Evans Launches Medical Career With USAO Science Degree

In the U.S. Army, they call him captain. In the medical profession, they call him doctor. On the campus of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, they call him alum and friend.

Describing his decision to come to USAO as "one of the best decisions I ever made," Dr. Grant Evans continues to sing the praises of his Chickasha alma mater. He is a 2003 graduate of the college.

Evans is a captain in the United States Army and a third year urology resident at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He also is a graduate of Oklahoma State University. Evans credits his liberal arts education from USAO as the firm foundation for his career choice.

"I think USAO does an outstanding job of preparing individuals to be very successful in whatever career they choose but especially if they choose to go into some kind of scientific field like medicine or dentistry. I have a good career foundation thanks to USAO," he said.

Evans says that the interdisciplinary studies approach at USAO has benefitted him in his postgraduate studies.

"I think the experiences I got at USAO in interdisciplinary studies helps a lot. In fact, when I interviewed for a residency at Duke University one of my interviewers asked 'why are the Indian tribes in Oklahoma called the Five Civilized Tribes?' What does that have to do with a medical interview? It has nothing to do with a medical interview.

"You get asked questions by curious people -- questions that have no relation to your field of study. Having an interdisciplinary studies background enables you to adapt to these different situations. It helps you adapt to patients. You can relate to patients who come from different backgrounds.

"There is a choice -- you can focus on your specialty and block everything else out or you can learn about all the things around you. You have to get some background in other fields. You must be able to look at life's puzzles from different perspectives. I think USAO does this better than any other institution that I am aware of, certainly in Oklahoma and probably the nation."

Evans said that coming to USAO was not planned. "My dad came to Chickasha and that's how I discovered the college." Evans' father is Joe Evans, registrar and director of enrollment and records at USAO.

"When I discovered the college, I was a junior in high school. I had just finished basic training in the Army. I was supposed to finish my senior year of high school and then go back to the Army for advanced individual training. From there, I was planning to attend college.

"The Army tends to grow you up pretty quick. I was 17 years old when I went to basic training -- the youngest guy in my company. Then when I came back home, I couldn't relate to the kids I grew up with because I had grown up over the summer during basic training. My dad said 'why don't you give college a try?'

"I had done pretty well on my ACT. I had a 30 as a junior and USAO offered me a Regents Baccalaureate Scholarship. The university waived the need for a high school diploma and I started college. It was the best decision I ever made -- both to leave high school early to start college as well as to come to USAO."

Evans chose biology as his major at USAO. "Really for the first year here I focused on just going to class. I didn't get too involved in extracurricular activities. I did play in the band. We played at basketball games and concerts. When I started my sophomore year I started becoming more active on campus. I continued to play in the band. I got active in the USAO Ambassadors. I was also involved in Phi Lambda Chi. I was also active in the Biology and Associated Sciences Club. Some of the best times I had at the college were on field trips to Dr. Mather's cabin." Dr. Mike Mather is a professor of biology at USAO.

"We would go twice a year to his cabin collecting specimens and getting some outdoor experience. Where else are you going to go where you have a professor who has 76 acres who is willing to take his students there and teach in the field?

"The wealth of knowledge was so easy to come by here at USAO on a near one-to-one basis. I couldn't tell you the number of times in my various science classes where I was setting up in the lab on the third floor of Austin Hall -- just me and Dr. Magrath. If I had any questions, if I had something I couldn't figure out, the professors were right there. The professors were very accessible and incredibly knowledgeable in their field of expertise." Dr. Larry Magrath was a professor of biology at USAO until his death in 2007.

Just as his introduction to USAO was unorthodox, so was his conclusion as a student. "I was preparing for graduation and I had one class I needed to take, ecology, which was only offered in the summer. I was going to take that one last course in the summer and graduate. Well, my National Guard unit got orders to activate. Fortunately, they weren't sending us outside the country, but I wouldn't be able to take the ecology course.

"I asked Dr. Mather what were my options. At that point, I had taken every class I needed for a biology degree except for ecology. He suggested I change my major. The only difference between biology and natural science was that you had to take two additional courses -- both of which were being taught that trimester.

"The trimester was already halfway over. Dr. Mather told me if I enrolled in these two courses and caught up, I could graduate with a degree in natural science. I changed my major halfway through my last trimester, added the two courses halfway through the trimester and managed to get an 'A' in both of them." Evans graduated in April 2003 and was deployed in May.

Before being deployed, Evans applied to several medical schools. Two weeks after his deployment, he was accepted to Oklahoma State University. "I had to ask OSU to defer my seat for a year because of my deployment. They held the seat for me and when I returned from Louisiana I took a commission as an officer in the Army Reserve on a health profession scholarship and started medical school in August 2004.

"I spent four years at OSU and was accepted to a urologic surgery residency program through the Army associated with the University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio which is where I am now.

"I have no doubt that the education I received from USAO really prepped me to do very well as far as matching to the UT program -- it's a rigorous interview process that you have to go through and there are hundreds of people who apply every year to urology."

Evans has some information for incoming freshmen at USAO. "The interdisciplinary studies program is a good thing. You might not know it coming in. You might not know it while you are in it. But when you graduate from USAO and have completed your chosen field, as well as the IDS core, you are going to be much better prepared than any of your contemporaries who went to other schools that do not have a liberal arts core.

"Looking at things I have experienced, you come out of USAO a well-rounded individual. I know a lot of people say 'what does a well-rounded individual mean or who cares, I'm going to be an accountant. What do I need to know about world thought and culture?' Being able to relate to people, regardless of your chosen field, who have a different background than you or a different education than you makes it easier to communicate, to solve problems and to see success in life."

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