PBPH Success Stories: Congratulations to Medical School Class of 2026!

The Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program at Northwestern Health Sciences University helps students prepare for their next step in healthcare: medical school, dental school, PA school, and more.  

This fall, 39 PBPH alums are starting their next chapters. They came to NWHSU for different reasons. Some needed to complete pre-requisites and hadn’t ever taken college-level science before. For others, their GPA from undergrad wasn’t what it needed to be. Maybe they weren’t even quite sure which health career was right for them.  

Each of these students worked hard and put in the time, and this fall it’s all paying off. Congratulations to the class of 2026—we’re excited to see what you accomplish!

Here we’re listing MD and DO fall starts. You can also read about Dental, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy, and other professional programs. 

  • Rebecca AbuAyed, University of Minnesota Medical School-Twin Cities

Rebecca AbuAyed, University of Minnesota Medical School-Twin CitiesRebecca worked in clinical research before becoming a stay-at-home mom for ten years. When her youngest daughter went to school she got back into clinical research, where she worked with NWHSU PBPH students who encouraged her to return to school. “I had thought I was a little bit too old, that it was possibly a little too late, but after a coworker described the program here at Northwestern I thought ‘oh, this might be something I can still do.’” 

At NWHSU, Rebecca found not only the academic support she needed to complete her pre-reqs and prepare for the MCAT, but a supportive community: “I’ll take away what it looks like to become part of a community in a meaningful and contributing way.” She worked as a TA and co-instructor, took part in student organizations and initiatives, and competed in the 2020 Mayo Clinic Impact Program–where her team won the gold medal.  

“One of the greatest values that I have learned in my time here at Northwestern is teamwork: when you have a team that can work together synergistically you can create a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. That is something I think the faculty here represent.”  

Rebecca sees her time focused on parenting as an asset as she enters medical school: she’s more confident in herself, she doesn’t sweat the small mistakes, and she knows how to go without sleep. Her children are her biggest supporters. “I hope my children take away from this what it looks like to actually go after your dreams.”  

  • Waylon Alvarado, Medical College of Wisconsin 
  • Blessing Atanmo, University of Arizona-Phoenix 
  • Jacob Ballard, Medical College of Wisconsin 
  • Seth Borchard University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine 

Seth Borchard University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Seth came to NWHSU after COVID-19 brought him and his wife Anna home from Southeast Asia, where they were working as humanitarian aid workers. Seth started his undergrad on a pre-med track, but switched to finance and economics, ultimately obtaining a Master of Healthcare Administration.  

For Seth, “the biggest challenge was overcoming the mental roadblock that I wasn’t cut out for medical school.” He originally planned to take 12 months of coursework, but at NWHSU he was able to condense that to six months, giving him the ability to apply for medical school a year earlier than he had expected. “I attribute a significant portion of my successful application to the preparation I received as a part of the PBPH program. It helped me gain four acceptances, including my dream school.” 

Seth is open to whatever the future holds. He has dreams of practicing medicine both domestically and globally and has clinical interests in pediatrics as well as orthopedics and sports medicine.  

  • Misha Brown, Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine 

Misha Brown, Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine Misha studied biological sciences at University of Missouri, and came to NWHSU to get a leg up and prove to medical schools that she was ready. “I had a lot to prove following my undergraduate career,” she shared.  Misha worked as a medical assistant while taking classes in the PBPH program, and the supportiveness of the community was key. 

“The approachability of the faculty made all the difference. They really do want you to succeed,” she said, noting that NWHSU faculty knew her name and got to know her. One of the hardest parts of applying for medical school was waiting for an answer. “It really is a lesson in patience.”  

Misha chose medical school because “doctors are in this unique position to be scientists, teachers, leaders, and advocates. The human body is amazing and I want to learn more about it while teaching others. I’m just excited to get out there and let my passion be something that impacts and benefits my fellow man.”  

