Sarah O’Dell, MA in English

Career Path: MD/PhD student at the University of California, Irvine

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved science and stories. My completion of a BS in Biology and an MA in English at APU was the natural product of this inclination, as is my desire to become a physician.”

What was your favorite aspect of the MA in English program?

I really appreciated the diversity of course offerings and the inherent flexibility of the program, which allowed me to simultaneously tailor the degree to my interests and engage topics completely new to me. I loved that the structure of the program supported my interdisciplinary interests! APU’s unique focus on the intersection of theology and literature is a clear strength of the program. The incredible mentorship I received as an undergraduate continued throughout my MA, and greatly enriched my two years of graduate study.

How did your work and research with faculty impact your time as a graduate student?

My enrollment in the MA in English program was largely due to the encouragement of Emily Griesinger, PhD, who first introduced me to the field of the medical humanities and the possibility of exploring concepts related to narrative medicine. Not only did she advise my thesis work on narrative and Alzheimer’s Disease, but assisting her in the design of several medical humanities courses also taught me a great deal about pedagogy and course development. I cannot fully express my gratitude for her ongoing partnership in exploring the intersections between medicine, story, personhood, faith, and service.

I am also deeply grateful for the mentorship of Diana Glyer, PhD, whose work and profound expertise in the field of Inklings studies has inspired my own ongoing research on physician and Inkling Robert E. Havard. The tremendous example of these two women scholars has been crucial to both my personal and intellectual development.

What career goals are you pursuing?

I am currently a student at the University of California, Irvine, where I am working towards earning both an MD and a PhD in a fully funded dual-degree program. It is my hope to eventually serve as a university professor with faculty appointments in both a school of medicine and a humanities department. On the clinical side of things, my fascination with the intricacies of the human mind and brain have fueled an interest in practicing neurology. For updates on my current research projects, please visit my website at

Note: This information is current for the 2023-24 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.

Full Menu