Magellan Scholar Surfs Into New Career Path After Summer Internship

Created: June 23, 2016
Last Updated: July 9, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (June 23, 2016) – Elizabeth Klock ‘18 headed to Hawaii for her Magellan Project with a plan to study sports medicine and gain experience working in a medical field she hoped to pursue as a career.

The experience helped her discover a different future for herself as a psychologist rather than a medical doctor.

Klock, a psychology major and business administration minor from New Lenox, Ill., spent a month during the summer of 2015 shadowing Dr. Leland Dao, a sports medicine specialist and medical consultant for the World Surf League.

“At the time my career path was medicine so I wanted my Magellan to embody that,” said Klock. “In addition, I love to surf and am an avid fan of the World Surf League. I found a doctor who works with the World Surf League and sent him an email, not expecting anything in return. To my surprise, he said he would love to let me shadow him.”

She began researching medicine as it relates to surfing, including common injuries and treatments. While shadowing Dr. Dao, she got to see how he treated these injuries, including reef cuts, joint injuries and infections such as MRSA, as well as other diseases not necessarily related to surfing, such as skin cancer and lung issues.

Klock’s work in the doctor’s office showed her both the rewarding and the difficult sides of medicine. She said she was disappointed to realize that, in medicine, there often isn’t a straightforward solution; most appointments she witnessed ended in a referral to another doctor or a need for further visits. She also realized that Dr. Dao’s work didn’t end when the office door closed at the end of the day, and that the commitment required to provide quality care to patients would cut into family time.

Her experience in Hawaii was positive, and served to show her that her own life goals weren’t in line with the demands of a career she thought she wanted.

“Completing my Magellan helped me understand that I wasn’t cut out to be a doctor, but also that my passion is psychology. Also, experiencing the business side of the doctor’s office led me towards a more business-oriented career,” said Klock. “I am able to combine psychology and business into a career that excites me. Without this Magellan I would not have found my true interests, or who I really am. I might have still been headed for a profession that was not right for me.”

About the Magellan Project

Established in 2008, Washington & Jefferson College’s unique Magellan Project extends liberal arts learning outside the classroom by providing scholarship funding for students to spend the summer pursuing independent projects and internships in the United States and abroad. Learn more about the Magellan Project on the W&J website.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work.

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