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Wrestling vs. Brown Credit: Thomas Munson , Thomas Munson

For all of Penn’s student-athletes, there exists a never-ending struggle between athletic and academic commitments. The University’s new Pre-Med Health Athlete Society looks to help students handle that lifestyle and pursue their intended medical-based careers through internships and networking.

Since its founding in November 2013 by then-sophomores Alex Agathis, a field hockey midfielder, and Kelsey Hay, a javelin thrower, PMHAS has experienced steady growth, with over 75 active members and more than 50 alumni in its database. The duo founded the society after agreeing that the medical community was not well represented at student-athlete-geared alumni mentoring programs.

Agathis and Hay set off to form their own group that concentrates specifically on fulfilling the requirements to pursue further education in health, be it through medical, nursing, veterinary, dental or other health-based programs. As they say in their mission statement, “we will promote awareness about the rigorous demands associated with fulfilling the role of a scholar athlete while pursuing a future in healthcare.”

In order to go about this, the club offers several events each month. PMHAS’ general board meetings feature discussions with questions and answers specifically geared towards pursuing a career in healthcare. Moreover, PMHAS has invited alumni to return to Penn and speak to members about the paths they took after their careers as student-athletes at Penn wrapped up.

Hay is proud of the society’s ability to bring back alumni from various stages in their careers.

“We’ve had everyone from [former Director of the Alumni Board at Penn Medical School Lou Kozloff] who has a scholarship named after him here at Penn Med to an alumnus [Ryan Carey] who was a Penn athlete here [in 2013],” she said.

Kozloff, a 1965 College graduate, is the society’s most prestigious presenter to date. After initially intending to play basketball at Penn before going to medical school, Kozloff wound up swimming for the Quakers in addition to his basketball play. In the pool, Kozloff qualifed for nationals in four events in which he finished in the top 10 in the nation.

He would go on to matriculate at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and be named Penn Med School’s alumni board chairman. On top of that, he was inducted into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000 and is one of the benefactors of the Kozloff/Anderson Scholarship for Penn student-athletes who matriculate to the medical school.

One of PMHAS’ senior members, senior wrestler Brooks Martino, found Kozloff’s story interesting because the former swimmer had to juggle the same commitments as current student-athletes, albeit in a different era. Hay, similarly, found the alumni’s participation to be insightful.

“For them to give us their first-hand account of [their path] is really helpful,” she said.

Also important to PMHAS’ mission is to provide underclassmen with the resources they need to pursue a career in a variety of health-related fields. The club’s mentor-mentee program affords newer students the opportunity to learn from their peers who have advanced in their pursuits.

Martino finds that this practice has helped student-athletes, especially his fellow wrestlers.

“They’ve really taken to this whole process of finding someone who’s already been through the entire process or is going through but is at a further step than you and latching onto them and looking for advice,” he said.

Although PMHAS was founded only recently, its mission and initial success tell of a very successful networking and experience-sharing program.

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