From: Saginaw Township
High school: Valley Lutheran High School
Future: Michigan State College of Human Medicine, M.D. program
Mackenzie Allen arrived at Saginaw Valley State University with her sights set on an academic path that would lead her to a profession helping bodies heal. The Saginaw Township native departs with her aspirations confirmed and her prospects bright thanks to a community-minded commitment to hands-on education.
The future physician will begin her studies at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine with more than two years of experience in a Saginaw hospital emergency room, thanks to an extraordinary experiential learning opportunity through SVSU.
Allen participated in SVSU's Medical Scribe program, an innovative partnership that pairs undergraduate students with physicians at Saginaw’s Covenant HealthCare. Allen, who graduated from SVSU with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry in May 2017, and other scribes assist the professionals with medical documentation.
“It’s been an incredible experience,” said Allen, a first-generation college student. “You get to see how doctors work and how they approach difficult situations. There are also the social aspects and basic medical processes we get to learn.”
The program involved a number of responsibilities, largely involving taking notes while doctors and nurses worked with patients. Allen also watched personnel perform medical procedures and assisted with gathering medical equipment.
“It definitely opens your eyes to the profession,” she said. “Going into college, you’re not as experienced in this world, but after being in the ER in downtown Saginaw for a certain amount of time, you see what people are dealing with.”
Filled with a spirit of servant leadership, the experience solidified Allen’s ambition to become a doctor, which dates back to her fascination with human anatomy studies at Valley Lutheran High School.
“There were situations that shook me, with some of the patients having harsh backgrounds and not many resources when they came in,” she said. “A lot of people are at their lowest moments there. I just want to try to make their care better, and steer them in the right direction.”
It’s an outlook such as that one that gives Heidi Lang, SVSU’s pre-health professions advisor, confidence that Allen possesses the qualities necessary to excel in the health care industry.
“Kenzie has great attention to detail as well as an intrinsic motivation to learn, to grow, and to improve,” Lang said.
“She has been a tremendous asset to SVSU, participating in multiple student organizations, volunteering and working in local health care settings, and excelling in her studies.”
Lang was impressed with the Allen's commitment to being a worldly health care worker. Allen’s academic minor was Spanish, and she used the second language during an internship with Saginaw-based Great Lakes Bay Health.
In the summer of 2016, Allen helped workers with the community health care center provide medical check-ups for Spanish migrants working in Michigan for the summer.
“A team of us would drive out to the farms where they were working and make sure they were getting the resources they needed,” she said. “Some of them needed help, and we were there for them.”
Lang said Allen was an outstanding undergraduate with great potential as a prospective physician.
“She will be missed, but we look forward to following her journey,” Lang said.
It is a demanding journey, to be sure, but Lang and others are convinced Allen has what it takes and that she will be motivated by her desire to lead a life filled with caring for others.