Laurie Draughon M'85: An Unusual Path Fosters Gratitude
When Dartmouth Medical School opened its doors to Laurie Draughon in 1981, women were in the minority—and a single mom enrolling as an MD student was unheard of.
"Dartmouth Medical School was willing to take me as a single parent with two kids. They trusted I would do okay in school and I did. I am forever indebted," she says.
Times have changed, but Laurie's gratitude remains. She recently made plans in her will for a gift to scholarships at her alma mater, now the Geisel School of Medicine. (Contact Patricia C. Butterfield at (603) 653-0755 or Patricia.C.Butterfield@hitchcock.org to learn how you can make a difference in the lives of medical students.)
The self-described California girl always wanted to be a physician, but her father wouldn't pay for college or medical school. Laurie married young, started a family and pursued a nursing degree. After divorcing when the kids were 10 and 7, she thought, "Why not go to medical school now? I can do it!" Dartmouth Medical School was her first choice.
"It's hard to explain, but I just knew, even before I interviewed, Dartmouth was what I wanted," she says.
While other schools expressed concern about whether Laurie could be a good mother and a good doctor, at Dartmouth she found advocates. Dr. George Margolis, a pathology professor and minority student advisor at the time, fought for her admission. Dr. Stanford Roman, deputy dean of the school, helped Laurie find housing in nearby Lyme Center, New Hampshire. She studied in the early mornings and in the late afternoons, when her kids were in after-school activities.
"It was tough at times," she admits, "but you do it."
Laurie returned to California for her residency in internal medicine. Today, she is a hospitalist at John Muir Medical Center in the San Francisco Bay Area, maintains a small house-call practice, dotes on her two grandchildren, travels, swims regularly and hikes with her two dogs. She's an active Geisel School alumna, serving as class secretary and giving generously to the school's annual fund.
"I always thought Dartmouth was one of the most progressive medical schools at the time, and it still is," she says. "I want to help others pursue their dreams. And I hope to increase my bequest as I am able."