W&M Alumni are amazing. Sure there are the really famous ones — Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Glenn Close, Jon Stewart, Mike Tomlin — but there are also equally accomplished alums whose names maybe aren’t as recognizable but should be — Serge Kovaleski (recipient of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize), Patton Oswald (comedian and star of Ratatouille), and General David McKiernan (Commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people). Last week I found out that the inspiration for and medical advisor to one of my favorite shows, House, is also a W&M alum.
Dr. Lisa Sanders (’79) didn’t follow the most traditional path to medicine. She majored in English at the College and began a career in broadcast journalism when she graduated. She first worked for ABC’s Good Morning America and then worked for CBS covering the first Gulf War. Not until age 36 did she enter medical school at Yale where she became fascinated by doctors’ diagnostic processes. Upon graduating, she combined her initial academic passion with her new one to create the column “Diagnosis” for the New York Times Magazine. Her column caught the attention of one of the executive producers of House and the rest is history.
Many W&M students want to be a doctor and many of our alumni succeed in becoming one. But only a place like W&M, with its emphasis on a liberal arts education and its focus on writing, research, and pursuit of academic passion, can develop strong, independent, brilliant alumni like Dr. Sanders who can combine two seemingly opposite passions into a truly unique and inspiring professional pursuit.
W&M alumni continue to amaze and inspire me, and apparently they can even impact my Monday night television ritual.
– Wendy Livingston