Class of 2017: She’ll go her own way to give back

Erin Schulte

Erin Schulte, bioengineering, received the Provost Scholar Athlete Award for the third time in 2017. In 2016, she was named to the Atlantic-10 All-Academic swim team. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

Several people have tried to convince Erin Schulte to pursue a career as a doctor. That includes faculty members at George Mason University, where she graduated in May as a senior bioengineering major, and physicians with whom Schulte is acquainted.

Schulte’s passion is medicine, but of a more personal nature.

The Centreville, Va., native wants to be a physician’s assistant. Nothing against doctors, but …

“Being a physician’s assistant allows me to have more one-on-one contact with patients,” Schulte said. “It also offers me the opportunity to do different disciplines within medicine. With a physician’s assistant, once you are qualified and pass the board exam, you can work in whatever field you want.”

Schulte, who will attend graduate school at Shenandoah University, wants to work with children. It is a way to give back, she said, from her successful battle against leukemia that began when she was 4 years old.

“I feel very lucky,” said Schulte, who underwent 30 months of chemotherapy. “My goal in life is to help others.”

Schulte made the most of her time at George Mason.

A member of the Honors College and a long-distance freestyler for the university’s swimming team, Schulte is a three-time winner of Mason’s Provost Scholar Athlete Award, which recognizes student-athletes with at least a 3.75 GPA.

In 2016, Schulte was named to the Atlantic 10 Conference’s all-academic swimming and diving team.

“She has an extremely sharp mind and a nose for interesting research questions,” said associate professor Ali A. Weinstein, who had Schulte in a Foundations of Clinical Research class. “She was thoughtful in her work and a pleasure to have in class.”

Mason and its Volgenau School of Engineering “provided me the chance to be a student athlete and get the career I wanted,” Schulte said. “It gave me the right education and gave me a chance to continue my passion for swimming. It was a great environment.”

Schulte would like to go into pediatrics or orthopedics as a physician’s assistant. Whatever she decides, her goal is create environments of comfort, compassion and caring for her patients.

“I will feel like I fulfilled my purpose in giving back, knowing I can make a difference,” she said.