Tuesday, May 22, 2012, was a pretty big day for recent Gustavus Adolphus College graduate Ben Johnson-Tesch ’12. Not only did the day mark the last day of academics for Johnson-Tesch at Gustavus as he finished up his spring semester finals, but he also received some exciting news from the University of Minnesota Medical School.
A letter from the Dean of the Medical School Aaron Friedman informed the Eden Prairie native that he had been selected to receive the school’s Dean’s Scholarship, which provides recipients with full tuition for four years of medical school. Selection criteria for the scholarship includes academic achievement, high academic potential, evidence of outstanding leadership, creativity, unique work or service experience, community involvement, and special talents.
“I literally started shaking when I read the email and it was a great way to end my last day of academics at Gustavus,” Johnson-Tesch said.
Johnson-Tesch is a classic example of a student who took full advantage of everything Gustavus has to offer an undergraduate student in four years. He graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He was involved in peer mentoring with the chemistry department for two years, served as a chemistry tutor during his sophomore year, and received honorable mention recognition from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation in 2010.
Outside of the science laboratory, Johnson-Tesch was also involved in music throughout his four years at Gustavus. The past three years he played trombone for the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, which allowed him to embark on several tours including one to Central Europe during his sophomore year and one to Florida during his senior year.
“Outside of the sciences, music has played an integral role in providing balance to my life,” Johnson-Tesch said. “Douglas Nimmo has always encouraged and supported this balance, and my time involved with music at Gustavus has allowed me to play wonderful music with incredible people in locations all over the world.”
But perhaps the most rewarding experience academically for Johnson-Tesch during his four years at Gustavus was the opportunity to engage in research alongside Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biology Brenda Kelly for two summers, one semester, and one January Interim Experience. Johnson-Tesch and Kelly’s project was titled “Insights into Irreversible Binding of Buthionine Sulfoximine and its Derivatives to gamma-Glutamylcysteine ligase,” and was presented at the Experimental Biology 2011 Conference in Washington, D.C.
“The professors at Gustavus made my education, and I say that without hyperbole,” Johnson-Tesch said. “Of particular note, Brenda Kelly was the professor who catalyzed my interests in the sciences my first semester at Gustavus. She noticed my aptitude for the sciences even before I realized it, and she encouraged me to pursue my interests in the sciences.”
“Even in his first semester at Gustavus, Ben was a student who strived to understand and make connections between the material in all of his courses,” Kelly said. “Research fueled his passion for learning and science as he learned to ask and pursue his own scientific research questions.”
When he wasn’t busy conducting research or playing the trombone, Johnson-Tesch also found time to volunteer at an adult day center for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and shadow doctors and surgeons at River’s Edge Hospital in St. Peter.
With his undergraduate work in the rearview mirror, Johnson-Tesch is now excited to focus on his career in medicine.
“I have interests in surgery, cardiology, and neurology, however with that said, I plan to go into medical school with an open mind and allow my experiences and interests in medical school dictate my ultimate course in medicine.”