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Bronson Pierce
July 26, 2023

Student Rethinks Career and Charts Path to Medical School and Fulfillment

Five years ago, Bronson Pierce ’22 never imagined he would attend Mercer University School of Medicine in 2023. Though he had completed a management degree at a large state school and had secured a position in the business world, something was missing. He wanted fulfillment — like the kind his future wife was experiencing as a nursing major at Berry.  

Pierce says, “I was dating my now wife, Kaitlyn, when she was in Berry’s nursing program and loving it. It was such a contrast to my college experience. I had no emotional attachment to college and can’t remember any of my professors’ names. But Kaitlyn would talk about her learning and medicine, and I thought, ‘This is so much more meaningful than what I do every day.’” 

After graduation, his wife started her nursing career in a local ICU, and her experiences continued to intrigue Pierce. When Pierce admitted he wanted to attend medical school, she encouraged him to call Clinical Assistant Professor of Health Professions and Pre-health Advisor Chris Mingone.  

“Dr. Mingone invited me to visit Berry’s BCC 150 course, Introduction to Health Professions. He thought Berry could work, but he was helping me navigate all my options. Before this experience, I thought advising meant showing up to receive a list of classes, but at Berry, I felt like I had people on my team, invested in my future,” says Pierce. 

Once enrolled, Pierce describes continuous support from Berry campus mentors. Mingone frequently checked in to make sure he was on track, especially during the COVID pandemic when students struggled for clinical hours. Pierce also attended mock interviews and personal statement workshops Mingone orchestrated. 

Pierce’s student work position as a teaching assistant in Associate Professor of Biology DeLacy Rhodes’ microbiology lab also played a significant role in his growth. Pierce says this opportunity was one of the most meaningful experiences he had at Berry because Rhodes pushed him to practice public speaking and mentoring students, strengths he had not recognized.  

Selected to participate in the Berry College Integrity and Leadership (BCIL) Carper Mentoring Program he was paired with a local radiologist and a group of students pursuing medicine. 

Pierce says, “I loved connecting with someone who had finished medical school and who could share perspectives on medical topics, but I also loved connecting with someone who would open his home to my family for dinner." 

The combination of academic advising, on-the-job learning and one-on-one mentoring at Berry led to offers from the Medical College of Georgia and the Mercer School of Medicine. "I believe advising is especially important for students who don’t know why they are in college," Pierce says. "Some start planning to be a doctor at age five, but others, like me, may not be sure where they are headed. Advisors are crucial for helping students develop a path.” 

There's another plus to Pierce's undergraduate experience — the habit of lifelong learning — a lesson that serves doctors especially well. Though he once viewed education as a necessity rather than something to enjoy, he now sees the value of being a student for life. Looking back, Pierce says, "My excitement for learning increased tenfold at Berry."

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