Liberal Arts in Health Care Professions Symposium
Friday–Saturday, Feb. 7–8, 2014
A Grinnellink Event

About the Symposium

Grinnell College offers a remarkable foundation for students aspiring to careers in the health care professions, whether as nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, mental health counselors, health educators, physicians, dentists, or as members of any number of other allied professions.

This symposium will expand current students’ views about the wide diversity of possible health-related careers. Ten alumni, representing a variety of health-related professions, will articulate the challenges and opportunities associated with careers in health care for liberal arts graduates. They will engage with the campus community through panel discussions, one-on-one meetings, shared meals, and networking opportunities. Business attire is expected.

Symposium Schedule

Friday, February 7, 2014, Grinnell House

8:00–9:00 pm Dessert reception for students with alumni guests

Saturday, February 8, 2014, Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center 101

9:00–10:30 am Panel A (see biographies below)

10:30–10:45 am Break

10:45 am–12:15 pm Panel B (see biographies below)

12:30–2:30 pm Lunch & networking

Throughout the day: Individual appointments. Students may call the CLS at (641) 269-4940 to arrange 30-minute appointments with individual alumni for the morning or afternoon of Saturday, February 8.

Alumni Biographies

Panel A: Saturday, February 8, 9:00–10:30 am, JRC 101

Dr. Vidya Chande ’82 (biology major): Medical director, Pediatric Emergency Department, Blank Children’s Hospital, Des Moines, IA

I have spent my career advocating for children through my work in pediatric emergency medicine. I am also committed to educating future physicians and have worked with medical students, residents, and fellows throughout my career. After completing medical school (University of Iowa) and a residency and fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (University of Pittsburgh), I returned to Iowa in 2000 to become medical director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. We provide to care to children with a wide range of illness and injury, and we also serve as a resource to the surrounding rural communities. I work with an interesting variety of patients and families who seek care in our Emergency Department. I am also involved in injury prevention efforts, because injuries are the number one killer of our children. I have been the recipient of several grants that support research in injury prevention and am involved with community and national efforts in keeping our kids safe.

My husband and I raised two sons, now young adults. One of our sons graduated from Grinnell College in 2011, so my connection to the campus was renewed while he was student.

Dr. Laura Ferguson ’90 (art major): Physician, Family Medicine, P.C., Grinnell, IA

A Grinnell native, I graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in studio art in 1990. In 1995 I received my M.D. degree from the University of Iowa College of Medicine, after which I completed a family medicine residency at North Iowa Mercy Hospital in Mason City, IA, serving as chief resident during my third year. After graduation from residency, I joined my father, David Ferguson, M.D., in practice in Grinnell. My practice encompasses a full range of family medicine, including obstetrics and pediatrics. I served as president of the Grinnell Regional Medical Center medical staff from 2001 to 2003, am currently the GRMC OB Committee Chair, and serve as the Level 1 Representative to the Statewide Perinatal Recommendations Committee. I am also a member of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees and the Grinnell Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees. I have served on the Grinnell College Social Justice Prize Selection Committee for the past 3 years. My two amazing children are Kate (16) and Sam (12); and my hobbies include bicycling, gardening, cooking, and reading—in addition to avidly following the activities of my children.

Dr. Ian Lin ’88 (biology major): Orthopedic surgeon, Des Moines Orthopaedic Surgeons, Des Moines, IA

After graduating from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1992, I accepted an orthopedic residency in Charlotte, NC. I spent five years in residency at Carolinas Medical Center (graduating in 1997) before accepting a position at Des Moines Orthopedic Surgeons. I specialize in total joint replacements of the hip and knee and sports medicine.

I am very active in baseball in Des Moines, coaching several teams the last several years. I am currently the fall and spring league coach for the varsity and sophomore baseball teams for Roosevelt High School in addition to my coaching duties for my 7-year-old son’s competitive baseball team. I am passionate about sports photography, kayaking, piano and raising my five children (ages 17, 17, 15, 11, and 7).

My job demands can be extensive but controllable, allowing me to arrange my schedule to accommodate my many obligations. I love the fact that my position as an orthopedic surgeon allows me to care for people of all age groups. Nothing is more satisfying than getting to know patients and knowing that they trust you enough to send their family members to you as well.

Mr. Jon Royal ’70 (political science major): Owner, Center for Health and Harmony, Des Moines, IA

I am a teacher and Master Practitioner of Unlimited Body and Unlimited Breath. After graduating from Grinnell in 1970—and a brief stint in the Army Reserves—I spent nine years as a counselor and administrator in corrections and substance abuse treatment. Fed up with the bureaucracy, I changed careers and spent the next fifteen years working in the financial services industry, becoming a Certified Financial Planner and operating my own financial planning firm.

My insatiable drive to better understand people and how to help them achieve their potential spurred me into more personal introspection and self-discovery. While operating my financial planning firm, I began studying numerous systems of healing, personal development, and spirituality; working with healers and teachers from Australia, Bali, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Tibet, and the United States. My growing knowledge and interest in the areas of personal development and holistic health led me to sell my financial planning practice in 1995 and become a Holistic Practitioner and Life Coach.

