Going for Gold
Perhaps it’s only natural that a biathlete would pursue degrees in medicine and public health. Like biathlon—a sport combining Nordic skiing with target shooting—dual degree programs require the mastery of two disciplines through focus and endurance. It’s the skillset Carolyn Treacy Bramante called on to anchor the U.S. women’s relay team at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and bring them to their best finish ever.
Now the MD/MPH student is bringing impressive results at the University of Minnesota. In just two years on campus, she has founded a 250-volunteer-strong program that delivers health care to homeless individuals. She has headed up the U’s chapter of Physicians for Human Rights, a group she represented at an AIDS summit in Washington, D.C. She has volunteered at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic, a student-run facility serving uninsured, underserved, and undocumented patients.
Those efforts have earned her the President’s Student Leadership and Service Award and the Mary A. McEvoy Award for Public Engagement and Leadership. Both honors are bestowed on U students who go well above their typical duties.
Bramante’s master’s project aims to improve workplace physical activity by evaluating short videos designed to get workers away from their desks and moving. The videos are inspired by research showing that just 10 minutes of daily physical activity can bolster health. She’s invited Olympic friends like Apolo Ohno and other athletes to appear in the video series. Small businesses as well as biggies, including three Minnesota-based Fortune 500 companies, have expressed interest in providing the resources to employees.
Bramante says that leaving world-class competition behind has helped her appreciate exercise in new ways. It’s a message she hopes comes across in her project.
“It’s all about the excitement of reaching a new level of fitness,” she says. “That sense of accomplishment is the same, whether you’re winning a medal or biking to work.”