Mimi Bradley is well aware of the role that physical fitness and nutrition play in overall health and well-being. And for her, it’s personal.
Bradley, who will graduate from the University of Missouri–St. Louis later this week with an undergraduate degree in biology and a minor in psychology, grew up with severe scoliosis. Over the years, she saw firsthand how strength training and engaging in athletics helped her overcome and avoid a spinal surgery.
“Keeping my muscles strong and implementing an active lifestyle allowed me to see unheard of improvements with my spine,” she said. “Seeing how that has affected my own health inspires me to coach patients through similar healthy lifestyles.”
Throughout her time at UMSL, as a student-athlete on the softball team, Bradley learned how important diet and nutrition are in overall health and athletic performance. She experienced night-and-day differences in her stomach health and energy levels as she adjusted the quality of her diet.
“I’ve seen some great changes through implementing those prevention-type mechanisms, so I’m super passionate about helping patients do similar things with their lives in the future,” she said. “I’m a student-athlete, so being physically active and eating well are very important to me. Moving forward, I really desire to be someone that encourages patients to follow a healthy lifestyle and implement changes through physical fitness and nutrition when possible to work toward achieving their medical and health goals.”
On July 11, Bradley will take the next step in that path when she starts medical school at Kansas City University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. After visiting potential schools in Missouri, Kansas, Maine and Virginia, Bradley chose Kansas City University partly because she wanted to be able to stay in the Midwest and partly because she was drawn to the school’s many service opportunities, including mission trips.
A native of Hartland, Wisconsin, Bradley came into UMSL undecided, and initially debated between pursuing a math major or health sciences. Shadowing a few physicians in different specialties such as an obstetrician/gynecologist, orthopedic sports medicine doctor, physical therapist and neurologist – as well as her father, a family practice physician – helped crystallize her next steps.
“I am thinking I want to go into primary care of some kind because of the relationships that primary care physicians are able to form with their patients,” she said. “My dad treats some four- or five-generation families, which I think is so incredible. And seeing the trust that those patients put into my dad as their physician is something that I aspire to have with the patients that I hope to one day serve. When we’re out in the community at home when I’m with my dad, oftentimes patients will come up to him and act like they know me when I’m with him. I’ve never met these people, but the relationship they have together really extends beyond the walls of the medical setting, which I also think is super incredible. To be able to have those impacts on patients one day is something that inspires me.”
Looking back, Bradley feels like UMSL has set her up well as she embarks on her next steps. She’s formed personal relationships with many professors across the university who have offered crucial support not only during her undergraduate career but also as she looks to her future, including helping her write a personal statement, navigating the pre-med process and applying to medical schools.
“I feel like UMSL has provided me with everything I’ve needed to succeed,” she said. “The professors here truly care about students and if you put in the work and the investment and show interest in the classes, those professors are going to give you everything you need to succeed. A lot of my friends are at other universities where they don’t even know their professors’ names and professors don’t know them.”
Bradley also believes her experience as a student-athlete has helped her grow and will serve her well both in medical school and, later, as a physician. Her experience pitching for the Tritons has taught her skills such as time management, teamwork, dealing with adversity and learning how to overcome failure.
“To be successful as a softball player, all you have to do is hit the ball three out of 10 times, but you’re still failing more than you are succeeding,” she said. “Learning how to figure out who I am outside of the sport and understanding that I’m not defined by my performance on the softball field were big things that I’ve worked through during the five years that I’ve been here. Also, teamwork, collaboration, being able to work with other people – those will all be important as I continue down the medical field route and work on a health care team with different professionals.”
“Being able to work with a diverse set of individuals is something that I’ve learned through athletics as well. The diversity that UMSL offers has taught me a lot because I came from a town where there was not much diversity. Being able to come here and learn about St. Louis, the history of St. Louis, and the diversity of the city have definitely helped me grow as an individual as well.”