Even though she graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stout on Saturday, Dec. 14, it’s safe to say that the next phase of Maggie Freiermuth’s life began some time ago.
It may have been two years ago when she became a volunteer emergency medical technician at her hometown Elmwood Area Ambulance. Or maybe it was the time recently when her EMT pager went off and she had to decide between taking her scheduled exam at UW-Stout or responding to the call.
She’s glad she chose the latter, especially because other volunteers weren’t available. “It was a woman had who had fallen. She’d hurt her back, and it took her four hours to crawl to a phone in her kitchen. She was in so much pain,” said Freiermuth.
The professor understood why Freiermuth missed class and let her reschedule the exam.
Freiermuth’s chosen future also may have begun many years ago with an even bigger dream. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” she said.
With her degree in applied biochemistry and molecular biology, one of 750 December graduates in two ceremonies at UW-Stout, Freiermuth will begin applying to medical schools next spring for fall 2021 enrollment.
Her goal: become an emergency room physician. “It’s such a good feeling to know you can help someone with the worst day of their life,” she said.
Based on her accomplishments at UW-Stout, she appears to have a bright future. She is graduating from a demanding major with honors in 3½ years. She did that while working not just as an EMT in Elmwood but for Durand Municipal Ambulance Service for 1½ years and the last five months with Dunn County First Responders.
“If I get a page at 2 a.m., I’m up just like that,” she said. She passed EMT training as a sophomore at UW-Stout.
While applying to medical schools, she will study for and take the MCAT — medical college admission test. Also, in June she’ll begin a paramedic program at Chippewa Valley Technical College and expects to finish in a year. With paramedic certification, her role with the ambulance services can expand, she said.
'I feel I’m prepared’
Freiermuth was salutatorian in Elmwood High School’s class of 2016 and chose UW-Stout over the University of Minnesota largely to save money for medical school. She is a first-generation college student and has helped pay her way through school with jobs in the university’s Financial Aid office and as a biology tutor.
“Little did I know how much I’d like it here at UW-Stout,” she said. “I’m extremely happy with my education. I feel I’m prepared.”
She has a burning desire to learn — “I love school. Even the Thanksgiving break seemed too long” — and credits her professors for much of her success.
“With a smaller school like Stout, you’re able to build a relationship with the professors. You’re around them so much, even when you’re not in class. I’ll even see them at Walmart and they’ll stop and talk,” she said. “They all care about you and want to get to know you.”
She came to UW-Stout not particularly interested in research. That changed quickly. As a first-year student, she did DNA research involving rats. As a sophomore, she helped with a honey bee immune system research project.
As a junior, Freiermuth did an independent research project on zebra mussels under Professor Jen Grant, biology. The project, ongoing, involves extracting shell proteins and could help eradicate the invasive species. Her project took second place in a national research contest in Orlando.
“I’ve really had to push myself because the major is so hard. I’ve learned so much. I didn’t think I’d like the research part, but now I can’t wait to get back into the lab,” she said.
Freiermuth received several research grants from UW-Stout, including writing the proposal for the Orlando presentation.
Grant called Freiermuth “an all-around excellent student who embodies the Stout way. Tutoring, research and academic, Maggie gives her 110%. Her talent is impressive, and that includes her skills in the laboratory.”
Even though Freiermuth has commuted about 20 minutes from Elmwood the past three years to save money, she has been active socially on campus, including as president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology club.
“She’s done an amazing job leading ASBMB through this year,” Grant said.
“They say you meet your best friends in college. All my best friends are in my classes,” Freiermuth said.
She is the first from her family to earn a college diploma and would be the first to go into medicine.
She could add to the growing number — more than 100 — of recent UW-Stout alumni who have become doctors. Several undergraduate programs have a preprofessional track that prepares them for medical school.
A May 2018 graduate, for example, Trever Koester, began studying at Harvard Medical School this fall.
“I love science and medicine and the human body — it’s so elegant. I want to use my knowledge to improve other people’s lives,” Freiermuth said.
Maggie Freiermuth graduates Saturday, Dec. 14, from UW-Stout in applied biochemistry and molecular biology. She plans to go to medical school and become an emergency room physician.
Freiermuth is a volunteer EMT in her hometown with Elmwood Area Ambulance, as well as with Durand Municipal Ambulance and Dunn County First Responders.