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Lehmkuhle gets the question from parents “all the time”: Will graduating from this university guarantee a spot in Mayo Medical School?
“No, that’s not the nature of the relationship,” he said. “I don’t believe those kinds of programs work. Students have to earn their way in.”
Several seniors have.
Salk, one of the few still planning on med school, is already a lab technician at Mayo’s Vaccine Research Group. She works alongside postdoctoral fellows — running tests, sending data and writing papers. During one class final presentation earlier this month, Salk wrapped up by asking if there were any questions. Her instructor, Andrew Petzold, had one: “Do you know how effective looking at antibody titer levels in a younger population is?”
Salk’s partner demurred, saying that the researcher hadn’t gone into that. But Salk stepped up. “From work, I know that … in the young, it’s still a good measure of protective immunity,” she began.
Petzold nodded as she spoke, pleased.
When Lehmkuhle took the job in 2007, consultants warned: “Beware of your first class. You’ll get so attached to them,” he said.
The first semester, in 2009, Lehmkuhle invited the freshmen over for dinner, eight or so at a time. Salk was “so nervous,” she said. “And now it’s just like, ‘Oh hey, chancellor.’ ”
Salk remembers him telling the group to expect challenging, rigorous classes, but promised that they’d have ready access to faculty and coaches’ help.
“Everything he said was right on,” she said. “It was hard. It was rewarding. I had all the help I needed.”
On Saturday, before the ceremony in the big arena, Lehmkuhle again hosted the group — this time for breakfast. He moved from table to table, joking with some, asking others about their plans. Then he got the room’s attention.
“I have a lot of mixed feelings about today,” he said, choking up. “I’m going to miss you dearly.”
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168