Audrey and Madeline Wethington, bound by sisterhood, have shared a trajectory that extends beyond familial ties. From the exhilarating moments on the ice during the Frozen Four semifinals to the meticulous observations of squirrels' foraging behavior in the animal behavior lab, their journey is marked by shared experiences.
Madeline, the elder of the two, graduated with a major in cellular and organismal physiology in spring 2023 and is pursuing a master’s in biological sciences in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Audrey just graduated with a major in biology this fall and will follow in Madeline’s footsteps by starting the same master’s program next semester.
As student-athletes on the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team, they exemplify the art of time management – juggling studies and hockey with finesse. On the road, they were not only scoring goals but also acing tests in hotel rooms with proctors. Madeline even made time to study for the MCAT the morning of the Frozen Four semifinals. “Our priority is to be students. We’re here to get a degree first and foremost, and secondarily to play hockey,” said Madeline.
For them, it comes down to good time management, making good decisions, determining their priorities, and being proactive. “We do have a social life, but we set boundaries. We also have constant communication with our professors which helps keep expectations reasonable,” said Audrey.
The sisters find solace in each other's company and have shared some of the same classes, study sessions, research lab, and professors. Oftentimes when one sister needs a little extra help, the other one is there to give advice or help work through a problem. One of their favorite labs they took together was Animal Behavior where they observed squirrels and counted the nuts they were foraging from different locations. “I initially thought this lab wouldn’t apply to my areas of interest, but I had so many takeaways from the class – fun facts to share with others, broadening my skills, and understanding how these concepts could be applied broadly,” said Madeline.
Research has been a meaningful part of their CBS experience. They both delved into the world of research at the Visible Heart Laboratories, led by Dr. Paul Iaizzo, and gained invaluable insights about organ dynamics. Madeline had also previously been involved in research on SARS-CoV-2 and HIV with Dr. Kathleen Boris-Lawrie. “Research allows you to develop skills like teamwork and collaboration. It has been valuable to apply what I am learning in textbooks to physically do research and discover new things,” said Audrey.
Beyond the books and hockey, the sisters dedicate their time to making a difference. Audrey and Madeline volunteer at the M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital every week, finding inspiration and purpose in helping children facing health challenges. Additionally, they have taken on leadership roles on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Madeline uses her position as president to advocate for fellow student-athletes to administrators, while Audrey is the director of community engagement. Madeline also represents Minnesota at the Big Ten Conference, meeting with fellow SAAC leaders each semester in Chicago.
As they skate toward their dreams of medical school, their paths are diverging and converging like players on a rink. Audrey, inspired by her volunteer work, has a desire to pursue a career in healthcare. Madeline is fascinated by the intricate interconnections of the human body and would love to provide essential medical treatments and services to those in need. They are both excited about the prospect of using their skills for the greater good and being lifelong learners as medicine is always evolving and advancing. – Christine Hazuka