Biochemistry alumnus Noah Schrayer received an acceptance letter from Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) in February 2021. As he opened the letter, the December 2020 graduate reflected on his high school field trip to VCOM. He enjoyed seeing the student life aspect of medical school, hearing about the differences between osteopathic and allopathic medicine, and learning about the healthcare system and its functions in more detail. Despite his excitement and interest, after the field trip, Schrayer initially didn’t think he was cut out for medical school. 

“I definitely had impostor syndrome. I thought that I wouldn't be able to go to medical school because I went to high school in Appalachia,” Schrayer said. “I didn’t think I’d master the science and math courses that I needed in order to be in the health field. When I started community college though, my attitude changed. I remembered thinking to myself that maybe I could actually do this.”

After a year at community college, Schrayer enrolled in Virginia Tech as a transfer student and became a student in the Department of Biochemistry, which is in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “The classes and the freedom of the major was appealing to me. The biochemistry curriculum sets you up for success,” he said.

Noah Schrayer presenting research
Noah Schrayer presenting research. Photo courtesy of Noah Schrayer.

Ultimately, the reason that originally held Schrayer back from pursuing a career in medicine became his source of motivation. “A lot of Appalachia is considered medically underserved and there’s a strong lack of physicians in Appalachia. Many of my loved ones in my region have experienced healthcare disparities. All of this is part of what inspired me to get into medicine,” he said.

Schrayer is determined to give back to his community in Bristol, Virginia. He hopes to identify an area with a shortage of primary care physicians and return to the region after he completes his service with the Navy. Schrayer hopes to join the Navy through the Health Professions Scholarship Program, which is designed to provide financial incentives for students to attend a school to be a physician, dentist, optometrist or clinical psychologist to ultimately receive an appointment as an officer. Schrayer’s application is still in process but he remains excited about this opportunity because of his familial connection to the Navy; his father served in the Navy for 7 years and his grandfather for 33.

Noah Schrayer's father in the Navy
Noah's father, Jim Schrayer, served in the Navy as a Aviation Electrician's Mate (AE). Photo courtesy of Noah Schrayer.

Schrayer credits his father and grandfather’s naval service to explain his deep-seated need to help others. His mother would also serve as an inspiration for him. Growing up, he remembers his mother telling him: you get what you give, so give love.

“To me, love isn’t always familial or intimate, it can mean just helping others and that’s how I’ve interpreted this motto and applied it in my daily life,” Schrayer said.

Written by Cameron Warren