While many factors came into play, the simplified story is that Edee Wildman’s path to podiatric medicine was first cleared by an “absolutely crazy” pig named Rosa.
Growing up in Santa Cruz, CA, Edee Wildman joined 4-H at age 8, built a pig barn with her father on their two-acre property and began raising pigs at age 9. Rosa was her first.
“I distinctly remember chasing her around our house, both of us covered in mud. She actually escaped from the county fair and ran two miles off the fairgrounds before we caught up with her,” says Wildman, a third-year podiatric medical student. “I kept raising pigs because I love pigs. Every pig is different and has a new personality. Every pig I buy or breed is a new adventure, and I learned more every year.”
That was due in large part to Wildman’s discipline and drive. She rose at 5:30 a.m. every day to care for her herd, often going to school in work boots “covered in pig poop.” At 13, she purchased her first sow to produce piglets, learning the fine art of breeding online and by reaching out to arguably the best hog producers in the world: people in Iowa, including the animal science faculty at Iowa State University. “By phone, they talked this high schooler through the breeding process,” Wildman recalls.
She continued to breed, raise and sell pigs, winning numerous county fairs for showmanship. She experimented with different feed, including grape skins from a local vineyard and mash from breweries. She also twice participated in summer livestock judging camps at Iowa State. When the time came, she applied to the university. Her porcine proceeds paid her tuition.
Initially an animal science major, Wildman joined the pre-medicine club and found herself drawn to human genetics. She switched majors and met with DMU admissions representatives who came to campus. When the Iowa State pre-med club came to Des Moines for Discover DMU Day, an event for prospective students, she learned about podiatric medicine.
“It was the perfect storm. I wanted to be a human fixer, but if I wanted to help people, I didn’t want to have to tell anyone they’re dying,” she says. “As podiatric physicians, we have the motivation and skills to save the foot.”
Wildman interviewed at seven of the nation’s nine podiatric institutions, was accepted by all and selected DMU’s College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery (CPMS). Last year, she joined a Des Moines club of Toastmasters International, which helps members hone their speaking and leadership skills. Her motivation: to share the results of research she’s conducting with CPMS Dean Robert Yoho, D.P.M., M.S., FACFAS.
“I hope to go to as many national conferences as I can,” she says, “and I want to be more confident speaking to groups.”