Skip to main content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer content

Student Spotlight

Blake Beehler '16

Inspiring Alumni: A biology senior meets one of his inspirations to go to medical school, Dr. Stephen Ondra, MD '80. Dr. Ondra removed a spinal tumor from Blake's brother when Blake was 13.


What did you do today? Today I had an opportunity to speak with one of the men behind my motivation to go into a healthcare career, Dr. Steve Ondra. He had performed surgery on my older brother. I was 13 at the time, my brother was 16. He had suffered a soccer injury, kind of a fluke way of finding a tumor growing on his spine. We were referred to Dr. Ondra, who was the man for the job. He was the head of neurosurgery at Northwestern at the time, touted as one of the best neurosurgeons in the nation. He performed an 11-hour surgery on my brother. After a long recovery period, my brother went on to play four years of college sports, despite having a metal cage in his back instead of one of his vertebrae, and now he’s actually refereeing at the professional level. So it’s amazing to see his recovery because of the influences and the expertise that Dr. Ondra was able to provide. Ever since then I’ve been dedicated towards a healthcare career path.

Meeting Dr. Ondra was a very, very rewarding experience. He’s had a huge impact in so many different career paths. And he was able to stress and re-incentivize the importance of a liberal arts education, especially because he’s transferred from being an expert in neurosurgery, to working for President Obama and developing the Affordable Care Act, and now he redefining health insurance in his new role as Chief Medical Officer. I guess the main takeaway is, I don’t know where life’s going to take me, but as long as I continue to be excited about learning, it’s going to take me to some great places.

Why did you choose Illinois Wesleyan?  I was looking for the best college in the nation for biology. Illinois Wesleyan happens to be one of them, and it still continues to be. I also was pursuing an opportunity to play collegiate soccer following my brother’s footsteps.

And how was your college experience? Wesleyan’s been better than I could have imagined. I’ve had some fantastic friends, fantastic professors that I will continue to keep in contact with for a very long time. Wesleyan has set me up perfectly for medical school admissions. It's set me up perfectly for research jobs, if I need to take up something in the interim before acceptances come around. Overall a wonderful experience, and I don’t think I have could done everything I have done anywhere else.



Loni Walker - Associate Professor and Chair of Biology

Department - Biology