Cole Puffer '15

Intersectional Learning

Cole chose Luther because he could study in a strong biology program while still receiving a great liberal arts education. “The incredible thing about Luther is that you can study the minutia of evolutionary genetics in one class, and fifteen minutes later you can be debating the nature of knowledge itself,” he says. “You can learn the anatomy of the human body and investigate the human soul in the same day. To me, this type of intersectional learning is both valuable and important for life after college.”

His Path to Medical School

During his senior year, Cole met a physician in Decorah who encouraged him to apply to medical school at the University of Minnesota - Duluth since he thought it would be a good fit for him. “I applied to medical school and received an interview. After speaking with students and faculty, I knew it was the place for me and matriculated in the fall of 2016.”

Interests In and Outside of Medicine

“At Luther I was able to nurture a wide variety of interests, from sports to arts to philosophy and beyond,” Cole says. “These topics outside of medicine have kept me sane during medical school and allowed me to connect with people in clinics and hospitals.”

Cole believes that as a medical student and future physician, he doesn’t expect his career to only be filled with science. “An important part of my future career is to relate to people and Luther has prepared me to fully engage with that.”

Biology Major Enhances Life Experiences

Cole knows that his major has helped augment his life outside of medical school. “I love identifying different plant and animal species while on camping trips in the Boundary Waters that I learned during my Winter Biology course,” he says. “And because of the training I received in my courses at Luther, I’m able to engage in national and state-level debates about climate change, loss of biodiversity, or the environmental effects of mining in Northern Minnesota. My major has made it possible for me to read and understand the primary literature associated with these debates.”

Beyond A Degree

Cole appreciates many aspects of his education. “At Luther, you can speak directly with your professors and that’s a unique and valuable characteristic. Plus, they’re not afraid to push students in the upper-level classes. As a result I felt more than adequately prepared for my graduate level classes in medical school.”

Cole has also realized how important it was to his scientific education to study topics such as music, philosophy, religion, literature, and art. “Those areas give value, direction, and purpose to the study of biology and allow professionals like me to effectively communicate findings to those outside of a scientific discipline.”