Beyond graduation: VanderWals to become medical missionaries

Harry VanderWal and his wife Echo are partners: in study, in medicine, in faith, in life, and especially in parenting. When Harry graduates on June 7, from Wright State University School of Medicine, along with 86 fellow medical students, the VanderWals will be one step closer to fulfilling their life goals.

Becoming part-time medical missionaries has been one objective set by the VanderWal's since Harry's decision during his sophomore year of college to go into medicine instead of math education. For Echo medical missions is a goal she has held since she was 8 years old. The VanderWal's plan to establish a medical mission in Africa, spending two months each year there, and to develop rotations with other physicians and staff personnel interested in medical missions. For now, they assist in shipping desperately needed medical supplies to areas in Africa.

Harry also sees the need for physicians and medical care in some of the remote rural areas here in the United States. So after Harry's residency, the VanderWal's plan to setup practice in a rural area.

When students enter college, one piece of advice given out by mentors usually includes: "Choose your friends wisely!" When Harry and Echo first became study partners, then friends, and then life partners, they chose wisely.

Harry and Echo both have B.A.'s in biology from Cedarville College where they graduated summa cum laude and were named to the president's and dean's lists. After graduation Harry came to Wright State to earn his M.D. and Echo received her degree as a Physician's Assistant from Kettering College of Medical Arts.

Midpoint in Harry's four-year M.D. program, triplets Luke, Jake, and Zeb were born. According to Harry and Echo, "Babies are smile experts! They seem to smile from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes!"

The next step for the VanderWals is Harry's residency in the medicine/pediatrics residency training program at Wright State. The combined medicine-pediatrics program offers graduates the opportunity to become board certified in both internal medicine and pediatrics in four years.

"I could not have made it without Echo's support, the support of my friends, family, and my faith," states Harry. "The students, faculty, clinical faculty, and staff here at Wright State have made my journey very positive!"

Last edited on 04/28/2015.