I grew up not knowing that a school like Stanford would ever be an option. But I've also been passionate about health inequities since I was a child. The beautiful thing, though, is that lightweight rowing didn't just get me to Stanford as an athlete -- I and everyone else on the team were always student-athletes and we had a sport that added to rather than detracted from our education. I also never would have thought that I could be a physician -- but it's no coincidence that more than 80% of our lightweight varsity boat now holds doctorates, mostly MDs but also PhDs and JDs. Equally powerfully, the sense of belonging and friendship I got from being on that team allowed me to feel at home in an otherwise often isolating and intimidatingly prestigious institution. I feel that I am now the confident, dream-seeking adult I am today, able to improve health disparities and health access as I'd always hoped to, in part because of the doors that lightweight rowing opened up as well as the lifelong friendships that grew from it.
-Katherine Heflin, Class of 2011