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Desire to help others leads graduate to career in public service

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

Andrew Dickson wearing a lab coat, blue button down shirt, and striped blue, green, and white bowtie.

Andrew Dickson has always had a desire to serve his community and make the world a better place. This has been a key driver in his educational and career path which led him from Cleveland State University to medical school to the U.S. Air Force.

While in high school, Dickson got the opportunity to volunteer at a local hospital, witnessing first-hand the health care needs of the community, which inspired him to make medicine a career. 

Dickson, who was a Presidential Student Ambassador and served as president of the organization at CSU, initially entered Cleveland State as a physician assistant major. He eventually decided that he really wanted to be a doctor and switched to pre-med his junior year, ultimately deciding to go into osteopathic medicine.

“At first I really didn’t think I had the academic chops to do pre-med, but I really liked my science and health classes at CSU and did very well,” Dickson says. “With the support of my professors and advisors I decided that I should really push myself and go after what I really wanted which was to be a doctor of osteopathy.”

Not that the decision came without some challenges. Due to transferring into pre-med later in his undergraduate career, Dickson needed additional academic preparation to get ready for the MCATs, the standardized tests required for admittance into most medical schools. So he decided to take some time off after graduation from CSU to focus on test preparation and prepare his med school applications.

“My pre-med advisor at CSU, Brittany Wampler, was extraordinarily helpful in planning out my last two years academically, while also giving me a good sense of what additional work I needed to put in to get ready for the application process,” Dickson adds.

While studying for the MCATs, Dickson did not stay idle though. He applied and was accepted to the AmeriCorps Program, spending two years as a community health worker in Cleveland. In that role, He mentored local high school students as they identified health disparities in their communities, designed projects to address these disparities, and wrote grants to obtain funding. As his tenure with AmeriCorps finished up, Dickson was accepted into Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, beginning his studies in the fall of 2017.

His work in AmeriCorps also furthered Dickson’s interest in public service, leading him to apply and eventually be accepted into the U.S. Air Force’s Health Profession’s Scholarship program. Through this initiative, he will receive scholarship support and military training while still in med school, entering the Air Force as an officer after graduation.

“My previous service work really showed me the power individuals can have in making society better and I saw the military as a perfect opportunity to enhance the positive impact I can have as a doctor and community health professional,” Dickson adds.

He also hopes that his slightly unconventional path to medicine serves as an inspiration for current and future students looking to follow their dreams.

“I am proof that you don’t have to follow a straight-line path to get your dream job. With hard work and determination you can achieve your goals.” 


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