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Ebstein's anomaly inspires student to pursue pediatric cardiology

Megan Cavataio, '18, has aspired to be a doctor since she was 5 years old. Cavataio was born with a heart defect called Ebstein's anomaly, which required surgery the summer after she finished kindergarten.

"In the months leading up to my surgery, my parents bought me books about the human body and heart so that I would be prepared," Cavataio says. "I quickly fell in love with anatomy and medicine."

Cavataio sees her pediatric cardiologist every year, and she takes each doctor's visit as an opportunity to learn about her future profession.

"Over the years I have shadowed various doctors and volunteered at local hospitals," she says. "Every time I step into an exam room I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. My goal is to become a pediatric cardiologist so I can use my personal experiences as a patient and unique perspective on the medical field to give my own patients the best medical care possible."

Whitworth has provided Cavataio with a program that suits her goals.

"When I was looking at schools, I saw that Whitworth has a high acceptance rate into medical school, which is due to their comprehensive pre-med program," Cavataio says. "Whitworth has a fantastic team of pre-med faculty advisors who have given me great one-on-one advice on how to be the best student I can be, and I feel that the personalized attention I have received at Whitworth has made me a competitive applicant for medical school."

Whitworth has a 100 percent acceptance rate into medical school for students who meet all of the pre-med advisor's recommendations. Whitworth's pre-med program also teaches lessons beyond the classroom.

"The most challenging part about being a pre-med student is learning how to manage my time efficiently and maintaining a healthy school-life balance," Cavataio says. "There is a fine line between working hard enough to be successful and overexerting myself to the point of burnout. It is easy to focus all of my time on school until it negatively affects my social relationships and personal health, but this is not sustainable."

Overall, Cavataio wouldn't trade her field of study for anything else.

"I am fascinated by how tiny molecules can interact to form our incredibly complex human bodies, and I love learning how to explain the ways all of our cells interact with each other through chemical reactions," she says. "Learning about the human body through my biology and chemistry courses has confirmed my desire to dedicate my life to medicine."

Cavataio is president of the Chemistry and Other Sciences Club (CHAOS) on campus. She is also co-president of the Pre-Med Club, and she works as a lab teaching assistant for the biology and chemistry departments in addition to serving as a biology department assistant.

After graduating from Whitworth, Cavataio will take a gap year to apply for medical schools while working as a medical scribe in her hometown of Escondido, Calif. She hopes to enroll in medical school by fall 2019.