To prepare for a career in psychiatry, first-year student Mackenzie Hines-Wilson is taking courses in chemistry, neuroscience and biology, and assisting Calvin Lei, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences, in his research on implicit bias.
But her experiences outside of the classroom are important, too. As the vice president of her residential college, Hines-Wilson has planned study breaks and St. Louis outings for her stressed-out neighbors. And as a participant in Redefining Community Experience (RCE), a three-day social justice retreat, Hines-Wilson has learned what issues matter to different students.
“I want to support people and connect with people in ways that are meaningful.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from across campus with different backgrounds and identities different from mine,” said Hines-Wilson, a student in Arts & Sciences. “That matters to me because I want to support people and connect with people in ways that are meaningful. That’s why I want a career in mental health; I don’t want to be the type of doctor that fixes a physical problem and says goodbye. I want to build relationships and bonds. You can’t do that unless you try to understand what people have gone through.”
Hines-Wilson chose Washington University after participating in the College Prep Program, an innovative multi-year program for talented, low-income students from St. Louis-area high schools. For three summers, Hines-Wilson and her fellow scholars lived and learned on campus, earning college credit, drafting college essays and mastering skills such as time management. During a farewell dinner in the summer of 2016, Provost Holden Thorp and Leah Merrifield, associate vice chancellor for community engagement and St. Louis college readiness initiatives, told the scholars and their families that Washington University had established the College Prep Scholarship for admitted graduates of the program.
“I will never forget that moment,” Hines-Wilson said. “I remember crying so hard. Coming from a single-parent household, that was so big for my family.”
Hines-Wilson was one of six College Prep Scholars to attend Washington University, and one of two scholars invited to join the elite Ervin Scholars Program, which has produced three Rhodes Scholars and two Rhodes finalists in the past five years. Originally established to serve African-American students, the Ervin Scholars Program now accepts outstanding students of all backgrounds who have demonstrated a commitment to fostering a diverse campus — and world.
“There are so many Ervins that have gone onto health care, and they will be a really amazing resource when it comes to internships and applying to medical school,” Hines-Wilson said. “But even more importantly, they are part of a terrific support network I have here. I’ve never had so many people ask, ‘How are you?’ and really mean it.”