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Nicholas Butowski, MD '95

I am a neuro-oncologist at the University of California, San Francisco responsible for research and patient care as it pertains to people with cancer of the brain and spine. My decision to major in Religious Studies is among the shrewdest decisions of my life and has paid dividends both professionally and personally. The knowledge base provided by my major led to a tenacity of purpose in my endeavor to improve the lives of my patients beyond that provided by medical treatments alone. Rather, it was through my study of belief and cultural systems as they relate to humanity, and to that beyond, which taught me that it is through being astute to my patients’ beliefs and hopes that I most help them get out of bed every day.

Moreover, as I look back on what I have learned over the years, it was my major that provided the comfort that happiness lay not in obedience to ritual but in the slow, clumsy, and perhaps error-strewn working out of a path. Lastly, my major was FUN. My peers in medicine are near constantly reminding me that I am lucky that I majored in something “enjoyable.” After all, it is fun to know how to think, how to learn, the history thereof, and the tools and language necessary to connect with patients and people alike. What else is there in life?