Alumni mentors make a major difference

Any medical student or graduate can relate: That first year of medical school can make one lose sight of why he or she chose to pursue a medical career. That’s what drove Jordan Womack, a firstyear student in DMU’s College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, to find a physician to shadow over the December holiday break. Ronnette Vondrak, DMU’s director of alumni relations, connected him with Robert Greenhagen, D.P.M.’08, who practices with the Foot and Ankle Center in Omaha, NE.

“I sent him an e-mail and he wrote right back,” Womack says. “He was totally flexible in when I could shadow him. It was so refreshing to get out into a clinic, because we don’t get that our first year.”

Greenhagen and other DMU graduates who participate in the University’s mentor program make invaluable differences to students in sharing knowledge and professional expertise. Womack observed him perform three surgeries – a hammertoe repair and two ankle surgeries.

“He was so meticulous. He slowed down during surgery so he could explain everything he was doing,” Womack says. “It was great that he not only gave me his time, but that he also wanted to teach me.”

By helping individual students, DMU mentors ensure the continued high quality of their profession.

Mentors inspire, too. First-year CPMS student Travis Langan wasn’t sure which medical field he should pursue as an undergraduate biology major at Wayne State College; his interactions with mentor Robert Colligan, D.P.M.’95, were among the factors that got him excited about podiatry.

“I was so impressed by how excited he was that I wanted to shadow him. He really painted this picture of podiatry that I could not resist,” Langan says. “He helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The benefits of DMU’s mentor program go both ways. Colligan recalls his own undergraduate uncertainties about medical careers as well as his grandfather’s diabetic complications, including gangrene in his legs. He gained a mentor in Fremont, NE, podiatrist Larry Lefler, D.P.M., past president of the American Podiatric Medical Association, who had a “profoundly positive impact” on him.

“I realized if I could be just like Dr. Lefler, maybe some day I could save the life of someone else’s grandfather/ grandmother,” says Colligan, who practices with Midwest Health Partners, P.C., in Norfolk, NE. “But I also consider [mentoring] a win-win proposition. Promoting our profession from within helps to promote our profession amongst other medical professions as well.”

Want to influence and inspire a future member of your profession? Join DMU’s mentor program. You control your preferred contact method, and your information will be available only to DMU students on a secure website. Visit to learn more and register.

Scroll to Top