Dr. Kenneth Talbert ’76 (biology major): Chair, Department of Ophthalmology, McFarland Clinic, Ames, IA

I have had an interesting, fulfilling, and unpredicted life. After graduating from Grinnell and completing an M.S. in agronomy at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, I attended the University of Minnesota Medical School on a United States Air Force scholarship, graduating in 1982. I interned in general surgery and completed a three-year residency in ophthalmology at Rush University in Chicago. I fulfilled my scholarship obligation by serving for four years as an ophthalmologist at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. In 1990, my wife and I moved our family (then including two young children) back to my hometown of Ames to join McFarland Clinic. In my twenty-four years back in Ames, I have built a busy surgical and clinical practice and served on the board of directors of Iowa’s largest physician-owned medical group (185 physicians). I presently serve as a physician recruiter for all specialties in the clinic and as chair of the Department of Ophthalmology.

My personal life has been enriched by two daughters and two step-sons, punctuated by a divorce and remarriage, and enhanced by many amazing adventures—including ones to the top of Kilimanjaro and Devils Tower. Beginning in 2007, I have been passionately engaged in recovery from alcoholism. I enjoy travel, gardening, and collecting ancient Roman coins and stamps of the world. I spend a good deal of time watching TED talks; studying Learning Company courses; and reading the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Panel B: Saturday, February 8, 10:45 am–12:15 pm, JRC 101

Dr. Matthew Croco ’97 (biology major): Orthodontist and owner, Croco Orthodontics, Coralville and Mt. Pleasant, IA

I completed all my dental training at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, earning a D.D.S. in 2002, an Advanced Education in General Dentistry certificate in 2003, and an M.S. in orthodontics in 2005. During residency, while exploring practice options, it soon became clear that, in order to stay in the Iowa City area (which my wife and I wanted to do), I would have to open my own practice. With the help of colleagues and friends, I learned all I could about starting a business, designing a dental office, purchasing dental equipment, and hiring staff. I opened Croco Orthodontics in Coralville in July 2005 with one staff member. The first few years were slow, but the practice began growing steadily. I recently opened a brand new office in Mt. Pleasant and now have eight staff working with me.

I love my job, and I love going to work every day. I am blessed to have a fulfilling career that I truly enjoy. I find my job challenging yet rewarding. I enjoy working with children, teenagers, and adults alike and seeing the positive transformation we can provide them. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family (including my three children, ages 5 to 10), anything Hawkeye-related, and obstacle course racing.

Ms. Julia Cross ’94 (art major): Nurse midwife, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN

I loved my science classes in high school but spent most of my time at Grinnell in the Art Department, specifically the ceramics studio. During these contemplative and creative times, I was filled with memories of my travels in East Africa as well as my interest in health care for women. As many ceramic sculptures of female pregnant torsos took shape, so did a decision to pursue a career as a nurse midwife. A program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, provided me with a nursing education that combined a basic nursing curriculum with a master’s degree in nurse midwifery. In 2001, six months after graduating from Case Western, I took a job as a staff nurse midwife at Hennepin County Medical Center. This large hospital in downtown Minneapolis welcomes an average of 2,000 babies a year, and about 750 of those are delivered into the hands of nurse midwives. At HCMC I have been thrilled to care for many women from East Africa—as well as some good friends and neighbors!

Ms. Katherine Jones ’10 (history major): Health education specialist, Linn County Public Health, Cedar Rapids, IA

I was a history major at Grinnell, graduating in 2010. In addition to completing the pre-med requirements, I participated in such student groups as the Feminist Action Coalition. My interest in medicine and social justice drew me to the multidisciplinary field of public health. In 2012 I received a master’s of public health in community and behavioral health from the University of Iowa College of Public Health. During graduate school, I volunteered as a sexual assault victim advocate and worked at the Iowa Cancer Consortium and College of Public Health. After graduating, I began working at Linn County Public Health in Cedar Rapids. As a health education specialist, I manage and implement grants, collaborate with organizations and individuals on coalitions, write reports, and analyze data. I work to create lasting systems, including initiating environment- and policy-level changes, to improve community health. I am interested in many topics, including chronic disease prevention, sexual health, and health disparities.

Ms. Kun-Hong Lu ’95 (sociology major): Psychotherapist in private practice, Grinnell, IA

I was a sociology major at Grinnell, graduating in 1995. At Grinnell I connected with my desire to ease human suffering. I obtained master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan in 1998. I then worked in San Francisco for seven years, providing counseling and case management services in community mental health settings. In 2006 I moved back to Grinnell, where I initially worked as a therapist at the Poweshiek County Mental Health Center. I have been in private practice since June 2008.

My career in mental health is deeply satisfying and fulfilling. I see counseling as a powerful way to facilitate healing and connection with our innermost strengths, clarity, wisdom, and joy. I enjoy the independence and flexibility of private practice and appreciate being a student of life through service. I am passionate about family life with my husband Jeff and daughters Sofia (9) and Lily (19 months). I enjoy practicing tai chi and aikido, photography, gardening, and teaching qi gong.

Ms. Rania Robb ’03 (chemistry major): Child life specialist, Bondurant, IA

I always knew I wanted to have a career in medicine, but the traditional career paths didn’t quite fit my passion. I love working with children and families, establishing relations, and helping to make a difference in stressful times. So I went back to school after graduating from Grinnell for the additional classes I needed in the field of child life and completed my internship at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX. My first job as a child life specialist found me starting a child life program in a neonatal intensive care unit—so I was lucky that my training in Houston included time in the neonatal ICU. Well, I loved this first job so much that I am still here, constantly working to improve the child life programming and educate others about this rewarding career. I was married before my senior year at Grinnell and am very fortunate my husband, Dolph Robb ’01, and I were able to make the additional schooling and training out of state work. We have been married for almost twelve years and have two daughters, ages 1 and 4.

Sponsored by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and the Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS).

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