Kat Dahl ’14: Stretching at Gustavus Leads to Success in Medical School

Posted on September 17th, 2015 by

Kat Dahl '14. (Photo credit: University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campusand photographer David Ballard)

Kat Dahl ’14. (Photo credit: University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus and photographer David Ballard)

Growing up as the daughter of a family practice physician in the small town of Luverne, Minn., 2014 Gustavus Adolphus College graduate Kat Dahl was always interested in helping others. Although she initially planned to be a high school math teacher, Dahl quickly fell in love with the sciences after taking General Chemistry during her first semester. Five years later, she’s following in her mother’s footsteps in the medical field.

Dahl was first introduced to Gustavus during a hockey camp in middle school and the community that she found made her college decision an easy one. “I knew I wanted to go to Gustavus,” she said. “I wanted a school where I would be more than just a number. It was important to me to get a great education while remaining involved in activities I was passionate about. Whether it was academic clubs, athletics, or arts, I didn’t want those experiences to end when I graduated high school.”

During her time at Gustavus, Dahl majored in biology, captained the softball team, and studied abroad in Scandinavia. In addition, she did research with Professor Margaret Bloch Qazi and was a member of the Pre-Health Club and Student Athlete Volunteer Educators (SAVE).

“Being involved in so many things taught me to work hard and how to prioritize my time,” Dahl continued. “Medical school is busy and can be overwhelming. I have to plan out each day before it starts in order to accomplish everything I need to get done. This was new to a lot of my classmates, but I had already been doing this for a long time at Gustavus.”

As she begins her second year of medical school at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus, Dahl illustrates how Gustavus allows students to pursue a variety of interests. “My professors were incredible,” she said. “They encouraged me to participate in extracurricular activities that would enhance not only my medical school applications but also my life.”

The support network that Dahl built on campus includes faculty, administrators, and staff. Professors Margaret Bloch Qazi, Brenda Kelly, Mike Ferragamo, and John Lammert were key in preparing her for medical school, but she also highlights Assistant Athletics Director Kari Eckheart, Director of Health Professions Advising Heather Banks, and mentor Brenda Haugen as sources of encouragement. “There were so many people that influenced my journey at Gustavus,” she said.

Dahl was a two-year captain of the Golden Gustie softball team.

Dahl was a two-year captain of the Golden Gustie softball team.

Along with the opportunity to participate in many activities at Gustavus, Dahl points to the College’s liberal arts environment as being crucial to her preparation for medical school. “I’ve been confident speaking up in class and giving presentations because that’s expected at Gustavus,” she said. “A lot of my classmates have had to completely change their study habits in order to adjust to the rigors of medical school. I learned those things as a Gustie, which made the transition much smoother.”

“I think a liberal arts education gave me a unique perspective on the things we cover in medical school,” she explained. “I’m not just looking at things from the perspective of a biologist. I find myself considering many different approaches because of all the different ideas I was exposed to at Gustavus.”

After applying to five medical schools, the summa cum laude graduate chose the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus for its strong rural medicine program and small class sizes. During her first year in medical school, Dahl met the “honors” designation in all of her classes, completing each course with marks of over 90 percent.

As she continues to work toward her dream of being a doctor, Dahl is grateful for the people and opportunities she found on campus. “Gustavus students get involved in so many activities because they’re passionate, well-rounded, and hardworking,” she said. “These traits will help an individual be successful no matter which career path they choose.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad



  1. Tim says:

    Way to go Kat!

  2. Don bosshart says:

    We are so proud of you. You come from a great family.

  3. Mary Goheen says:

    Congrats Kat! I always knew you were special from the first time I met you! So very proud of you!

  4. Andrew Malo says:

    YAY! Good for you, Kat!

  5. Kyhl Thomson says:

    As one of Kat’s softball coaches, I can honestly say she is one of the most incredible young women I have met in all of my years of coaching. Great student, fantastic softball player, even better person. Way to go KatDawg……