Bryan Stocker wears his love of abstract art on his sleeve – that is, on his right arm’s full-sleeve tattoo. “It’s a reminder to every day look at the beauty of everything,” he says.
Stocker also has always found science fascinating, but his desire in high school to learn how to change the oil in his car led him to enroll in an automotive program offered by the Des Moines Public Schools. He then landed a full scholarship for the Ford ASSET automotive program at Des Moines Area Community College.
“It was there I realized that I am 100 percent positive I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk,” he says. “I also realized that while I loved figuring out what was wrong and fixing problems, I just didn’t like working on cars.”
So Stocker dove into classes in “everything under the sun,” including in science, to figure out his future. His academic successes showed him he wanted a career in medicine.
“I just needed to focus my energy and time into making it happen,” he adds.
Medical school was no small decision; Stocker and his wife, Christina, have three children, now ages eight, seven and five. She supported his decision, so long as he fully understood his responsibilities at home.
“After a year of never losing focus, my wife saw that I really was serious,” he says. He worked 70 hours a week at two jobs while taking about 20 credits per semester. “It was rough, but it showed me how much I can accomplish and how bad I want it.”
When he learned he’d been accepted at DMU, he had his left arm tattooed as a reward. “It’s an abstract of a neural web,” he explains. “It’s a reminder that no matter how confusing or difficult things are, to break it down and look for the beauty.”
The second-year osteopathic medical student is now in the right place to apply his appreciation of science, art and diagnosis.
“Not a single day goes by that I wish I was doing something else,” he says. “I love studying, and I love learning. I never felt that way in school before.”