Published: May 24, 2019

SOMERS – Julia Alberth’s life may not have started in Wisconsin, however, she’ll be more than happy if it continues here.

Alberth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in May as the Chancellor’s Award recipient emblematic of the university’s top graduate. Her next stop will be UW-Madison where she has been accepted to a dual M.D./M.P.H. (master’s in public health) degree program in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. Not only has she been accepted, her tuition will be completely covered for her post-undergraduate studies.


Alberth’s family moved to Wisconsin when she was in elementary school. She graduated from Westosha High School in Salem where she found her love for science. “In my junior year I realized I liked my anatomy class, and that got me thinking that pursuing medicine might be a good fit,” she said.

UW-Parkside was another good fit because Alberth wanted to stay somewhere closer to home. “When I met with the advisors, and especially Dr. Bryan Lewis, I felt like it was going to be a great place for me,” she said. “They made me feel very welcome.” Alberth describes UW-Parkside as “close knit,” and said she had the opportunity to meet professors and friends on a more personal level.

Alberth is the first in her family to graduate from a college or university. During her morning and afternoon Chancellor’s Award addresses to approximately 500 fellow graduates, Alberth praised her now-alma mater for being the most diverse campus in the UW System. “Fifty years ago, my grandparents came from Mexico to give their family a better life,” she said. “Through them and my grandparents, I’m able to realize my dream of becoming a doctor.”

Alberth was accepted to four medical school programs (UW-Madison, Indiana University, Michigan State University, and the Medical College of Wisconsin), a rare feat to be sure.

“What I really like about UW-Madison is that they have a statewide rotation program,” she said. “It will be a chance for me to see the entire state.” Alberth hopes to do residencies or fellowships at either UW-Madison or Froedtert. “I would love to stay here forever,” she said.

Her favorite specialty is gastroenterology, but she wants to stay open to any other fields that she might find interesting. “I would love to be a practicing gastroenterologist,” she said, “but I also will be getting my master’s in public health degree. I want to do research with that to look at underserved populations and trying find out how to reduce some of the inequalities in health access that are in Wisconsin.”

Alberth was selected for the highly competitive RUSCH program (Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health) at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. As a RUSCH participant, Alberth spent eight weeks in the summer of 2017 as a research assistant to Dr. Sumona Saha for a project related to MyChart usage in managing inflammatory bowel disease. She has also been engaged in Students Modeling a Research Topic Team (SMART) while she was enrolled in high school.

Dr. Christopher Noto and Dr. Robert Barber from the UW-Parkside Biological Sciences Department nominated Alberth for an Outstanding Graduate award. As a student, Alberth quickly distinguished herself among her peers and earned the respect and admiration of faculty, staff, and her fellow students. She exceled in both the classroom and the laboratory and was a consistent fixture on the Dean’s and Provost’s lists.

Her commitment to community is equally impressive. Alberth’s volunteer work focuses on public health and humanitarian issues. She volunteered at Women and Children’s Horizons in Racine, and was a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

In closing each of her commencement addresses, Alberth noted that UW-Parkside boasts one of the top student-voter turnouts in the UW System. “We are the change the world needs right now,” Alberth said. “We will restore the environment, fight injustice … and prevent disease. Education is power.”

Julia Alberth will be using her power right here in Wisconsin.

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