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Peter Lahti

Peter Lahti ’19

Class Year: 2019
Hometown: Lincoln City, Oregon
Major: Biology (Pre-Med)
Extracurriculars: Football

Life After L&C, 2020 Update

What have you been doing since graduation?

Upon graduation, I studied for and took the Dental Admission Test and also took a summer Anatomy and Physiology course at Portland State University to satisfy all of my dental school prerequisites. After that course ended, I moved down to Scottsdale, Arizona, with my brother for a gap year to take a mental break from classes.

We heard you were admitted into OHSU’s School of Dentistry with a generous scholarship. Congratulations! How do you feel that Lewis & Clark prepared you for this exciting opportunity?

Lewis & Clark did a lot of really great things to shape me to be the person that I am today. I believe that a big part of my acceptance was showing that I was able to attend a rigorous institution, take challenging courses, do extracurriculars on the side, and excel in all of those things. Lewis & Clark challenged me to be a better student, a better athlete, and a better all-around person. I am so grateful that I was able to be surrounded by such incredible people for four years, as I grew immensely.

Looking back, what would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark? 

How to be accountable to myself and others, despite pressures from lack of time and plenty of stress. Playing football and taking a pre-dental course load (while majoring in biology) demanded a lot of time. My professors constantly gave assignments and expected hours and hours of studying outside of the classroom. My coaches expected that I would watch tons of film and keep myself in top physical shape, along with attending the mandatory practices and games. I came in my freshman year completely overwhelmed. By the time that I left as a senior, my professors and coaches no longer had to demand anything of me; I demanded excellence from myself and made it a point to go above and beyond expectations.

What would you like to do after dental school?

The scholarship that I was awarded is a loan-repayment program, meaning that I have a service obligation upon graduation from dental school. I will work in a rural or medically underserved Oregon community for five years when I am done. This was already something that I always thought I would do, as I am from rural Lincoln City, Oregon. I eventually plan to open my own practice and settle down with a family.

Life at L&C

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Eye-opening, diverse, unique

What has been your favorite class so far? How did it expand your knowledge?

Investigations in Cell and Molecular Biology with Professor Greg Hermann. This class was a fairly broad overview of many different concepts in biology. We answered some pretty cool questions like: Why are cells so improbable? How do we convert food into energy? Why is HIV still an epidemic? Greg is an awesome teacher who is extremely excited about biology, and that made a hard class so much better.

“I believe that a liberal arts education is great for preparing somebody for med school.”
What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

Honestly, what initially drew me here was the athletics department. Lewis & Clark was the first school that recruited me, reaching out for both football and baseball, and that was an incredible feeling for me. Then, I did some research and found out that it was a great school as well. My class did a few visits to Lewis & Clark, and it honestly always felt like home to me. I felt comfortable the minute I stepped onto campus. I’m very academically minded, and I knew that I was going to be challenged if I came to Lewis & Clark, so that made a big difference.

Also, I’d say the biggest thing that convinced me to come here, as opposed to flying across the country to go to school in Ohio, was the simple fact that my community could still watch me play and be updated on what I was doing. I’m from a small town on the Oregon Coast where not a lot of athletes are given the opportunity to play college sports. I wanted other high schoolers, and even younger athletes, to see the athletic recruitment process and competition at the next level. Also, having my family—particularly my dad, who was my coach for a long time—be able to see me play in person made all the difference in the world. My mom, dad, grandparents, and a close friend of mine come to every game.

How do you feel that your liberal arts education is preparing you for medical school?

I believe that a liberal arts education is great for preparing somebody for med school. First off, our science programs are incredibly polished with very committed faculty. The courses are challenging, but they are very informational and equipped with plenty of help. The thing about the liberal arts education is that we aren’t just science-minded people; we have to have the kind of mind that can excel in a wide arrange of subjects, whether it’s music, writing, communications, or anything else that is offered here. It makes us more well-rounded individuals.

How do you balance athletics and academics?

Balancing athletics and academics is a grind. There is a lot that is demanded both in the classroom and from my football team. Let’s just say that when I wake up for the day, which is usually around 6 or 7 a.m., I don’t go back to my room until 10 or 11 p.m. Like I said before, I’m very academically minded, and do whatever I can to get on the Dean’s List every semester. I spend most of my time in the library when I’m not in class or doing something for football. It’s just very intense. I think that it’s important not to get so lost and stressed about everything that’s happening. There’s a lot that’s thrown at you between athletics and academics for sure, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I think that it’s extremely important to find time to blow some steam off. I take plenty of breaks in the library. I always take my time on the walk back to my room from the library to just breathe the fresh air and reflect a little bit on how lucky I am to be here. Also, I like to enjoy as much time with friends as possible.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

I love the walkways above the reflecting pool, especially late at night or really early in the morning (so when the sun is setting or rising). It’s a quiet place that is incredibly beautiful.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?

I love how our campus is technically in Portland, but it is more isolated. I’m from a very small town of about 8,000 people, so I can get tired of the big city pretty quickly. Lewis & Clark has a small town feel, so I love that. I do get my urges for the big city though, and I like how downtown is so accessible. Also, Portland has so many businesses and corporations that are always looking to work with college students. It’s a fantastic place to network. I’ve always been interested in Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), and many other companies of that caliber, and simply living in Portland and being a student-athlete at Lewis & Clark has exposed me to all of these places. I can’t put a price on that.

What’s your best Lewis & Clark memory so far?

This year, I got my third interception of the year against Whitworth University at home in front of my parents and grandparents. Everybody was hyped up, especially since I jumped it and stole it away from a receiver. That was a huge adrenaline spike, and I don’t think I’ll forget it any time soon.

How do you manage stress?

Everything that I mentioned above with balancing school and sports. I take time to breathe and reflect, I meditate from time to time, I go to social activities with friends, and I think that the best way that I manage stress is simply exercising. Playing football, lifting weights, and running is what keeps me sane with the crazy class schedules.

Do you have a job on campus? If so, how do you fit work into your schedule?

I actually have two. I am a digital media producer for the Career Center and a writing and photo assistant in the Alumni and Parent Programs Office. I honestly don’t work a whole lot, maybe four or five hours a week, but that is plenty with my schedule. I usually do the bulk of my work on the weekends, where I have more time than during the week.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Come check out Lewis & Clark in person. Pictures do show its beauty, but there is nothing like being here in person. It’s going to be different for everybody, but I felt right at home when I stepped on campus. Even if you don’t know quite yet what you want to study, I encourage you to come to Lewis & Clark. With a liberal arts education, you don’t have to pick right away. It’s a very easy place to explore and find your interests. Reach out to whomever you can, and try to get in contact with current students to get a real look at Lewis & Clark. That’s the best way to know how the school is.

How has Lewis & Clark changed you?

Lewis & Clark has given me an opportunity to look at who I really am as a person. It was the first time that I was really away from home and on my own. I wouldn’t say that it has “made me realize who I truly am,” but I would say that it has given me the opportunity to learn more about myself. My first night on campus, I was so homesick that I contemplated leaving and going to a community college back home. I went home every weekend that I could my first semester here. Then, the people and the community took me in and I was able to see what a great place Lewis & Clark was. I ended up not even going home for the summer after my first year, and instead took an internship up in Washington. Lewis & Clark has helped me to mature in a big way. I have been able to handle any situation that has been thrown at me thus far, and that’s largely due to all the support that Lewis & Clark has offered me, whether it being the people, the classes, the feeling of independence, the constant battle for sanity in the library (kidding, kinda), or everything else that’s offered at this school. I think very highly of Lewis & Clark, and I hope that prospective students, as well as current students, think the same way.

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