Los Altos Rhodes Scholar

Posted on December 15, 2016 by  
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alexis-doyleFrom guide dogs to culinary architecture, Los Altos native Alexis Doyle has worked across fields as a young scholar, but she had to learn to knit it all together – not only as a pre-medical student, but as a candidate proving her bona fides for a Rhodes Scholarship. She joined the incoming class of Rhodes Scholars last month, earning one of the nation’s most prestigious scholastic honors.

Doyle frames the notoriously rigorous Rhodes interview as a “fun and challenging experience.” The conversation ranged from the character-building failures of learning to train a guide dog to her research into parasitic infection in Guatemala.

A St. Francis High School graduate and a senior at the University of Notre Dame, Doyle is already slated to attend the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai after she finishes her stint at Oxford University. The medical school has the unusual practice of admitting its future doctors in their sophomore year of undergraduate study, enabling them to focus on disciplines “tangential to medicine” in the last two years of undergrad, Doyle explained.

“There was a project I was working on in Guatemala, and an interest in health policy that I wanted to pursue,” she said. “I didn’t have to take the time to study for the med school admissions test and apply to a bunch of med schools – instead, I could invest that time in service work in the community, and projects and research that don’t fit into the medical school applicant mold.”

That includes work in an architecture lab at Notre Dame focused on building healthy environments. Doyle worked on a school cafeteria project looking at how to design a space to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption, and then a project on urban green spaces that promote physical activity.

In Guatemala, she saw how raging parasitic infections reduced a child’s ability to concentrate in school, a high-stakes debility in a system where students often have only a few years of schooling available to them.

She worked with mothers in the community to start a small business to fund soap for the classrooms – a way to prevent or reduce infection in the first place. As a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Doyle will have two fully funded years to study health, policy and whatever else she devises before returning to medical school in the U.S.

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