‘This little shining light’
Even when she was a little girl, Katy Gallon knew she wanted to be a doctor.
Playing under her parents’ dresser, Gallon would simulate an operating room using a toy set from Doc McStuffins, the character from the popular Disney Junior television show. Gallon would even “scrub in” to procedures and use latex gloves while playing with the toys.
“I was playing with toy sets with doctors before I could talk, honestly,” she said.
Gallon is not yet a doctor — she is a sophomore at Eagle Point High School. But she is more determined than ever to join the medical field one day, and others hope she will.
That’s why a Nobel Prize-winning doctor signed a letter nominating her to be an Oregon delegate to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, which will be held virtually, on March 26 and 27.
The program is for those students who want to become physicians or go into medical research. During the two-day Congress, Future Medical Leaders will invite Nobel Prize and Medal of Science winners to speak to Gallon and other delegates about leading medical research; hear from top college deans about what to expect in medical school; and even a chance to hear from fellow teen medical science prodigies.
Learning from medical leaders
What Gallon is most excited about is the opportunity to watch a surgery live. She hopes the real-time opportunity provides her something most YouTube videos cannot.
“I definitely think it will, because usually when I watch those procedures, it’s completely muted,” Gallon said. “I am curious about how they talk to each other in the medical room and the conversations that go on during a procedure.”
In a news release announcing Gallon as a delegate, Future Medical Leaders said the U.S. needs more doctors “who are even better prepared for a future that is changing exponentially.”
The organization believes Gallon can fit that mold.
“Focused, bright and determined students like Katy Gallon are our future and she deserves all the mentoring and guidance we can give her,” the release from Future Medical Leaders stated.
Gallon’s medical interests include emergency room surgery and general surgery.
“That’s why I’m looking at both of them — I like fast-paced adrenaline rushes (and) I feel like I would be able to find a leadership role in emergency room medicine,” she said. “With general surgery, you get more experiences with different kinds of surgery.”
Gallon said she is not sure why she is interested in surgery, but nevertheless, “I’m drawn to it.”
She also just wants to help people.
“When I help people, I have a good feeling,” Gallon said. “Whenever I get a good feeling, I just see that as the way of God putting me on the path I’m supposed to be on. Helping people, through medicine, has always seemed like that for me.”
Jennifer Shields, Gallon’s fifth-grade teacher at Table Rock Elementary School, is not surprised her former student was tapped for such a prestigious program.
“She mentioned to me, way back then, that her dream for her future career would be in the medical field,” Shields wrote in an email.
That passion showed during one particular lesson at Table Rock, Gallon recalled.
Her teacher asked the class a question — “What’s a tendon?” — but Gallon’s peers did not answer.
“The class just seemed to be a zombie,” Gallon said.
So she raised her hand and the course suddenly took a different direction.
“I already knew what a tendon was and I got up and talked about tendons for 35 minutes,” Gallon said. “Afterwards (Shields) asked me, ‘How do you know all of this?’ I said, ‘I want to be a doctor. I research this for fun.’”
As a student at Table Rock, Gallon pursued extracurricular activities, such as the leadership team. That’s how she created a video of all of the fifth-graders singing a song to be shown at an assembly for families.
Shields recalled that Gallon won a “Senior of the Year” award for her “academic success, leadership role, and for standing out as a positive example for her peers.”
Gallon was also selected to lead her class in standing for the National Anthem at graduation. At the ceremony, she gave a keynote address.
“She is a bright, creative student who creates an inclusive environment for everyone. I am honored to have been her fifth grade teacher,” Shields wrote in an email. “I knew then she would work hard and stay focused on achieving her dream of working in the medical industry.”
When Gallon graduated from elementary school and went on to White Mountain Middle School, one of her instructors there, Kim Jarvis, knew the young girl was someone special.
“She was just going to be one of those students that not only is super smart and super bright, but … this little shining light,” Jarvis said. “She has so much maturity for her age. As a sixth-grader, she would act more mature than a lot of our eighth-graders. Adults are amazed by her (because) she is so poised.”
Gallon showed maturity not only as a person, but in her academic and extracurricular pursuits.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s sports or math — whatever she is doing, it is above and beyond,” Jarvis said. “That’s just who she is.”
At White Mountain, Gallon was in Jarvis’ “Advancement Via Individual Determination” (AVID) courses. Jarvis described these courses not as Honors, but for “middle of the road” students.
“She was in one of our first years — we’d only had it for a couple of years, so we were pretty much taking any kid that wanted to be in it,” Jarvis said. “To give them that extra boost and raise them up to their full potential … to get all students prepared for college and career-readiness in a global society.”
Gallon took an AVID class and “ran with it,” as Jarvis described it.
“Everything that we did, she took it to the next level, and I really felt like the AVID class that I had with her, those kids around her really got a boost,” Jarvis said. “She made those students exceptional.”
Even though she is no longer a student at White Mountain, Gallon was back in Jarvis’ classroom on Friday talking to students about how to apply for scholarships.
Meanwhile, as a student in high school, she maintains a 4.0 GPA, participates in athletics — including coaching — and volunteers in her White City community.
“I do so much stuff. High school is so much more busy than anything I’ve ever experienced,” Gallon said. “I’m just enjoying taking it all in at once.”
Free time — volleyball
In an interview, Jarvis applauded Gallon for her abilities on the volleyball court, describing her as a “team player,” always encouraging members no matter what the situation is.
“Just even going over and high-fiving her teammate and going back to her position,” Jarvis said. “She’s the one that is always there supporting the people around her.”
Gallon, who is set to attend a match this weekend in Vancouver, Washington, talked about the importance of volleyball in her life.
“After tryouts, the director told me that they hand-picked me for the team I’m on because of my leadership skills,” Gallon said. “That’s really what I love about volleyball — I get to incorporate my leadership onto the court and I don’t feel like I’m being bossy. I feel like we’re just a team. It’s made me fall in love with volleyball over and over again.”
Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.