Jessica De Valk, MD (’11) is a primary care pediatrician in the greater Milwaukee area who majored in Molecular Biology with Honors in the Liberal Arts at UW-Madison.
Q: How did you decide what you wanted to do for a career?
A: I’ve always been interested in science and medicine. From an early age I decided I wanted to be a doctor. No one in my family was in the medical field, and I knew I needed to explore the field of medicine more to determine if that truly was the right fit for me. As an undergraduate at UW, I volunteered at the children’s hospital and worked as a certified nursing assistant both in a nursing home and hospital. I also worked in a lab on campus with a focus on molecular and medical genetics. These experiences, along with completing prerequisite classes to meet the pre-med requirements, solidified my desire to apply to medical school. My journey into pediatrics specifically was an easy decision for me.
Q: What professional advice would you give yourself at age 20?
A: I would advise my 20-year-old self to enjoy the journey (it can be a long one in my chosen career). I’ve met some incredible mentors and friends over the years. I would also reassure myself that all the bumps and set backs I encounter along the way will be important moments reflected upon with gratitude.
Not getting into medical school the first year I applied out of college was the best thing to happen to me. The universe knew I needed some time to regroup, and I entered medical school the following year recharged and 100% certain I was choosing the right career path. Things have a funny way of working out in the end.