Barry McNamara  |  Published May 11, 2023

Med School Match Day

Alumnae Kate Saulcy Baumgartner, Ali Gustafson McDonald and Stephanie Saey reach major milestone in their medical careers.

MONMOUTH, Ill.Kate Saulcy Baumgartner and Ali Gustafson McDonald came to Monmouth College’s attention during the mid-2010s, as coaches and admission counselors recruited the Class of 2019. During that process, the two high school seniors – who did not know each other – rose to the top of their incoming class, each receiving the College’s top academic scholarship.

THEY GO WAY BACK: Scholarship recipients Kate Saulcy Baumgartner and Ali Gustafson McDonald are p... THEY GO WAY BACK: Scholarship recipients Kate Saulcy Baumgartner and Ali Gustafson McDonald are pictured as freshmen in 2015. After they graduated in 2019, they attended the same medical school.Four years later, as their time at Monmouth drew to a close, the two Fighting Scot student-athletes had become so well-acquainted they could finish each other’s sentences. They even selected the same school for the next step in their journey – the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford.

Earlier this year, the alumnae – along with Stephanie Saey ’18, another student-athlete – reached another milestone, making it to Match Day, the day when the National Resident Matching Program releases results to applicants seeking residency and fellowship training positions in the United States.

Saey, who attended Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, was matched for internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Baumgartner will practice both internal medicine and pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, while McDonald is traveling the farthest, heading to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to practice family medicine.


‘A culmination of many, many years’ 

“Words cannot begin to describe the pride I have in my classmates, myself and my mentors and support system,” wrote Saey, who described her emotions as “ecstatic, relieved, grateful and honored.”

She said she started down her current path due to her interest in “the brain, mental health and psychiatry. I wanted to be able to prescribe medicine to my (future) psychiatry patients, but when I got to med school, I realized, ‘I really like all of it – cardiology, pathology, all of it.’”

“It is so surreal to be nearing the end of my medical education. It feels like I just stepped onto Monmouth’s campus for the first time in 2015. Match Day was a culmination of many, many years of hard work for myself and all of my classmates.” Ali Gustafson McDonald


Saey chose Mayo as her match because of its “phenomenal schedule. Their program just blew me away. Mental health and wellness are important to me, and they’re important to Mayo, too. They really take care of their residents. They see me as a learner, not a workhorse.”

McDonald took a moment to reflect on her journey in higher education.

“It is so surreal to be nearing the end of my medical education,” said McDonald. “It feels like I just stepped onto Monmouth’s campus for the first time in 2015. Match Day was a culmination of many, many years of hard work for myself and all of my classmates.”

Like Saey, Baumgartner competed for the Scots in track and cross country. When talking about completing her med school stint, she said, “There are a million metaphors for life that you can take from running.”

“A medical team is composed of so many folks, and even though you’re the doctor, you can’t be the bossy one in charge. You need to be the glue and lead from behind. Overall, my time at Monmouth taught me how to be an adult and provided me skills that I’ve carried forward.” Kate Saulcy Baumgartner


“I still run to this day,” she said. “One of the big things that running teaches you is accountability. Another that I learned from being on the team is leadership skills. A medical team is composed of so many folks, and even though you’re the doctor, you can’t be the bossy one in charge. You need to be the glue and lead from behind. Overall, my time at Monmouth taught me how to be an adult and provided me skills that I’ve carried forward.”

Asked to reflect on a lesson she learned at Monmouth that she returns to often, Baumgartner cited a famous quotation brought to her attention by her cross country coach, Jon Welty ’12.

“I have a million Coach Welty quotes, but one of the ones that really sticks out is, ‘If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.’ That really helped me with my education, knowing that I had to get my homework done first, because that was the priority I was standing for. It helps with running and it helps in the medical world, resisting temptations and remaining true to who you are.”


The ‘human’ side of medicine

While preparing her application for residency, McDonald said she reflected on experiences that motivated her to pursue medicine.

“I kept coming back to what I learned throughout my Monmouth education about the ‘human’ side of medicine, specifically the social determinants of health and the interpersonal implications of illness and disease,” she said. “Learning the pathology and physiology of the human body is only a small part of alleviating illness and suffering. I feel like what I learned at Monmouth helped me connect to patients in a deeper way.”

Baumgartner also referenced that “human” side.

“I’m in what’s called Med/Peds, which is something I didn’t even know existed when I started medical school,” she said. “It’s a combined internal medicine and pediatrics role. I can still see patients over 18, but I can see kids, too. I love the perspective that kids have – not a worry in the world. Kids will give you the truth, and at the end of the day, I need those tiny humans to fill my cup back up.”

Baumgartner said the liberal arts education she received, which included a late change to incorporate global public health as a minor, provided an outstanding foundation for her medical school training.

“I left Monmouth as a person who understands how those sciences connect to people, because that’s how the world is,” she said.


Monmouth skills

“I loved going to Monmouth College,” said Saey. “Any of the cons of being a small liberal arts college are outweighed by the fact that everybody was so supportive. I loved that everybody knew me, and that it wasn’t the competitive environment that you see at universities. Those pre-med communities can be pretty toxic, but at Monmouth, everybody pushed each other to be better, and I liked the individual attention from my professors. I also presented at two national conferences, which is not that common for undergraduates.”

COVER GIRL: While a student, Stephanie Saey was featured on the cover of Monmouth College Magazin... COVER GIRL: While a student, Stephanie Saey was featured on the cover of Monmouth College Magazine.Saey said one of her biggest takeaways from Monmouth was faculty helping her to understand the “why” of her subject matter.

“I really wanted to understand why, and the professors at Monmouth were really good at that,” she said. “Memorization can only take you so far. Providing the why was a general vibe I got from Monmouth’s faculty, and that will take me far in my career.”

Like Baumgartner, McDonald said she not only learned valuable lessons in the classroom, but in competition, too.

“Monmouth really prepared me to not only be a competitive applicant for medical school but also gave me so many of the skills I needed to succeed there,” she said. “The rigor of the pre-medical curriculum in addition to the accessibility and supportiveness of the faculty formed in me such a great foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills and resilience.”

Each fall, she was a member of the volleyball team, coached by Kari Shimmin ’97.

“As an athlete, I was challenged to push myself mentally and physically, too,” said McDonald. “Coach Shimmin believed in me as an athlete and a leader, and her support and guidance of me helped me believe in myself.”

“I loved that everybody knew me, and that it wasn’t the competitive environment that you see at universities. Those pre-med communities can be pretty toxic, but at Monmouth, everybody pushed each other to be better.” Stephanie Saey


Growing up, Baumgartner couldn’t decide whether she wanted to be a teacher or a doctor. Her household now has one of each, as her new husband, Brian Baumgartner ’20, is a teacher.

“It’s kind of a cute moment that it came full circle,” she said. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

McDonald is also a newlywed, as she married her 2019 classmate Connor McDonald on June 4, 2022.

The College’s chemistry department regularly hosts alumni who’ve gone on to big things since graduating from Monmouth, and Saey said that she, along with McDonald and Baumgartner, would be happy to step into that type of role.

“We’re all really grateful to Monmouth, and it would be wonderful to pay it forward to students who might be interested in medicine – to be able to give them advice or serve as mentors,” she said.

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