Alissa Abentroth

Carroll College placeholder image of Simperman Hall in the sun.

Alissa Abentroth
  • Biology

Class of: 2016

BA high school volleyball standout, the Choteau native was accepted to a variety of schools. But when she first toured Carroll, Alissa Abentroth felt that she fit in and decided that's where I want to go to school. On Carroll's campus everyone says, 'hi, how are you doing,' Abentroth said. In addition to the family atmosphere, Abentroth liked the one-on-one attention of professors and the work ethic they instilled. When your professor knows you on a personal level, it makes you work harder, she said, a principle Abentroth transfers to everything she does.

While she was wrapping up her undergraduate studies, she decided to continue on at medical school. Abentroth entered Carroll knowing she wanted a career in the health profession, but wasn't sure exactly what that entailed. It wasn't until her third year that she knew being a doctor was what she wanted. But now she says, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do. Abentroth attended the University of Washington in Seattle through the WWAMI program, and finished six months early.

She chose to practice international medicine with the extra time before starting her residency.

Abentroth traveled to Kenya, Belfast, Northern Ireland and Guatemala. She said the international travel was a good experience to take time off and see the world in the eyes of a physician and practice third world medicine. She added that she enjoyed the autonomy she had during her clinical experience in Kenya. Because I did my education in the States, I was it, she said, noting that she could perform procedures there that she wouldn't be able to do until later in her residency in the United States.

She enjoyed her time in Africa and credited it as an avenue for that whole growing up process. Even though I was by myself, I never felt lonely or alone. Abentroth lived in her own hut in the village of Kikuyu, population 300, but was a daily guest in the homes of community members.

After spending time in Kenya, Abentroth traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland with the intent to do trauma surgery. However, that summer was the most peaceful in the city in years, so she changed her focus to other areas. As part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland's health care is government subsidized and Abentroth said her experience showed that although the country is industrialized, facilities there lack the modernization of other developed countries. [It's] first-world medicine experienced in third-world conditions, she said, adding that hospitals there still have open wards with 50 or so beds filled with patients suffering from different illnesses.

Abentroth later traveled to Guatemala and volunteered for two months in a hospital there before returning to the United States. She has now just started her general surgery residency at Yale University.

Abentroth credits her experiences at Carroll as significantly influencing her success. I think every decision I've made from here on out has been influenced by Carroll, or my friends at Carroll or my professors. Abentroth also said her private education prepared her for medical school better than many students who went to larger universities, adding that the new Fortin Science Center will raise the level of learning for Carroll students, making them more competitive. They're very fortunate to have the new science building. The organic lab - it's phenomenal. She also noted that at larger institutions, only professors or graduate students get to use state-of-the-art equipment.