  • Dana Cavanaugh, Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Liane DiPrima, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine 
  • Lily Fahs, Duke School of Medicine 
  • Jacob Franzen, Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • Alexander Grieme, Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • Jonathon Gruba, Sanford School of Medicine University of South Dakota 
  • Hannah Hwang, University of Minnesota Medical School-Twin Cities 
  • Katy Hannah, St. George’s University Medical School 
  • Heather Kane, Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • Thomas Kelly, Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • Benjamin King, Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine 

Benjamin King, Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine Ben King started at North Hennepin Community College before coming to NWHSU to complete his B.S. in Human Biology. Through college, he worked an average of 38 hours a week at up to three part-time jobs at any given time, including working as a direct care professional. That hands-on clinical experience confirmed for Ben that he loved caring for people and wanted to acquire the knowledge to do that in a larger capacity.  

For Ben, the biggest challenge was fighting self-doubt. “I did not have any family members, relatives, or friends who had done it before,” he shared. “Was I smart enough?” The MCAT was also a hurdle, and he spent many months and hundreds of hours studying for it. The classes at NWHSU prepared him for the rigors of medical school, and introduced Ben to “some of the most outstanding professors I have ever met.”

Ben is looking forward to his future. “I get to pursue an area of study that I find extremely interesting; one that I will never know everything about and I also get to help other people with that knowledge. I am excited about the future as I look forward to becoming a competent, compassionate, and impactful osteopathic doctor one day at a time.”

  •  Lucas Lavelle, Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • Annie Le, Lincoln Memorial University–DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • Cameron Mackay, Michigan State College of Medicine 
  • Sanjeev Mishra, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine 

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Sanjeev graduated with a B.S. in physics and worked in medical device engineering for a couple years before starting to suspect that he wanted to be closer to the point of patient care. He enrolled in classes in the PBPH program and confirmed that suspicion. “The post-bacc program was able to meet me where I was when I wanted to make that change in my life.”  

The coursework engaged Sanjeev’s curiosity in a big way. “There were literally awesome moments. I was in awe when we learned about how biological systems work, DNA, evolution…” At the same time, he started gaining clinic experience, working with people and connecting with them in vulnerable moments. “The academic and human aspects were both things that I resonated with pretty strongly.”  

Sanjeev was the kind of student who asked dozens of questions, both related to the material and not. He found the faculty in the PBPH program to “always be very down to indulge my curiosities.” He worked closely with Dr. Lawrenz-Smith through the application process. “I can’t really imagine going through this process without that kind of help, honestly,” he shared.  

As a doctor, Sanjeev hopes to work directly with patients. He hopes to empower them with knowledge and confidence. This will make it helpful as they navigate health crises and will put them at ease. He also has an interest in pursuing research in health equity. And furthermore, on public policy around healthcare access to make more of a macroscopic impact. “I’m going to be really about equity and justice in the spaces I’m moving in,” he said. “And there’s no shortage of work that needs to be done.”

  • Sydney Mojica, St. George’s University Medical School 
  • Nick Moore, Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine 

Nick came to NWHSU after working in the financial sector and realizing he needed to find his passion. Here, he fell in love with science and never looked back. For Nick, the hardest part was balancing school, work and life. “Constantly doubting myself along the way was a big mental drain, but I hope people realize that I started with no college-level science coursework and ended up in medical school through straight grit and staying the course.” 

About the PBPH program, Nick shared “I wouldn’t have been accepted into medical school without each of the professors at the post-bacc program. They made me a better student and a better person, which I believe will translate through my time as a medical student, resident, and physician.” Nick is excited about the difference he can make as a doctor. He received the Health Professional Scholarship and hopes to ultimately serve as a physician with the U.S. Navy.  

  •  Alina Nguyen, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Seton Hall 
  • Katie Parens, University of Minnesota Medical School-Twin Cities 
  • Elliot Parens, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine  
  • Rashika Shetty, University of Minnesota Medical School-Twin Cities 

Could you be our next success story? Learn more about the PBPH program.