Friday Features: Former ENC Student-Athlete, Maleesa Santos, Closes in on Her Goal of Earning a Medical Degree

Friday Features: Former ENC Student-Athlete, Maleesa Santos, Closes in on Her Goal of Earning a Medical Degree

- Courtesy of the Eastern Nazarene Magazine -

Alumna and former Eastern Nazarene College women's soccer student-athlete Maleesa Santos '15 is closing in on her childhood goal of becoming a doctor. The Colonie, New York native is currently in her fourth year at the University of Massachusetts Medical School studying to enter the emergency medical field.

"Growing up my family and friends always called me Dr. Maleesa. I have wanted to be a doctor since I can remember. I alwasy enjoyed caring for people," recalled Santos. She continued, "my interest in medicine was solidified during my high school anatomy class when I realized how much I enjoyed learning about anatomy and physiology. From there, I started shadowing different doctors and even spent a few college spring breaks shadowing in operating rooms back home in Albany. I was hoooked."

A three-time Academic All-Conference honoree, Santos appeared in 70 career matches for the Lions and scored eight goals while adding 10 assists. She played a vital role in ENC's defensive efforts and helped lead the team to four-straight Commonwealthy Coast Conference playoff berths and back-to-back trips to the ECAC New England Regional Tournament.

"Playing soccer helped shape my ability to work as part of a team. In soccer, a team works best when everyone is working together. The mantra 'no I in team' always rings true. The same goes on a medical team, everyone's job is as important as the next person's when it comes to patient care," stated Santos. "This is true especially in the emergency room. Everyone from the secretary, pateint care tech, nurse, doctor, and everyone in between, has to be working together to give the best patient care."

"Like in soccer, everyone caring for a patient is working toward a common goal."

At ENC, Santos majored in biology with a minor in mathematics. "A lot of my upper level science classes helped prepare me for medical school, especially my anatomy class with Sherrie (Hall) Burt. It grew my knowledge base so I wasn't completely lost going into medical school."

"Those of us going into emergency medicine had the opportunity to work at a field hospital in the DCU Center in Worcester, which was an overflow unit for COVID-19 patients. We were in charge of monitoring the vitals of patients, assisting with admitting, and were part of their daily care while there.

Santos admitted that during the pandemic, work life in the emergency department was different. Patients were not only coming in sicker but also communicating with them from behind masks proved challenging.

Still Santos carries her ENC experience with her even now. "One of the biggest ways ENC made an impact on me was showing me how an education can be personal and intentional. Every student was treated like an individual, not just another student in class."

"For instance, my linear algebra class had just four students in it, so we really got to know one another and that is something I carry forward."

"I looked for a medical school that had a similar feel to that math class of four pupils, where everyone helped one another along and got to know each other as people. It's those kinds of places - small, communal, tight-knit - that I will continue to look to work in as I progress in my career."

The NECC began competition in the 2008-09 academic year and current member institutions compete across 16 sports. The NECC membership focuses on providing athletic competition among institutions that share similar academic aspirations and are committed to the importance of the total educational experience for students engaged in sport. Bay Path University, Becker College, Eastern Nazarene College, Elms College, Lesley University, Mitchell College and New England College are the conference’s current members. For more information, please visit