Editor’s Note February 18, 2024, at 4:57 p.m.: An earlier version of this article included two errors. First, Bennett earned her graduate degree from Miami University of Ohio, not the Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Second, she did not move outside the world of academia but moved out of the classroom into an advising role.
Bowdoin welcomed Dr. Valerie Bennett as the College’s new Director of Health Professions Advising at the beginning of the spring semester.
Bennett’s hiring follows the retirement of long-time Director of Health Professions Advising Seth Ramus, who has worked at the College for 21 years and has served as director for roughly 12 of those years. Bennett noted that she had met Ramus before her time at Bowdoin when they were members of the same national health organizations. Ramus initially drew her attention to the position at Bowdoin after they presented at a conference together this past summer.
Bennett plans to continue supporting pre-health students at Bowdoin in a similar capacity as Ramus while also bringing new ideas to the role.
“Hopefully it’ll be a good transition for students because [Ramus and I] have similar backgrounds and experiences,” she said.
Bennett is excited to work with students at Bowdoin and introduce them to a wide variety of careers in which they can have an impact beyond traditional medicine. Bennett acknowledged that while doctors and nurses are highly visible in medicine, there are many other career opportunities for students to explore.
Ruby Pollack ’25 has met with Bennett and was appreciative of Bennett’s interdisciplinary approach to healthcare.
“[Bennett] streamlined my pre-health process in a way that utilized my time efficiently and honored my anthropology major,” Pollack said.
In addition to her goal of advising a multitude of healthcare careers, Bennett underscored the importance of inclusion within the medical field. She noted the difficulty of navigating the competitive application processes, both to medical schools and jobs, particularly for students who don’t already have established networks in medicine.
This week, Bennett accompanied THRIVE students on a trip to Boston University’s Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.
“THRIVE is one of the things that really attracted me to coming to work at Bowdoin. I’ve come from under-resourced colleges where I often encountered first-generation students or students from underrepresented backgrounds, and there are so many barriers to navigating a college education and entering competitive healthcare fields,” Bennett said.
Though Bennett might be a new face on campus, she is no stranger to the small liberal arts college experience. She completed undergraduate degrees in biology and education at Colgate University and earned her graduate degree in biology and zoology from Miami University of Ohio. She later became a biology professor at the Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
It was during her time at Clarion that Bennett first moved outside of the classroom and dove into the world of advising students, which she loved but found tricky to balance.
“I really enjoyed that piece of what I did,” Bennett said. “I will say that my work-life balance was completely out of whack. Adding the advising piece of how to get [students] into medical schools and understanding that whole process was certainly like another full-time job.”
Bennett then worked at Bradley University for 10 years where she moved her focus to advising and building out resources for students who were interested in attending medical school or pursuing other professions in healthcare, a role she will continue to fill at Bowdoin.
Bennett stressed her accessibility to Bowdoin students and looks forward to building connections with them.
“I want to encourage students to be curious and explore options in all different things they might be passionate about,” Bennett said. “Develop those passions and curiosities and see how they help you develop a unique mission of what you want to accomplish in your career and how it can impact society.”