10 things to know about DMU’s Anatomy Ambassador President

Megan Fagalde, a student in DMU’s master of anatomy program, singlehandedly transformed DMU’s engagement with high school students across the state of Iowa in her time at the University. Megan came to me about a year and half ago with so many ideas about how to make our Anatomy Ambassador program topnotch, as she had been involved in a program similar to it during her undergraduate years. Not only is she smart, ambitious and kind; she also has a lot of cool things to share with us:

Megan Fagalde holds the power of anatomy in her hands – figuratively and literally.
  1. She met Des Moines’ own child prodigy. When Megan was giving an organ demonstration for fifth-graders at a Des Moines elementary school, the teacher asked if she could bring in a kindergartner who attended the school. Normally Megan doesn’t allow kids this young to be exposed to the real organs, but the teacher insisted. Turns out the young boy was taking math with the fifth-graders and was well above elementary level in intelligence. He started asking the DMU students questions about brain structures that most medical students don’t even know yet.
  2. She initially thought she wanted to be a physician assistant after getting her M.S.A. Her love for anatomy and work as an anatomy teaching assistant changed everything. Ultimately, she realized there were other ways to be a part of medicine that were better suited to her talents. She shared, “I may not be physically treating the patient, but I am showing future providers where to palpate or where to place an injection.”
  3. She just committed to attending Indiana University this fall to get her Ph.D. in anatomy. She is on the education track in the program and plans on becoming a professor of anatomy.
  4. She became the president of Anatomy Ambassadors because of her passion to improve and change the program. In her first semester at DMU, she talked to Don Matz, Ph.D., chair of the anatomy department, about ways to get more involved in the lab, outside of her normal class schedule. After she began volunteering with Anatomy Ambassadors, she saw so many gaps and flaws in the programming. She wanted to make it better and did just that. Under her leadership, DMU Anatomy Ambassadors were trained on how to educate K-12 students about anatomy, and the amount of tours and engagements the Anatomy Ambassadors did throughout the year doubled.
  5. Her favorite muscle is the sternocleidomastoid (and it’s also her Wi-Fi password).
  6. Her favorite part about Anatomy Ambassadors is being able to give kids advice that she never got when she was young and interested in medicine and science.
  7. She has a twin brother, who works in coding.
  8. She will never forget sending Dr. Matz a calendar invite entitled “life chat” and having him accept it immediately. She met with him and laid out everything that was going on in her life when she was thinking of making the switch from becoming a physician assistant to pursuing a Ph.D. in anatomy. She couldn’t have done it without his guidance and mentorship. Is that okay? (NOTE: Dr. Matz is famous for uttering this phrase frequently in his classes – so much so that once his students made large signs, one with YES and one with NO, that they held up during a lecture every time he said his famous “is that okay?” Those signs now hang in his office.)
  9. When she was little, she wanted to be a veterinarian. She decided against it as she hated to ever see animals in pain.
  10. Her boyfriend is a second-year M.D. student at Wayne State in Detroit. They are hoping he gets residency in Indianapolis so they can be together. 
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