Dr. Laura Rosenberger is introduced by Kirk Shisler, vice president of advancement, prior to her Suter Science Seminar. Rosenberger, a 2003 alumnus, shared case studies from her residency at University of Virginia. She is now a surgical breast oncology fellow at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. (Photos by Andrew Strack)

Suter Science Seminar audience learns from case studies with surgeon and EMU alumnus

Only someone with a great passion for surgery could say that gallstones “can be very pretty.” Laura Rosenberger ’03 has that passion.

Rosenberger, now a surgical breast oncology fellow at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, returned to Eastern Mennonite University on Feb. 5 to give a Suter Science Seminar lecture about her medical career. She covered gallbladders, goiters, gunshots, gastroschisis and more as she shared cases with students, faculty, staff and community members.

“I think the greatest thing about medicine is you get to meet people where they are, sometimes when they’re really scared,” Rosenberger said.

Using a Powerpoint presentation filled with photos that were sometimes not for the squeamish, Rosenberger walked through some of the interesting cases spanning the spectrum of her residency at the University of Virginia Medical Center. That included her eventual specialty of breast cancer. One in every eight women will get breast cancer during their lifetime, she said, which makes the specialty especially impactful.

As images of enlarged thyroids, trauma wounds, gallstones, parastomal hernias and more flashed by on the screen, Rosenberger narrated each case with detail and precision.

“In medicine, you learn an entire new language, which takes many years,” she said.

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Approximately 25 students in the audience identified themselves as having interest in a medical career. Rosenberger urged them to continue their studies; the profession is deeply satisfying, she said.

Earlier, as Rosenberger began the lecture in Suter’s Room 106 auditorium, she recalled being in that same space a decade and a half earlier as a biology student. That included classes in physiology and anatomy with EMU professor Roman Miller that “kick-started” her interest in surgery.

“It feels very funny to be on the other side of the podium,” Rosenberger said. “It feels like not that many years ago I sat in this lecture hall. I feel blessed to be standing here.”

Miller and Kirk Shisler, vice president for advancement, welcomed Rosenberger back to EMU at the start of the seminar. Shisler noted that the pole vault records Rosenberger set as a celebrated student-athlete still stood. Rosenberger was inducted into EMU’s Athletics Hall of Honor in 2013.

“From the moment she set foot on EMU’s campus in 1999, Dr. Laura Rosenberger has been soaring to great heights, both literally and figuratively,” Shisler said. He also congratulated her on the recent successful completion in Dallas, Texas, of her surgical boards and welcomed her parents in the audience, James L. Rosenberger ’68, EMU’s Alumnus of the Year in 2015, and Gloria Horst ’70 Rosenberger.

Rosenberger said she will know soon where she will be headed after her one-year fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering is complete. She plans practice at an academic facility.

It has taken a long time to reach that goal, but Rosenberger encouraged the students in the audience who were planning on medical careers to stick with it.

“It’s a long road to a medical career—12 years of post-college education for me,” Rosenberger said. “But it’s worth the time. It’s a fantastic path.”