Playing For Career In Podiatry

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Tia Furness’ pursuit at being a music and biology double major, with a chemistry minor, has netted some impressive results: a scholarship to support her interest in piano and an acceptance at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona to pursue a doctorate in podiatric medicine.

It validates her choice to seek a liberal arts education.

“There are so many opportunities at Dominican, that I know I made the right decision,” Tia says. “My experience was very positive. Lots of good friendships made and professors met. Plus the student body is super welcoming, so you feel comfortable with your peers.”

Tia – along with four other students: Sivan Brodo-Abo ’20, Eli Hawley-Veilleux ’20, Dante del Rosario '21, and Evangeline Adana ’20 (who has been accepted into UCSF's Global Public Health Science Masters Program)  – are the recipients of the inaugural Father Edwin Casey Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship was created by Dominican alumna Cecilia Park Chang ’63, who first met Father Casey in Korea where he helped encourage her to attend Dominican. The scholarship provides additive financial assistance for music majors during their junior or senior year.

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From Maria Carrillo High School in Santa Rosa, Tia was drawn to Dominican because she was looking for a small college close to home. She was attracted by the science program and the Pre-Med Mentors Program with Kaiser Permanente.

However, after her first semester, Tia was inspired to double major in music. She had been an accomplished pianist since the age of seven, yet elected to take a break when she enrolled at Dominican.

“The one semester of not playing piano really felt foreign to me. I needed to do something,” Tia recalls. “I found the practice rooms in Angelico Hall and spent most of my time there, so I wasn’t stuck in my dorm. It gave me more motivation to get back into playing piano.”

Making music and making friends has become routine.

“Attending Dominican has allowed me to build new relationships with my peers, grow as an individual, and help me towards my future goals. Dominican provided me with the ability to study both science and music within my four years of undergrad for which I am grateful,” Tia said in her thank you letter for the Father Edwin Casey Endowed Scholarship. “The course I enjoyed the most at Dominican is the Chamber Ensembles class. This class allowed me to collaborate and perform with other musicians, develop effective communication, and create long-lasting friendships with people who have interests similar to mine.”

Music, albeit, will take a back seat to podiatry this fall. Originally, Tia had an interest in family medicine. That changed after she shadowed a variety of doctors at both Kaiser and Sutter Health, specifically when she was paired with two podiatric physicians at Sutter.

“Shadowing the podiatric physicians allowed me to see the variety of different cases they saw on the day to day, the wide age range of patients they got to work with, and the surgical aspects of podiatry,” Tia says. “It really showed me just how challenging and rewarding having a direct impact on people's quality of life can be.”

What was most pleasing to Tia throughout the whole process was the support and guidance she received from faculty in both the School of Health and Natural Sciences and the School of Liberal Arts and Education. Dr. Meredith Protas, a biology research professor in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and June Choi Oh, the chair of the Department of Music, Dance, and Performing Arts, both supported Tia during the application and interview processes, as well as with decision making. June Oh also helped Tia manage and balance her class schedule in music and science, which allowed Tia to succeed at Dominican and reach her goal of attending Western University.

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