Central College’s campus was mostly empty when Dr. Denise Mandi and her husband Dr. Vince Mandracchia were first introduced to the school. It was the summer of 2008, so there were no students filling the sidewalks, and many of the faculty offices were empty.
Coming up on his junior year of high school, their eldest son V.J. had decided to make a campus visit—well, had been coerced, really. Despite the fact that he didn’t have any particular interest in applying, his younger brother Devin had convinced him to visit campus after he had attended Central’s annual drum major camp for high school students.
V.J., who had an interest in music, begrudgingly agreed to go. When they arrived on campus, the family’s admission guide informed them that, luckily, they could meet with associate professor of music Gabriel Espinosa, who leads Central’s jazz programs.
“We spent about an hour with Espinosa,” Vince recalls. And it was “on his day off, during the summer,” he adds emphatically
“He totally sold V.J. and all of us on the school,” Denise confirms. “He showed a sincere interest in our son, and he was just so passionate about the school. It made quite an impression on us.”
When the family walked out of Espinosa’s office in the Cox-Snow Music Center, the parents had been won over. Out of earshot of their son, they commented to one another how unfortunate it was V.J. had no interest in the school. “It couldn’t have been five minutes later that he turned to his mom and said, ‘I’m coming to Central,’” says Vince.
At the beginning of the next week, the doctors returned to work at Broadlawns Medical Center, where Vince serves as chief medical officer and his wife is the section chief of foot and ankle surgery. In friendly conversations with their coworkers, they mentioned the wonderful experience they had visiting Central College.
After that something unexpected happened. “It’s like you buy a car that you haven’t noticed before and suddenly you see it on the road a lot,” Vince says of the phenomenon. They suddenly discovered that many of their coworkers at Broadlawns were Central alumni. Not only that, but several of the standout medical interns had graduated from Central before moving on to medical school.
Both Denise and her husband feel that the liberal arts education Central provides translates well into the medical profession. It must, she insists, when so often “you have a really outstanding resident that catches your eye, you do a little digging and you find out that they’re from Central.”
“Another thing I like about Central a lot,” adds Vince, “is that it broadens your horizons.” It seems that the broad range of knowledge students receive translates well into the medical field. Vince can’t help but be impressed with Central’s health sciences program, and the way they supplement medical knowledge with an expansive liberal arts education.
Medicine, these two doctors believe, requires more than just a technical knowledge of the human body. True medicine requires intuition, thoughtfulness and creativity. “We always mention the art of medicine,” Vince explains. “That’s always the way we describe it.”
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