Chloé Smallwood is certain that her next step is medical school. What wasn’t so certain was what path she’d take to get there.
Smallwood’s college decision would be easier than choosing her major. With UToledo’s proximity to her hometown, Perrysburg, campus felt like a natural and familiar extension of her home. The University’s medical education and partnership with The University of Toledo Medical Center was a bonus.
“I felt a lot safer here,” Smallwood said.
She began her UToledo journey as a student in the Exploratory Studies program through University College. Smallwood knew that she wanted to go to medical school and into a medical field but was unsure of the best major that fit her academic interests and future.
The Exploratory Studies program allows students to explore different majors that fit their career goals, while working toward program-specific admissions requirements and completing required core courses.
Musically minded in high school, Smallwood lost interest in the arts during her junior and senior year at Perrysburg High School. She found a new interest in science courses, doing well in biology and studying anatomy outside of school.
“I loved how the body worked,” Smallwood said. “My dad is a doctor and my mom is a nurse, so I was always surrounded by medical people.”
Smallwood declared her major at the end of her first year, transitioning to a public health major with a pre-med concentration in the College of Health and Human Services. Her introduction to public health course solidified that decision. From day one of the course, she was interested in how public health made an impact in the medical field and how she could personally add to that impact.
Smallwood credits Jennifer Gray-Catera, academic advisor for University College, for guiding her toward a major she would not have considered on her own. Although Smallwood knew that she wanted a path that would lead to medical school, majoring in biology or chemistry didn’t spark an initial interest.
“At first, I was conflicted,” Smallwood said. “I was like ‘If I want to be a doctor, why don’t I know what I want to major in?’
“To me, it was a long process. I felt a bit lost, but Ms. Gray-Catera really put me on the right path.”
Gray-Catera mentored Smallwood through her transition from new Rocket to declaring her major, both as a course instructor and academic advisor.
“She has a bubbly personality and a thirst for knowledge,” Gray-Catera said. “She exudes leadership qualities and has the capacity to impact whomever she meets in a positive way.”
Outside of classes Smallwood is a resident assistant in Ottawa House East and West, helps with fundraising for the men’s rugby team and serves as a peer mentor for other exploratory students. She provides support for fellow students as they discover their perfect path.
“I wanted to provide that support for a student who was in my shoes because I can understand the whole process of knowing what you want to do but not knowing where to start from,” Smallwood said. “Everyone needs a little guidance and I don’t mind sharing my experiences if I know that I’m helping someone find their passion.”
After she graduates in spring 2023, Smallwood said she looks foward to becoming a doctor, just like her father. She hopes to continue her time as a Rocket in UToledo’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences, studying to become an OB/GYN.