As an undergraduate, Matthew Schroeder became an emergency medical technician and witnessed patient trauma firsthand. After treating his first heart attack patient, he knew he wanted a career in medicine.
To gain experience, Schroeder volunteered on medical missions to El Hongo, Mexico, with the Flying Samaritans student club, conducted ovarian cancer and stem cell research and shadowed a local family physician, which made him decide to become a physician.
“These experiences got me excited about pursuing medicine in general. They also challenged me in different ways and made me a more resilient student,” said the biological science alumnus, who will attend the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago this fall.
For his outstanding service, commitment to serve humanity and academic achievements, Schroeder is this year’s recipient of the Miles D. McCarthy Health Professions Undergraduate Award. The honor is named for the late professor of biology who founded the health professions advising program more than 50 years ago to assist students pursuing careers in medicine, dentistry and other health professions.
“I feel honored to win this award — and excited to continue on in the health professions field,” he said.
Schroeder, who will be the first doctor in his family, studied cell and developmental biology, was on the Dean’s List and served as a leader in the peer-to-peer supplemental instruction program, helping classmates achieve in cell biology classes.
As a sophomore, he delved into his first research experience in the lab of Math P. Cuajungco, associate professor of biological science. He worked to develop disease models and was introduced to the medical and therapeutic potential of stem cells.
Interested in learning more about cell-based therapies, he was selected for the University’s Bridges to Stem Cell Research Program. He served a seven-month training internship with CSUF faculty mentor Alison Miyamoto, assistant professor of biological science, and investigated a protein whose expression is correlated with ovarian cancer.
For his work, Schroeder was awarded a $3,500 scholarship through the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology and Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research, which funds promising undergraduate student research projects in topics related to women’s health.
As a stem cell scholar, he spent seven months as a paid, full-time intern at Stanford University, conducting research using stem cell transplantation as a method to improve tissue regeneration. Since his CSUF graduation in January 2014, he has continued his Stanford research work, investigating the therapeutic potential of biological molecules in tissue regeneration.
“My research experiences at CSUF and Stanford gave me the opportunity to improve my critical-thinking skills, my abilities as a scientist and prepare for the rigors of medical school,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to gaining a quality medical education that will prepare me for my career as a physician. I’m also looking forward to exploring the various specialties — both in my clinical rotations and in the classroom.”