One of the first Lindenwood graduates to become a physician, Patricia A. Penkoske, M.D. (’69), was presented with the University’s 2012 Alumni Merit Award at graduate Commencement ceremonies in May.
“At the end of high school my father suggested I go to Lindenwood, live at home and give college a try,” Penkoske said. “As a day student, I earned a B.A. in biology and chemistry in 1969. I credit my Lindenwood professors for providing the mentoring I needed to gain the self confidence that stood me well in medical school and in my career as a cardiac surgeon.”
Penkoske says that Lindenwood was a place where academic success was emphasized and valued. She has especially fond memories of two professors, Harry Hendren in art history and Dr. John Bornman in chemistry. Both of them took a special interest in her education and convinced her that with hard work she could accomplish great things. Dr. Bornman attended her medical school graduation. She says that “the combination of a solid liberal arts program and professors who served as mentors made my Lindenwood educational experience special.
“In the summer of my sophomore year, Dr. Tessie Welch, a faculty member in Lindenwood’s chemistry department, helped me get a job in her husband’s research lab at Washington University,” Penkoske said. “I continued in that assignment with Dr. Michael Welch throughout my undergraduate years.”
She credits her apprenticeship for exposing her to the medical profession because she worked with medical students and residents and was permitted to go on rounds and attend lectures. It was this experience that made her determined to become a physician.
After graduation from Lindenwood, she attended Washington University’s School of Medicine, graduating in 1974.
“I was competing with students from some of the most prestigious schools in the country but I always felt comfortable with my undergraduate academic preparation,” she said.
As a medical student she was one of 10 in her class named to Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society, which recognizes a physician’s dedication to the profession and art of healing.
Penkoske went on to a distinguished career as a pediatric cardio-thoracic surgeon, completing her internship and residency at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. She has practiced locally and in Boston and Canada. A member of numerous professional societies, she has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles and also holds a patent.
The mother of three daughters, Penkoske is currently an intensive care physician for Midwest Acute Care; she also works at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Peters, Mo.
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