Program in Liberal Medical Education

Student Stories

Learn more about the students who have chosen the PLME path and their experiences along the way.

  • Jasmine Powell

    Jasmine Powell '22 MD'26

    Jasmine Powell always knew she wanted to be a doctor. But she loved the humanities as much as she loved science, especially languages—she took Latin and French at her high school near Philadelphia. 

    “I knew that Brown would be the perfect place for me to continue to expand on these varied interests because of the Open Curriculum,” Jasmine says. “I decided to apply to the PLME specifically because of its goal of creating well-rounded physicians. The program’s unique approach, which encourages a liberal arts undergraduate education, was exactly what I was looking for.”

    Jasmine is double concentrating in public health and urban studies, which she says are helping her to better understand policy, politics, and the “upstream factors that influence health. This information will help to contextualize my role as a physician in the greater health care system.” She has continued taking French, too—and had hoped to study abroad in Paris, before pandemic restrictions scuttled those plans. Nonetheless, she notes, “All of this would have been very difficult to do for someone in a traditional premed program.”

    PLME also has allowed Jasmine the time to lead a rich extracurricular life—she loves politics, and is president of the University’s largest political organization, the Brown College Democrats—and to pursue “amazing” research internships, at Brown-affiliated Women & Infants Hospital and at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. 

    Both experiences, she says, “helped to show me the value of research beyond work at the bench. My research internships have made me interested in continuing to be involved with research once I am a physician.”

  • Victoria Koenigsberger

    Victoria Koenigsberger ’21 MD’25

    When aspiring doctor Victoria Koenigsberger was paired with a computer science concentrator at a program for prospective Brown students, she thought it was a mistake. “But the mix-up ... turned out to be the best thing that could’ve happened to me,” she says, because it “showed me that Brown was an open-minded campus where people are all collaborative and tend to be service-oriented, but are different and passionate in their own unique ways.”

    Victoria says the PLME further embodies that spirit. Growing up in Wilton, CT, and Guatemala City, she saw medicine as a way to work with underserved populations and help immigrants navigate the complex US health care system. “I specifically felt that the PLME’s commitment to community engagement and learning from diverse perspectives would enable me to gain a greater appreciation for both the social and humanistic aspects of medicine, in addition to the scientific ones,” she says.

    Though she’s concentrating in public health, the PLME has allowed Victoria to take a number of Hispanic studies courses and indulge her love of Latin American literature. She has connected with Providence’s large Guatemalan population as a volunteer at the Rhode Island Free Clinic and Clínica Esperanza, where she’s the outreach director. She’s also in her sixth year as an emergency medical technician with the Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps. “Being an EMT has taught me the value of teamwork under challenging and unpredictable circumstances, and empathy when it comes to comforting patients at their most vulnerable hours,” she says.

    As the president of Brown’s Community Health Advocacy Program, Victoria helps connect other PLME students with Providence’s youth and older adult communities through education, music, and art. She’s also a PLME liaison to the Medical Student Senate, and uses her down time to run, explore the state’s bike trails, and relax with a cup of tea.

    “I consider the PLME to be a tremendous gift because it’s given me the freedom to explore,” she says. That will make her a better doctor, she adds, because it “encourages me to develop a broad-based perspective of medicine, which helps foster a sense of empathy and understanding, and in turn teaches me to treat the whole patient—rather than just the illness.”

  • Silas Monje

    Silas Monje '21 MD'25

    Growing up on tiny Block Island, a popular tourist destination off Rhode Island’s southern coast, taught Silas Monje the value of service. “Nearly every member of our community takes part in the longstanding tradition of volunteerism,” he says, from offering financial support to help families get through the slow tourism season to his chosen activity as a member of the volunteer ambulance crew. 

    It was that experience—along with an internship in the island’s medical center—that convinced Silas to go into medicine. “After one summer of working on an ambulance, I couldn’t picture myself in any other field,” he says. When a science teacher at his high school (graduating class of five) told him about the PLME, he was sold. “The PLME checked all the boxes,” he says. “Being a member of this program meant that I was able to dedicate time to activities outside of the classroom that I believe will make me a better doctor, such as teaching and volunteering.”

    A neuroscience concentrator, Silas began doing research as a sophomore in the lab of Gilad Barnea, PhD, the Sidney A. Fox and Dorothea Doctors Fox Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Visual Sciences, and Neuroscience; he says he got to spend more time there than a traditional premed program might have allowed. He also mentored other students; helped lead a new PLME course on Wilderness, Disasters, and Global Health; and continued working at the Block Island Medical Center. 

    Without the MCAT and a daunting list of course requirements to complete, Silas also had time to explore his extracurricular interests. A pianist, he says music is his “biggest passion outside of medicine.” He also loves cycling, writing, and woodworking, and he was a proud member of the men’s rugby team—“an experience that has given me an amazing group of friends and lifetime worth of experiences,” he says. 

    “The PLME will help me become a better doctor by allowing me to focus on rounding out my abilities during my undergrad years, instead of solely focusing on grades,” Silas says. “I have loved every minute of the last four years at Brown and am incredibly lucky to have four more to look forward to.”

  • Kevin Chen

    Kevin Chen '19 MD'23 ScM'23

    Kevin Chen describes his high school self as a “jack of all trades.” He enjoyed a range of subjects and hoped, when he got to college, to continue to “dabble” in all of them even as he pursued a premedical education. 

    “With its Open Curriculum, Brown was an easy choice, and I would say PLME was the cherry on top,” says the San Marino, CA, native. “PLME seemed to offer the perfect mix of flexibility and security.” 

    Kevin concentrated in public health and statistics, but felt free to explore his interests in psychology, politics, and technology. “Being a PLME allowed me to feel confident that I could try whatever I wanted,” he says—including an internship at the FBI, where he worked with the team investigating health care fraud. 

    While he’d learned of the health care system’s injustices as he studied public health, what he saw with the FBI “horrified” him, Kevin says. “I am fairly certain that if our country treated health care as a right and not a commodity, we would not have to allocate government resources to tracking down fraudsters who prioritize financial gain over patient welfare,” he says. His experience reaffirmed his “belief that our health care system is broken.”

    But Kevin is poised to do something about it. He’s now a student in Brown’s Primary Care-Population Medicine program, earning a master’s degree alongside his MD. The program prepares students for leadership roles in health care research, education, and policy as well as clinical service. 

    “I chose to pursue the PC-PM program because I thought it was the natural next step for me to continue my exploration of public health issues through a physician-based lens,” Kevin says. He believes the program, along with his PLME education, are giving him “a good grasp of the science underlying medicine, the social and political forces that govern our conceptualization of health care, and a positive attitude toward working with patients and colleagues.”