Inspiring Graduate Anna Brooks, B.S. Applied Science

'I am extremely grateful for all the doors that Stout has opened for me.'
May 24, 2023

Inspiring Graduate: Anna Brooks (’23)

On the night of Feb. 20, 2022, the first bombs struck Anna Brooks’ hometown of Cherkasy, Ukraine. “A cozy and peaceful town was forever changed. And so was I,” she shared in her address as commencement speaker at UW-Stout’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management ceremony on May 6.

“That night, as I sat with my mom and my husband in our home in Menomonie, figuring out what on earth would we do next, I grew 10 years older. Later that morning, dozens of people at Stout approached me to offer their help and condolences. Suddenly, I realized that I was a part of something bigger and stronger than myself. I was a part of the Stout community – my village – my family of choice,” she said to her fellow CSTEMM graduates.

Anna Brooks, 1
Inspiring Graduate Anna Brooks with Chancellor Katherine Frank at commencement / UW-Stout

Brooks had earned a business degree in Ukraine and moved to the U.S. several years ago. But her dream was to go to medical school. After her husband graduated from UW-Stout, she decided to change her career and pursue a degree in applied science, with a premedical specialization. “Little did I know that it involved inheriting a whole community.”

In her final commencement statements, Brooks added, “I remembered one simple truth: our strength is in our people. As I look at hundreds of beautiful, inspiring, hungry souls in front of me, I see the faces of future communities. … In this divided world, let’s be the force of unity and humility. Let’s bring our people together just as Stout did for us.”

This summer, Brooks will complete an internship at the Urology Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School, before beginning her applications to medical school.

“I am proud of overcoming all the difficulties in my studies and persevering on my premedical path. I am graduating with a 4.0 GPA which is an achievement of its own,” Brooks said.

"I am extremely grateful for all the doors that Stout has opened for me."

Anna Brooks, 2
Anna Brooks was the student speaker at the CSTEMM ceremony / UW-Stout

“Anna is a great example of what having a second chance, a second bachelor’s degree in her case, can do for someone,” said Dr. Alex Hall. “She is a reminder that we are welcoming of people of all backgrounds, and of our goal to give back to the state of Wisconsin, as she’s very interested in being a doctor in the Menomonie area when she’s done with her training.”

How have your Stout education and experience changed you?

Stout has completely changed my view and understanding of the world, especially how I approach information. I have noticed that my thinking is much more critical. I always look for peer-reviewed evidence when approaching any new concept. My view of the human body has deepened immensely.

The education I received at Stout has interested me even more in learning as much as possible.

How has UW-Stout prepared you to work in your field?

I believe that evidence speaks for my competitiveness in the field. I have done hands-on research at Stout, presented it at the NCUR 2023, and participated and won the SDoH Challenge with Mayo. I also served as a tutor and teaching assistant.

Anna Brooks, 3
Anna Brooks in an applied science lab / UW-Stout

My first internship experience was in public health. In the second, my team at Washington Medical School wrote and published a study about cultural support for neurocritical patients.

My internship this summer in Madison will help fill a gap year between my undergraduate and graduate degrees.

What stands out about your UW-Stout experience?

My professors were more than just teachers: they became my friends, people who encouraged and supported me through difficult times, people who challenged me to get out of my comfort zone.

Thanks to my mentors, I learned way more than I expected and could ever dream of. They will forever occupy a special place in my heart.

My teachers became my guides in the vast worlds of knowledge: Dr. Alex Hall taught me how humans work both on the inside and with each other. Dr. Brian Teague became my research mentor in all my projects in genetics, and a dozen more of amazing professors followed suit.

Anna Brooks and Dr. Alex Hall
Dr. Alex Hall and Anna Brooks / Anna Brooks

How did you overcome the challenges you faced in earning your degree?

After the first year of my undergraduate degree, I was faced with debilitating anxiety. I was afraid that I had to pause my education because I simply could not get out of bed. I had a lot of support from my husband and the rest of the family.

I took the time to reflect on ways I could combat the ailment. I knew that I would forever regret leaving school for any reason. The hard work paid off and I was able to return to the classroom.

A year after that, my mother had to leave Ukraine and stay with my family here. It was difficult to focus on schoolwork while the tragedy was unfolding. But I was inspired by the strong women in my family and could not stop working for the better of my patients' future. In the end, the pressure made me the resilient and determined scholar I am today.

How did your involvement impact your experience?

In my first year at Stout, I became a member of the Pre-Health Society and became obsessed with the opportunities the club offered. I was elected president for the next two years. It is with a heavy heart that I leave the team I organized so many events with. Blood drives, bone marrow donor sign-ups, the Relay for Life, speaker nights and dozens of other events taught me about working with a team and making a true difference.

I have received a few scholarships: Howe HE Scholarship; Enger Scholarship; WI Regents Opportunity Scholarship; and Herman Arneson Scholarship. The trust and support I received from the people who chose me as an awardee inspired me to one day establish my own scholarship.

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