Outstanding Grad: Parker Lewis

Parker Lewis treating patients in Zambia
Parker Lewis treating patient in Zambia in 2017.

When Parker Lewis first came to Colorado State University, he says his interests “were all over the map,” including conservation biology, journalism, environmental health – and stand-up comedy.

The youngest of three siblings from Larkspur, Colorado, had some success at open mic nights, even at the Comedy Works in Denver. But when he realized that comedians don’t make a lot of money – they tend to be angry and competitive, too – he decided to spend more time on his biomedical studies.

“Math and organic chemistry were required for my major, but really difficult, so I knew I had to get the grades up,” he says, and gave up his comedy career. “When I got to work in the physiology lab and the microbiology lab and do hands-on science, I knew what I wanted to do.”

What he wants to do after graduation from the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science is earn a degree in osteopathic medicine at Rocky Vista University in Parker, Colorado, then specialize in emergency medicine or public health service, perhaps internationally. He got a taste of his future career over the summer with an Education Abroad experience as a medical volunteer in Zambia.

“I found my direction,” he says. “It was good hands-on medical work, but seeing how much people need services and the worrisome state of the health care system, especially in sub-Saharan Africa – that’s something I’d like to work on.”

Inspired by professors

Lewis says he was particularly inspired by Dr. C.W. Miller, a professor who he described as “enthusiastic and optimistic, and made me interested in learning.” Miller, who taught Lewis in cardiopulmonary physiology, returns the compliment.

“Parker is unbelievably courteous and professional, caring, smart and organized,” says Miller, who is retiring at the end of the semester. “He’s both a great technician and a great humanitarian, and will do whatever it takes to get other people what they need. He’ll be a great doctor.”

That will take a while, what with medical school and residency – “I won’t be getting a paycheck until I’m 26,” Lewis points out – but he still has this advice for future Rams:

“Take the time to explore your options early on. Take intro classes in different subjects. If it doesn’t seem like a fit, you don’t want to force it. You’ll know when you find it.”