Conversations with Renaissance Students
Isaac Holeman CAS '08
health care advocate
From his seat in the audience at the Western Regional International Health Conference last year, Isaac Holeman held up his hand and asked a question: "What role do you see students playing in health care reform?"
The next thing he knew, he was playing a very big role in the Archimedes Movement, a health care reform initiative started by former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, M.D. Isaac started attending the group's meetings, formed the first college chapter the movement at Lewis & Clark, and now leads the movement's "Young and Healthy" interest group. "I'm deeply convinced that universal access is the only economically viable model for health care," says Isaac. "Other systems promote inefficiency because they don't acknowledge the full moral and economic value of each person."
Isaac is pursuing a major in biochemistry and molecular biology and a minor in political economy at Lewis & Clark. The two disciplines together, he believes, are helping him build a solid foundation for graduate studies leading toward a future in public health. "I see a huge need for change, and change requires leaders who can organize and provide vision for grassroots movements," says Isaac. "It's a great societal need, and it's one that I believe I may be able to fill."
Last summer, Isaac was one of a handful of first-year students selected for the competitive Rogers Science Research Program, in which he worked under biology department chair Deborah Lycan. Although he continues to be involved in molecular research with Lycan, which gives him a platform in science from which to speak, Isaac is driven by a desire to cure the ailing health care system. "I'd like to get the kinds of medicines and health care that are already mainstream in America to sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and all the places that don't have access to them now," he says. "That kind of change is governed by political and economic structures, and will require political and economic solutions."
Isaac works hard, but he also makes time to sing with the College's popular a capella group, Momo and the Coop. "That's just so much fun," he says. "Another school might have put up barriers to how much I could do: you can't be a political economy minor if you're going to major in biochemistry; you can't be in a singing group if you want to spend a lot of time in a research lab; you can't be deeply connected to health care activism if you want to get good grades. But here at Lewis & Clark, I find a wonderful level of support for my diverse interests. I'm allowed to wear this hat of 'student,' and to be interested in anything and everything."
Back to Summer 2007 Chronicle