Photo courtesy of University of California Athletics Communications
This story was originally published on calbears.com and was written by Tim Miguel.
Most kids wouldn't be too interested in hearing about the details of medical procedures.
But Madeline Jahelka wasn't like most kids.
A sophomore on the California women's lacrosse team, Jahelka was intrigued to learn more about her grandfather's heart condition when she was a child. The knowledge she learned from him and observing the doctors when her grandfather was in the hospital have played a big role in inspiring her to pursue a career in the medical field.
While her long term goals are to become a lung or heart surgeon, she is majoring in astrophysics at Cal, and she said there are a lot of similarities between medicine and physics.
"Modern medicine is so innovative and I love the idea of 'fixing people,'" Jahelka said. "Physics still applies a lot to medicine, especially with things like radiology. Problem solving in general, there are a lot of skills that cross over to both. Why not pursue all of them?"
It was when Jahelka arrived in Berkeley when she decided to tweak her academic goals slightly.
"When I got to Cal, I saw how cool physics is and how cool all the 'toys' are that you can play with when you really get into it," she said. "It captured my imagination. Physics is the most natural extension of what mathematics can do and it finds more purpose behind the numbers. That's what I was interested in."
Working hard isn't anything new for Jahelka. Growing up on a farm in Colorado Springs, Colo., most days she woke up early to feed and tend to the sheep that her family raised before heading off to school. There was always work to do after school around the farm that she divided up with her brothers.
Chores for most kids she knew were things like washing the dishes and cleaning their bedrooms. Jahelka's chores involved shearing the family sheep.
In addition, one of Jahelka's favorite hobbies is cake decorating. She has entered sheep she's raised, as well as cakes that she's decorated in county and state fairs.
Cake decorating and raising sheep may be hobbies, but she still takes them both seriously and wants to be successful at both. She even returns to tending to the sheep every time she goes home.