Our Stories

Lisa OakleyLisa Oakley

Lisa Oakley: Fill your own prescription.

What's the most direct route to a career as a doctor? That's easy: Simply major in philosophy, minor in chemistry, and serve as president of the Outdoors Club and co-president of Wulapalooza, our annual celebration of the arts.

And in your spare time, keep rehearsing your parts as an alto and mezzo-soprano for the Willamette Singers while you're busy planning a concert tour of South Africa as vice president of the Chamber Choir.

Lisa Oakley did all of the above, and she says Willamette opened all the doors. "If you have passion and drive, you'll end up in a leadership position at Willamette, no matter what your passion may be," says Oakley. "Willamette has so many different opportunities that sometimes it's hard to know when to dig deeper or when to let someone else lead."

So what led her to major in philosophy even though she plans on being a doctor? You can blame our Mode of Inquiry (MOI) requirements for that. All of our students have to take a broad range of courses that reflect different ways of thinking - and sometimes one class is all it takes to set students on a different path.

"If it weren't for the MOI, I never would have taken a philosophy class," says Oakley. "I was planning on majoring in biology when I got here, but I took a philosophy course as an MOI and just fell in love with it. I decided to do that as a major and take the science classes I needed to get into med school. I've been interested in medicine a long time; I'm just going about it in a different way."

Oakley intends to gain some experience in a clinic or hospital before attending medical school full time, and her long-term goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of women as an ob-gyn specialist. Willamette is the place where she narrowed her focus to the field of obstetrics and gynecology. And Willamette is the place where she felt free to pursue her goals her own way. "There is a strong sense here that women are powerful, intelligent and can accomplish anything," says Oakley. "I think that would spark anyone's career plans."