Almost every day, Marissa Meyer, an 18-year-old senior at Agoura High School, heads out to the stable where her riding teacher rehabilitates abused horses. There she works with her 15-year-old gelding, Lucky. Helping to heal him after his difficult life at a dude ranch has been one of her passions for the last seven years and has also helped spur her interest in physical therapy and sports medicine in humans.
This fall, she’ll attend UCLA’s student nursing program with the hope of eventually becoming an orthopedic surgeon. “Instead of going straight to medical school, nursing will allow me to learn to build relationships with patients and interface with staff, which will help me become a better doctor,” she said.
Meyer has honed her leadership skills by serving on the board of Congregation Or Ami’s youth group, where she created a Passover-in-the-wilderness service, and also through the United States Youth Volleyball League, where she’s in charge of training 25 adult coaches.
Meanwhile, she’s maintained a 4.2 grade-point average despite a number of health issues, including surgery to remove an extra electrical passageway in her heart that had left her dizzy and weak for months several years ago. In 2011, Meyer cut a tendon in her right hand, rendering it useless for a time during her most difficult academic year. Undaunted, she took classroom notes with her left hand and even took the SAT with her hand in a splint. An emergency appendectomy last summer didn’t prevent her from leaving for two East Coast camps — one a medical leadership program, another on sports medicine — five days later.
“I was in pain because it was hard to walk and stand,” Meyer said, “but nevertheless, it was a very rewarding experience.”
Her own medical issues have only solidified her desire to become a physician. “It’s amazing how the body isn’t just stagnant but constantly changing and healing itself,” she said.