She highlighted that studying Spanish had informally prepared her for medical school. “During orientation, professors often pointed out that starting medical school is like learning a second language. Studying languages... gives you the tools to transition smoothly into the challenges of a graduate program.”

Studying languages provided the tools to understand a culture outside of her own, and allowed her to step outside of her conception of the world. Language studies taught her about history, values, and perspectives. “Having this knowledge has helped me understand and work with people completely different from myself. Speaking a second language has provided me a way to connect with the world around me in a meaningful way.”

Her educational journey focused on the intersection of arts and sciences. Julia always felt maintaining a foundation of Spanish positively affected her goal of becoming a physician. Her senior thesis project about Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a famed Spanish neuroscientist credited with discovering the synapse, provided her with answers about this intersection. “[Santiago Ramón y Cajal] was also an incredibly talented artist, and I sought to prove that it was his perspective as an artist that allowed him to create these amazing radical breakthroughs.”

Julia's undergraduate education gave her skills that are beneficial in her medical studies—and beyond. “Being a Spanish speaker is a big aspect of my identity but it took me a long time to understand fully how my background will help me be a better physician. Through my studies in Spanish, I learned that having a connection to the humanities and art will serve me in this profession. Studying languages has taught me to think about the perspectives and experiences of others in addition to my own, and to look at the larger social, cultural, political, economic forces that affect a person’s life and health, which is an important mindset to have in being a good provider for all people."