Senior Gabrielle Mungcal has had a penchant for medicine ever since she was a little girl. Watching her father working as a physician in their hometown of Greensburg, Ind., Mungcal saw the beauty of the relationships formed in medicine.
“I remember looking up to my dad from a very young age, not just because of how good of a doctor he was, but also because of the strong relationships he was able to form with his patients and our community,” Mungcal said. “I remember how welcoming it made our community feel and how it made want to be able to give back in the same way he did.”
As she got older, Mungcal’s interest in medicine developed as she herself engaged with the field. “I’ve been given countless opportunities to be exposed to science classes that have challenged my own abilities to think critically as well as understand the world around me,” Mungcal said. “I've been continually asked to consider the ethics behind our actions and society's, and encouraged to grow not just a scientist but as a person and future physician. After going through all of this, I was truly able to discern what I loved, and saw being a physician as a perfect amalgamation of all of these loves.”
One of the many opportunities Mungcal has taken advantage of at Notre Dame is research. In the last couple of years, Mungcal has worked with Reginald Hill, the Archibald Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology at Harper Cancer Research Institute and assistant professor of biological sciences, on groundbreaking pancreatic cancer research. “In lab, I was able to learn not only the mechanisms and science behind cancer and its research, but also the heart. All of the researchers in our lab are so passionate about what we do and about wanting to make a difference for others that I think that's what has stuck the most and will continue to impact me moving into the future,” Mungcal said.
A biology major with a minor in Science, Technology, and Values, Mungcal is also involved in Uplift, a peer mentoring program in the Department of Biology, and is a regular volunteer at the Center for Hospice in nearby Mishawaka. She said that both of those experiences have allowed her to see how even the smallest actions can help people
Mungcal is still deciding on her path for the future. Having been accepted to several medical schools, Mungcal still has to decide where to go. While she could see herself pursuing oncology given her past experience with cancer research, she is keeping her options open. “Once I got involved in cancer research and got to understand the science behind it better, I only liked the subject even more,” Mungcal said. “With that being said, however, I've come to grasp the enormity of the field of medicine. There's so many different paths one can take, and I really look forward to getting to learn and explore more of them.”
Mungcal said that the best advice she could give to other prospective doctors is to be passionate about medicine, whether that be by partaking in extracurriculars or engaging in further research. “When applying, you quickly learn that everyone is just as qualified and just as smart as you are,” Mungcal said. “Passion is not only what will keep you going through the multitude of steps in the application process, but will also differentiate you and will land you that spot in medical school.”